It sounded like a declaration of war.  But the recent declaration by Pope Francis against the transgender demographic and its allies isn’t new.  Nor did the Pope truthfully depict the things he claimed.  It’s very sad that an institution that demands the world listen to it so carefully and attentively should so blatantly demonstrate exactly the opposite with respect to transpeople and those who advocate for them.  Pope Francis:  the Jesuit pope who said of homosexuals, “Who am I to judge?” judged.1

His remarks came on World Youth Day when he answered questions for other bishops and archbishops in Krakow, Poland on July 27, 2016 and was reported more broadly in the press the following month.  It came in connection to an answer on Europe’s pressing refugee issue to Bishop Krzysztof Zadarko, Auxilary of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg.  But he radically digressed to the issue of transgender people in the following way according to the English translation released from the Vatican:

“… We have countries that for years have done a good job of integrating migrants. They have integrated them well. In others, unfortunately, certain ghettos have formed. A whole reform has to take place, on a worldwide level, with regard to this commitment and acceptance. But that is something relative: what is absolute is a welcoming heart. That is absolute! With prayer and intercession, by doing what I can. What is relative is the way I am able to do it. Not everyone can do it the same way. The problem is worldwide! The exploitation of creation, and the exploitation of persons. We are experiencing a moment of the annihilation of man as the image of God.

“I would like to conclude with this aspect, since behind all this there are ideologies. In Europe, America, Latin America, Africa, and in some countries of Asia, there are genuine forms of ideological colonization taking place. And one of these – I will call it clearly by its name – is [the ideology of] “gender”. Today children – children! – are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex. Why are they teaching this? Because the books are provided by the persons and institutions that give you money. These forms of ideological colonization are also supported by influential countries. And this terrible!

“In a conversation with Pope Benedict, who is in good health and very perceptive, he said to me: “Holiness, this is the age of sin against God the Creator”. He is very perceptive. God created man and woman; God created the world in a certain way… and we are doing the exact opposite. God gave us things in a “raw” state, so that we could shape a culture; and then with this culture, we are shaping things that bring us back to the “raw” state! Pope Benedict’s observation should make us think. “This is the age of sin against God the Creator”. That will help us.

“But you will say to me: “What does this have to do with migrants?” It has to do with the overall situation, no?”2

There it is in its “raw state” and in full context.  A number of issues arise in a statement like this:


  1. Ideological colonization

While Pope Francis has attempted to present himself as a progressive pope, this phrase evokes the idea of colonization being evil, consistent with Progressives while in fact decrying that the traditions established by the Vatican should ever change outside what the Vatican determines.  Human understanding constantly evolves and the Vatican has opposed this evolution at every step, despite the Vatican being itself a part of that evolution.  Even when it comes to scholarship on the Bible, the Roman Catholic clergy has long reserved for its leaders the “magesterium” or “teaching authority” that’s generally accepted by its members as infallible.3 Through this it has controlled populations under threat of to unending torture at the hands of God by default, or at least a devil in some form of cahoots with God.  It’s a condition the Vatican has imposed upon the entire world, subverting cultures in centuries of the very ideological colonization Pope Francis now decries.  This state of affairs has long suppressed inquiry, molding social strata into a prevailing attitude that challenges the right of anyone without some special credential to critically examine anything.  At the same time the Vatican has attempted to present itself as backing scientific knowledge, and presents the Pontifical Academy of Sciences for this purpose.4 The problem with this mixed message is that no study or inquiry can happen without asking questions or proposing ideas that challenge the established order.  Pope Francis’ remarks. while couched in the language of the Progressive, actually takes the position of the Conservative.


  1. Ideology of Gender

Pope Francis attacks the possibly any more than 2 genders exist, what has often been called the “gender dichotomy” in which only male and female can possibly exist and never the 2 shall meet… except in bed… missionary position of course.  This follows what church leaders assert to be the divinely established order set forth in Genesis: “So God created man in His own image.  In the image of God created He him, male and female created He them.”5 This interpretation excludes the existence of intersex people apart from monsters.  But as many as an estimated 1 in 1500 births are known to be intersex or .15% of the population  according to the American Psychological Association.6  In a population of 7 billion people, that makes 105 million intersex people, all the result of natural birth.  The same verse in Genesis has a different interpretation held by Kabbalist rabbis for centuries that God initially created man as a hermaphroditic being before separating him into male and female, a view taught in the Zohar7 but condemned as heresy by many Christians who prefer centuries of erasure.

