The Church in Scotland has set out its position on gender identity issues, stressing ‘pastoral sensitivity’ while reaffirming that attempts to ‘redefine what it means to be male or female cannot be done without creating legal confusion, not least in implying there is nothing distinctive about womanhood or manhood’.
The Scottish Government is taking its Gender Reform Act through the Scottish Parliament, which would grant legal recognition for those who wish to change gender in three months, and open up that process to 16 and 17 year olds.
The document, called To Be Children of God; A Catholic Understanding of Gender Identity, will form the bulk of the Church submission to the consultation on the pro- posed Bill and provide guidance to schools and other institutions dealing with the issue.
It states ‘the Church is pastorally sensitive to the experience of those who, even at certain moments in life, desire to have a body and identity other than their biological gender and may begin to behave in ways culturally associated with this orientation. They are to be met with compassion and a particular care and support in the challenges and distress that come with gender dysphoria’.
However, it goes on to say: “It is not the role of the State or Democracy to redefine the scientifically accepted facts of sexual difference and gender.
“Democratic deliberations should not contra- dict the truth concerning the dignity of the human person. These are part of the natural law and reason which express and promote the inherent dignity of the human person in society”.
Attempts to refine our understanding of men and women could spawn ‘a plethora of unforeseen conundrums for society’, the document warns, ‘ultimately weakening the institution of marriage which has proved the surest foundation of family life and social stability’.
“States will be aware of the profound and ongoing costs of forsaking principles that guide nature and human relationships,” it says.
“The climate crisis is a perilous example of the excesses that damage human dignity and our world when we redefine nature, human nature and relationships by unlimited individualism and so called ‘free choice’ at the price of forsaking personal, community and societal responsibilities.”
The document also says that ‘the findings of contemporary research encourage us, in the considered care we give to individuals, not to undermine any support they may receive to acknowledge and accept their given sexual identity’.
“This approach receives further endorsement from the evidence that most young people do not persist in gender dysphoria beyond adolescence, after which they reconcile with their biological sex,” it states.
“Taking everything into consideration, then, the Church proposes a compassionate approach of accompaniment, discernment and integration as a model across the whole of society.”