Religious leader says 'gender reassignment' surgery expresses 'false compassion'

by Gregory Tomlin, |
Lulu, a transgender girl, reads a book in her room at her home in Buenos Aires July 25, 2013. Lulu, a six-year-old Argentine child who was listed as a boy at birth, has been granted new identification papers by the Buenos Aires provincial government listing her as a girl. According to her mother Gabriela, Lulu chose the gender as soon as she first learned to speak. Gabriela said her child, named Manuel at birth, insisted on being called Lulu since she was just four years old, local media reported. Argentina in 2012 put in place liberal rules on changing gender, allowing people to alter their gender on official documents without first having to receive a psychiatric diagnosis or surgery. | REUTERS/Stringe

WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – Pushing people toward "gender reassignment" surgeries and therapies in the name of "compassion" isn't compassion at all, the bishop of the Catholic Church's Lincoln, Nebraska, diocese said during the Catholic Medical Association's 85th annual conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this week.

Bishop James D. Conley told LifeSiteNews that encouraging those with gender confusion issues to seek physical or hormonal modification is "false compassion" because "it's not true."

Conley said his reasoning "comes back to anthropological, fundamental principle: What is the human person? What is male, what is female?"

We can't change that, no matter what we believe or will or desire. We have been given that ... if it's something that we find difficult to assimilate [to] psychologically, then we have to seek help for that.

"We have to have compassion on those who for whatever reason believe in their mind and heart that they [are] not what they were born to be, physically, biologically, but the other gender," he told LifeSiteNews.

But, Conley said, validating their feelings is not the way to express concern. Nor is denying the truth, he said. He added that "God intends us to be" male or female. The designation of biological sex is received at conception, he said.

"We can't change that, no matter what we believe or will or desire. We have been given that ... if it's something that we find difficult to assimilate [to] psychologically, then we have to seek help for that," Conley said.

Conley said he is not an uncaring person. He believes those who are confused about their gender – experiencing what is called "gender dysphoria" – should be treated with true compassion. That means loving them and responding to them in love.

Conley said some of those who feel they are actually in the wrong body may feel that way because they did not receive the love they needed as a child. He said every child needs to know they are loved and he encouraged parents and others to have patience with those who are gender dysphoric.

He wants to make certain, however, that people do not act hastily to make changes. They could come with tragic results, he said.

"One of the tragedies, especially with gender reassignment, is that you sterilize yourself then and [remove] the possibility of ever having children, both for the male and the female. That's pretty serious," Conley said.

"So, again, it comes back to a misunderstanding, a confusion about the human person and the gender that God gives us at birth and the embracing of that reality. ... We've kind of lost touch with realism ... and I think it's because we live in such a virtual society. We're kind of led to believe that we can be whatever we want to be or do whatever we want to do, because we don't have the real grounding in objective truth, the 'really real.' We've gotten so far away from it now."

Conley also said doctors shouldn't placate those who are contemplating gender reassignment. He said Catholic doctors are called "to witness to the truth about the sanctity and dignity of the human person."

"You are called to tell those who placate the deluded that God has created us male and female for good reason, for our happiness and flourishing. You are called to tell those who would destroy the unborn child in the womb that every single human life has the right to life. You are empowered by God's grace to call your profession to conversion and to offer them the mercy of God. This is what it means to fulfill our prophetic role in the world," Conley said.