This interpretation also demands something else:  that gender and sex cannot be different.  Gender is an internal construct of maleness and femaleness which can be either male or female or some combination thereof. Sex is an external phenotype.  Both sex and gender appear to have genetic components which become augmented through epigenetics, socialization, and culture.  These in turn differ from issues like gender expression and sexual orientation, which like These ideas arise from observation by psychiatric professionals, sociologists, and medical professionals though their work with transsexuals, intersex people, and gender non-conforming people over many decades.  It’s a view based in clinical observation, not in dogma.


  1. Children taught at school that everyone can choose his or her sex

Again, Pope Francis couches this in the idea that sex and gender must be the same.  Recent stories broadcast as news, especially from editorialized stories from conservative broadcasters attempt to portray transgender children as those who want to be one sex and then another according to their convenience and perverse intentions.  Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee did this when he “joked” to condemn the use of facilities consistent with gender identity saying, “I’d like to shower with the girls today.”8 The reality is quite different.  Gender, is firmly set in the mind of the transsexual.  For these people the disparity has been shown to cause social and psychological harm and that this can be alleviated through a process of transition and follow-up care.  But not all can or should transition.  Transsexuals need to pass through psychological screening before embarking on such a radical course of treatment.  What the schools teach concerns how we should treat this small and vulnerable minority of students, to exercise compassion toward these students.  In this respect, Pope Francis is wrong and appears to rely on biased reporting in certain media sources.


  1. Taught because books are provided by donors

It’s difficult to really point to what Pope Francis is talking about.  Are there books in circulation like this?  There are, including Gender Outlaw by Kate Bonstein9 or Transgender Voices by Professor Lori Girschick.10  These books have been circulated at the college level and in fact some of these have been donated to college and university libraries.  But these aren’t books directed toward children.  The books attributed to Jazz Jennings, I Am Jazz11 and Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen12, clearly address kids and parents alike.  These books don’t tell children that anyone can choose his or her sex.  They tell kids that some people do transition so they can live relatively normal lives and that such should be treated with respect instead of hate.  This is a compassionate thing to teach and those who donate such books to libraries in fact do a service to all.

But do schools teach these things because teachers read a book and decide to teach it as if blindly pursuing something because it appears in print?  Of course not.  In fact some districts have forbidden their inclusion in libraries. What happens instead is that teachers have found these books to effectively communicate what they know need to be passed on in terms of how we treat one another.


  1. Supported by influential countries

While Pope Francis does not identify these “influential countries,” countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand do allow their circulation.  This is what freedom of the press does.  Of course the Vatican has never been a great proponent of freedom of the press… except its own.


  1. Terrible

If one were to take the words of Pope Francis at face value and without examination, anyone would conclude that he has painted a terrible picture.  But as we already can see, Pope Francis simply “stacked the cards.”  Card stacking is a form of propaganda by which one presents evidence to only one side to the exclusion of the other, or to make the other appear worse than they really are.13  But the reality behind what Pope Francis describes a drive toward compassion and inclusion.  That’s not really a terrible thing.


  1. Conversation with Pope Benedict

Pope Benedict XVI actually is at the core of Pope Francis’ remarks far more than the issue of transgender people.  It was Benedict who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger  led the watchdog entity The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith as Cardinal Prefect  beginning with his appointment by Pope John Paul II in 1981 and as Dean in 2002.14  Under his leadership in 2003 they directed the superiors of religious orders worldwide that transsexuals be barred as priests, nuns, friars, nuns, and brothers in religious orders or expelled if found afterwards to be transsexual.  A document reported by the liberal Catholic news agency Adista and confirmed by a Vatican official states in these directives:

“In the case that there is a serious and irreversible pathology of transsexuality, (the candidate) cannot be validly admitted into the institute or the society, while in cases of doubt, it is forbidden to allow admission since the candidate is missing a clear and full eligibility.”15

While one cannot tell from this directive how the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith arrived at their position, Christians including the Roman Catholic hierarchy have often approached issues of science and philosophy with dogma as a starting point.  In other words, a position is pre-concluded and evidence built to support that pre-conclusion instead of the correct approach to inquiry in which conclusions are drawn from as much evidence as can be found.  With such an approach, evidences supporting a particular dogma get accepted and evidences contrary get dismissed.

