William M. Joensen, Bishop of the Diocese of Des Moines since 2019, in Iowa (USA), published seven concrete rules against gender ideology, applicable from January 16, 2023, in the 80 parishes, 17 schools, and 4 hospitals of the diocese.
Priests, teachers, parents and school directors had indeed asked the diocese to establish unified standards for all schools and parishes. For Bishop Joensen, who has a long experience as a university chaplain before his appointment as bishop, these standards could also serve as an example in other dioceses.
These rules are presented following a six-page text entitled “Guide and policies on gender identity” and published on the diocesan website. The text is divided into three parts: “The Church and Her Mission in Every Time and Place”; “Gender Dysphoria and the Pastoral Imperative of Compassionate Concern”; “General Summary of Catholic Christian Teaching Regarding the Human Person.”
"The objective is not only to preserve the doctrine, but to protect people, and particularly minors harmed by erroneous science and by an ideology contrary to human nature", recalls the document.
The rules established are based on the principle of respect for people's biological sex, because the “concerns are grounded in divine revelation and the Church’s teaching that our identities as male and female are established as part of God’s providential plan for humanity. The mystery of human sexuality as a key component of personal identity is received a gift created by God that we are not authorized to seek to change.”
This is why they prohibit staff and institutions from using pronouns other than those related to real sex, locker rooms, and bathrooms will be segregated according to biological sex, and it will be forbidden to administer puberty blockers in Catholic institutions.
“All persons are to ordinarily present themselves in a manner consistent with their God-given dignity. Where a dress code or uniform exists, all persons should follow the dress code or uniform that accords with their biological sex.”
The American Diocese cites the American Psychiatric Association which has shown that gender dysphoria is “the psychological distress that results from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity” (Gender Dysphoria Diagnosis, 2022, Psychiatry.org).
He also mentions Pope Francis who wondered if “the so-called gender theory is not an expression of frustration and resignation, which seeks to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it. Yes, we risk taking a step backwards. The removal of difference in fact creates a problem, not a solution” (General Audience, April 15, 2015).
The six-page text is a detailed presentation of the Catholic position on sex and gender. When faced with someone with gender dysphoria, it explains, “discrimination and harsh treatment must be strongly avoided and corrected,” but the real help is “to accompany him or her along the path to personal healing, self-acceptance, integration and peace.”
“Any response that merely ratifies and reinforces the perceived disconnect between biological sex and gender affiliation is not true compassion.” In summary, the document explains, “’charity need to be understood, confirmed, and practiced in the light of truth,’ and thus such persons should be encouraged to seek harmony between their biological sex and gender, not through a rejection of one or the other, but through turning to Christ and medical and psychological services that are rooted in an authentic anthropology.”
“It would be contrary to an individual’s best interests for medical professionals, family members, other supporting figures such as teachers and mentors, as well as pastoral ministers to encourage and promote removal of healthy limbs. It is similarly contraindicated to encourage someone with gender dysphoria to undergo hormone treatment, or genital and other forms of mutilation,” explains the text, stating: “Such treatments, especially for children, are invasive and disruptive when aspects of the entire person are taken into consideration: biological, psychological and spiritual.”
Faced with gender ideology, the diocese opposes the reality of the human person which “is a body-soul union, and the body – as created male or female – is an essential aspect of the human person. There is a complex reality tied to the sex of a person involving the physical (i.e., in the gonads and other evident characteristics), psychological and social constituents.”
“A healthy person is one in whom these dimensions are integrated. The diagnosis of gender dysphoria does not merit the alteration of one's body through drug-induced hormone therapies or surgery; rather, one is entitled to receive unconditional love and support, as well as psychological and pastoral care.”
Iowa's leading LGBT lobby group immediately issued a statement accusing the Church of “hate” for misgendering. For them, only the people concerned can determine what is 'good' for them and not someone else.
And to inveigh: “Calling this compassion is equivalent to confusing hate with love. You cannot pretend to be compassionate while misgendering people and denying them access to any and all spaces under your control.” The lobby group's spokeswoman, Courtney Reyes, further railed against the fact that the rules “restrict medically necessary care, force staff to misgender students and creates major safety issues with regard to restroom usage.”
Democratic State Senator Claire Celsi spoke out against the diocese's policy, telling the Des Moines Register that “many people who are exploring their gender identities or sexual orientations are often young and at times look to teachers or school administrators for support. But the policies anchored by the diocese now remove schools as that place of refuge.”
For Leo James Terrell, a civil rights lawyer and Fox News consultant, stated that “this is a war on religion. (...) Woke activism has infiltrated public schools and their next targets are religious institutions. They try to create fear.”