Hi Barbara, thanks for your question, which I won't attempt to fully answer here - I'd suggest checking out the study by Michelle Cretella, MD, 'Gender Dysphoria in Children,' American College of Pediatricians - August 2016, along with a few articles I've saved on the topic: 'Pediatricians back Pope Francis on 'gender theory' Thomas D. Williams, Crux August 9, 2016; 'Dutch cardinal floats idea of encyclical on gender theory,' Simon Caldwell, Crux, November 7, 2016; Paul McHugh, 'Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution A drastic physical change doesn't address underlying psycho-social troubles,' Updated May 13, 2016, Wall Street Journal; Peter J. Leithart 'How to Preach About Bruce Jenner,' First Things, May 6, 2015; Brendan O'Neill, 'Call me Caitlyn or else: the rise of authoritarian transgender politics,' 2/6/15, Spectator; Margaret Wente, 'The raging battle over transgender kids,' The Globe and Mail, 8/5/15.
First, I think we've learned from the experience of those who identify as homosexual or lesbian, to first of all respond to the person with love, whoever he or she may be. A male who strongly identifies with being female, or a female who strongly identifies with being male, is for every Christian, a face of Jesus - and in the suffering that often accompanies these experiences, a face of Jesus Forsaken on the Cross.
Second, as with homosexuality, we have to distinguish between individuals and the aggressive and intolerant movements that claim to speak for what are called trans people. While each individual is a brother or sister to be loved, those who are pushing their case have to be argued with. For starters, they represent a very tiny minority of people. But the more that media, medical doctors and psychiatrists advocate for what are often irreversible procedures as necessary, the more that minority may grow, since especially young people may be unsure of their sexual identity and advocacy for sex-change can lead them to believe it's necessary for them. However, young people are rarely able to make balanced judgments about life-changing procedures, particularly when the majority of those who feel they need such change grow beyond that. The various articles I refer to above go into the details more than I can here.
Thirdly, demands for implementing physical changes to one's sex occur within a world where the notion that there is a God whose plan for humanity as outlined in Genesis is to be followed is completely rejected. Even without religious belief, a Plato or an Aristotle, on the basis of reason, argue for accepting a moral order which is above the feelings and desires of any individual. There's an old pagan quotation as true as ever, that 'If we throw mother nature out the window, she comes back in the door with a pitchfork.' The various essays I've quoted bring out the serious health dangers involved in the lifelong hormonal treatments required to maintain the sex change against the sex one was born with, along with the enormous psychological burdens and suicide rate of trans people.
So what would I say to a person experiencing themselves as trans? Firstly, not to rush into a treatment that may be irreversible and which you may deeply regret later. Secondly, God will never allow anyone to be tempted beyond their abilities, and try to humbly accept - as many who experience themselves as gay do - that they are bound by the same rules of chastity as everyone else, so that the only context for moral sexual activity is within sacramental marriage. Very best, Fr Brendan