The evidences accepted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith evidently included the work of Paul McHugh, the doctor who gutted Harry Benjamin’s transition program at Johns Hopkins University and had been selected for a “Sexual Abuse Review Board” of Catholic laypeople the previous year.16  McHugh in a highly biased publication in, for example, stated:


“Reiner’s results, reported in the January 22, 2004, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, are worth recounting. He followed up sixteen genetic males with cloacal exstrophy [a congenital defect in which abdominal organs become exposed and genitalia split] seen at Hopkins, of whom fourteen underwent neonatal assignment to femaleness socially, legally, and surgically. The other two parents refused the advice of the pediatricians and raised their sons as boys. Eight of the fourteen subjects assigned to be females had since declared themselves to be male. Five were living as females, and one lived with unclear sexual identity. The two raised as males had remained male. All sixteen of these people had interests that were typical of males, such as hunting, ice hockey, karate, and bobsledding. Reiner concluded from this work that the sexual identity followed the genetic constitution. Male-type tendencies (vigorous play, sexual arousal by females, and physical aggressiveness) followed the testosterone-rich intrauterine fetal development of the people he studied, regardless of efforts to socialize them as females after birth. Having looked at the Reiner and Meyer studies, we in the Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Department eventually concluded that human sexual identity is mostly built into our constitution by the genes we inherit and the embryogenesis we undergo. Male hormones sexualize the brain and the mind. Sexual dysphoria—a sense of disquiet in one’s sexual role—naturally occurs amongst those rare males who are raised as females in an effort to correct an infantile genital structural problem. A seemingly similar disquiet can be socially induced in apparently constitutionally normal males, in association with (and presumably prompted by) serious behavioral aberrations, amongst which are conflicted homosexual orientations and the remarkable male deviation now called autogynephilia.”17


In this he cites either improper upbringing or social aberrations as the only real causes of transsexualism and cites stereotypically “male” interests found in both typical females and typical males as “evidence.” He dismisses all other proposed causes including genetic and environmental factors like pollutants upon fetal development.18 That dismissal, couched in stereotypes, reeks of having pre-concluded a position.


  1. The age of sin against God the Creator

Pope Benedict XVI’s anti-transgender rhetoric is well documented.  Time magazine reported in 2008:

“Without actually using the word, Benedict took a subtle swipe at those who might undergo sex-change operations or otherwise attempt to alter their God-given gender. Defend ‘the nature of man against its manipulation,’ Benedict told the priests, bishops and cardinals gathered Monday in the ornate Clementine hall. ‘The Church speaks of the human being as man and woman, and asks that this order is respected.’ The Pope again denounced the contemporary idea that gender is a malleable definition. That path, he said, leads to a ‘self-emancipation of man from creation and the Creator.’19

Of course, transsexuals accept that gender is unalterable, and accept that it’s easier to alter sex characteristics than to try to change gender.  But this idea ignores one other serious issue:  that God can possibly create a transgender person.  The position presumes that a transsexual becomes so as a result of improper upbringing or socialization issues only:  nurture, never nature.  It presumes that such is an act of rebellion against the natural laws established by God.  It presumes something else: that since the Pope regarded the current age as the “age of sin against God the Creator” and that the “rebellion” of transsexualism typifies it, then transsexualism must strictly be a modern phenomenon.  History teaches us that transsexuals did exist in antiquity, in those times referred to as “eunuchs” and this remains so in certain parts of the world.20

But transsexualism is, always has been, and always will be a small minority.  We’re no more a modern phenomenon than the Papacy.  The only thing different today has been attention given to transsexualism in the mass media since the 1950’s when a free press took new heights in the world.  This act of equating transsexualism with the “age of sin against God the Creator” implies something else:  that media attention should not be permitted, in effect warranting erasure of the history of an entire demographic through sloganism.


  1. God created the world in a certain way

I can think of no theistic creationist, transgender or otherwise, who would dispute this.  But the context of this statement, in which only a dichotomy of gender can exist and that transsexualism must only be a modern phenomenon suggests that because transsexuals exist the world has gone mad is “going to hell in a hand-basket.”  This incites anti-transgender bias.  The logical conclusion thereof is to end the existence of transgender people, effective in the public mind through psychiatric incarceration, “conversion therapy,” imprisonment, or murder.  Because the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith called transsexualism a “serious and irreversible pathology” in its aforementioned 2003 statement, one may easily expect that the intention is to establish a permanent end by any means possible.  Psychiatric incarceration also becomes punitive, not therapeutic.


  1. God gave things in a raw state so we could shape a culture

This part of Pope Francis’ remarks is particularly alarming.  Who are the “we” who should be shaping a culture?  Religion is not just a part of culture.  It’s the heart and soul of culture.  The Vatican, an entity that has always evangelized, only regards its own culture as divinely established and propagates it by any means possible.  This can only mean cultural hegemony by that agency of a singular universal culture, a policy that has already rendered many other cultures extinct and can only do the same in the future.  If we espouse such a cultural hegemony, we deserve the culture that has typified Europe in the dark ages complete with the agencies of enforcement Europe suffered under the Inquisition.


