To the Editor:
Teresa Mottet’s September letter on transgenderism referred to an article that called transgenderism biological. That is an oversimplification that feeds into a notion that effective pastoral care lies outside the church’s doctrines (which might object to a person changing their given gender and certainly would to acting out the change in a homoerotic relationship). To this I offer comments I posted to the website Sexual Authenticity, moderated by Catholic convert, columnist and former active lesbian Melinda Selmys.
The name given to a person having physical organs of both genders was hermaphrodite, which now is, maybe misleadingly, called intersex. Actual gender can be found probably with a simple skin scrape showing the DNA as female or male. Several sources say most hermaphrodites turn out to have DNA identifying them as male. In chimerism, another variation of sexual development, two distinct sets of DNA are said to be present. Guided by the more pronounced physical characteristics and DNA tests, a decision is made as to the actual gender.
WebMD reports Israeli studies show female brains are indeed different from male brains. In females there is a connection between the two sides of the brain not present in the male brain. Sometimes psychological as well as physical components are at play in solving this dilemma of sexual identity. The late Dr. Conrad Baars (a psychiatrist, whose daughter Suzanne maintains his work) and philosophers Robert and Mary Joyce made great strides in relating the ramifications of this in wholesome identity and relationships.
Pastorally, confused sexual identity is the cross to be dealt with. Many people struggling with their sexual identity might have the spiritual charism of celibacy, settling several issues if the culture, again, would give such a lifestyle credibility.