  1. Culture to be used to return to the raw state

That “raw state” need not be restricted to a culturally enforced gender dichotomy.  Culture should and often does foster a return to a childlike state of innocence in which one looks upon the universe and its Creator with awe.  But culture comes in many languages and traditions.  Many cultures of the world do this, some more effectively than the system of dogma typically offered in those Catholic churches who often fail to offer Catholicism’s more mystical and profound aspects to the common people.


  1. Having to do with the overall situation

Perhaps this is the most recondite part of Pope Francis’ remarks.  It’s difficult to see how this issue of gender relates to Europe’s overall situation respecting refugees.  Most refugees to the West have arrived from the Middle East, Africa, and the former USSR.  Does he speak about transsexuals seeking asylum from Arab governments?  Or could he actually be talking about the cultural hegemony Pope Francis offers while couching this in careful and Progressive terms?  It is true that some transgender people from these regions have sought the more tolerant climate of Europe and North America.  But Pope Francis treats this as part of a larger picture.

Part of a larger picture, when taken as part of cultural hegemony must foster control of transsexualism on multiple levels by religious authority, namely that of Catholicism:  through psychological, medical, legal, political, and religious agencies.  These agencies also address the needs of refugees, many of whom had suffered trauma in their homelands.  In this context the Vatican intends outreach to migrants while persecuting and oppressing transsexuals, holding the latter as public examples of what the Vatican regards as incorrigible reprobates from whom the migrants must be protected.


One may ask why the Vatican has so vehemently opposed transsexuals, as if effectively attributing to them the unpardonable sin due to the ”irreversible pathology” cited by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith?  The unpardonable sin was about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, not transsexualism.21  How can surgery to alter sex characteristics to align with what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith admitted must be “irreversible” gender identity be any worse than repairing a cleft palate or breast enhancement, both accepted in the Catholic communion?  This makes no sense. Could there be a deeper jealousy involved?

We can only speculate because so much secrecy abounds in the Vatican.  The Vatican was at one time a Pagan temple dedicated to Cybele and this is acknowledged by the Vatican Museum with an altar found about the location of the present day Saint Peter’s Square dated to 374 CE.22  Cybele’s priests were feminized eunuchs called, “Gallī”, 23 easily what we would today refer to as transsexual.  The connection of the Vatican to Cybele is so great that not a few writers have looked upon the Papal crest showing the crossed keys and seen not the keys of the kingdom24 bestowed by Jesus, but the keys of Janus and Cybele.  Could the Vatican sense a distant threat of its own, that modern Gallae (as modern transgender Pagans venerating Cybele prefer to be known) may stake a future claim upon the Vatican with a history of its own having been validated and their matriarchal culure having been accepted? The idea seems preposterous, laughable.  The vast majority of transpeople sense no resonance to Cybele.  But until fully disproven we can’t entirely reject it and it’s impossible to disprove much of anything regarding what goes on behind the closed doors of the Vatican.

More likely the Vatican’s position has helped to reframe its position as a force to be reckoned with in an age of engaging other faiths in the ecumenical spirit of Vatican II.  Since its inauguration by Pope John XXIII, popes have sought to engage with other faiths worldwide including a special meeting of world religious representatives at Assisi, all to find common ground for dialogue after centuries of literal and evangelical warfare.26  Certain Catholic factions have looked upon this and denounced the Vatican II popes as antipopes and have even denounced the Vatican with the same apocalyptic rhetoric as Protestant reformers.27  Clearly the Vatican has needed new enemies convenient to all faiths.  Transgender people, a minority of minorities, become an easy target, an ancient enemy citable in Pagan Gallī which it could falsely characterize as a modern phenomenon via the slogan of this being an “age of sin against God the Creator.” It’s the mentality of schoolyard bullies who recruit others to target transgender schoolmates simply because they’re easy targets and because it establishes perceptions via a false-morality that the bully is really a force for good.

Pope Francis would have done far better to reframe his comments against the exploiters of victims, whether migrants or transgender people, instead of the victims themselves.  This would have served a nobler purpose to decry the sex industry that exploits migrant and transperson alike.  This entity plays upon the sexual cravings of people worldwide, even church officials, through depictions of sex workers without any consideration for sacred aspects of sexuality.  Transpeople have often been used in pornography.  The National Transgender Discrimination Survey indicates 16% of transpeople have engaged in the sex trade… a significant minority, but a minority not representing the entirety as many religionists think they represent.28

But instead, Pope Francis sent a mixed message  by which he couched within rhetoric describing a welcoming heart as an “absolute” an issue of what he regarded… and wants us to all regard… as enemies against God, less what has been perceived as traditional religious enemies and more against what’s perceived to be new ones.  It’s rhetoric consistent with Pope Francis receiving transgender representatives in his chambers29 and conducting a funeral for a homeless transsexual.30 He also compared transgender people to nuclear weapons.31  These acts denote cosmetics, not genuine change.  His mixed message to transsexuals might be metaphorically summed up in the statement, “Come unto me ye who are weak and heavy laden and I will embrace you and poison your soup.”



  1. McElwee, Joshua J. Francis explains “Who am I to judge?” (January 10, 2016) Web:  National Catholic Reporter . Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  2. Bollettino (Papal Bulletin) Dialogo del Santo Padre con i Vescovi della Polonia (Krakow, 27Iuglio 2016), 02.08.2016 [English translation within the bulletin] Web: Press.Vatican. . Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  3. Most, Fr. William T. The Magisterium or Teaching Authority of the Church from The Basic Catholic Catachism: Part V: The Apostles’ Creed IX-XII. (1990) Web: Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  4. (n.a.) The Pontifical Academy of Sciences (n.d.) Website: Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  5. Genesis 1:27.
  6. (n.a.) Answers to Your Questions About Individuals With Intersex Conditions (2006) Web: American Psychological Association. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  7. Matt, Daniel C. (contributor). The Zohar, Volume 1. (2004) Stanford University Press. ISBN: 0804747474, 9780804747479, p. 218.
  8. Bradner, Eric. Huckabee: I Wish I Could’ve Identified As Female In High School Gym (June 3, 2015) Web: CNN Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  9. Bornstein, Kate. Gender Outlaw: On Men Women and the Rest of Us.  (1995) Vintage. ISBN: 0679757015, 978-0679757016
  10. Lori. Transgender Voices: Beyond Women and Men (2008) University Press of New England  ISBN: 1584656832, 978-1584656838
  11. Herthel, Jessica; Jennings, Jazz; and McNicholas, Shelagh. I Am Jazz (2014) Dial Books.  ISBN: 0803741073,  978-0803741072
  12. Jennings, Jazz. Being Jazz: My Life As a (Transgender) Teen (2016) Crown Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 0399554645, 978-0399554643
  13. (n.a.) What Are Some Examples of Card Stacking Propaganda? (n.d.) Web: Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  14. (n.a.) The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (n.d.) Web: . Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  15. Winfield, Nicole. Vatican Denounces Transsexuals (January 31, 2003) Associated Press, Web:  Free Republic. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  16. Goldstein, Laurie. Bishops Select Lay Board On Sexual Abuse Review (July25, 2002) Web: New York Times. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  17. Witkin, Rachel. Hopkins Hospital: a history of sex reassignment (May 1, 2014) Web:  The Johns Hopkins Newsletter. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  18. (n.a.) Gender Identity: Biology or Environment? (April 2013) Web:  American Psychological Association. . Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  19. Israely, Jeff. The Pope’s Christmas Condemnation of Transsexuals (December 23, 2008) Web: Time,8599,1868390,00.html Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  20. Stuart, Lynnea Urania. The Pillars of Gender (July 29, 2016) Web: . Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  21. Matthew 21:31,32.
  22. (n.a.) Altar dedicated to Cybele and Attis (d.) Web: Vatican Museum.  Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  23. Schmitz, Leonhard, Ph.D., F.R.S.E. Galli. Quoting Smith, William, D.C.L., LL.D (1875) Web:*/Galli.html. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  24. Matthew 16:19
  25. Hislop, Alexander. The Two Babylons (2006) Book Tree. ISBN: 1585092738, 9781585092734, p. 207.
  26. Murphy, William F. Remembering Assisi After 20 Years (Octover 23, 2006) Web: America:  The National Catholic Review Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  27. (n.a.) Why John Paul II & Benedict XVI Were Antipopes and Frances IS (n.d.) Opus Dei Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  28. Grant, Jaimee M., PhD; Mottet, Lisa A., J.D.; and Tanks, Justin, D. Min. Injustice At Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, Executive Summary (2011) National Center for Transgender  Equality and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, p. 3.  Web:
  29. White, Hilary. Pope Receives ‘Transgender’ Woman and Female Partner for Private Audience (January 28, 2015) Web:  com. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  30. Allen, Jr., John L. Funeral for Transgendered (sic) Person at Pope’s Church (December 27, 2013) Web:  National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  31. (n.a.) Pope Francis Compares Transgender People To Nuclear Weapons In New Book (February 20, 2015) Web: CBS Local, San Francisco. Retrieved August 11, 2016.