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A Xt3 Member asked at 6:50am on October 15th 2017
Dear Father.

If someone has gender dysphoria and shows up dressed as the opposite sex, is it okay to address them by their new chosen name and use their preferred gender pronoun (ie she/her, if the person was originally born a man and vice versa).

Or is it giving tacit approval to that?

Many thanks


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Hi Mark, the first requirement for all Christians is to love Jesus in our neighbour, especially in the one we regard as the 'least.' If I get that right, then the particular behaviour in any circumstance will follow, since I'm asking - as your question shows you're asking too - how can I love Jesus in this person who experiences himself or herself as transgender.

I'd be inclined to think of how Jesus responded to the woman caught committing adultery. Everyone surrounding her treated her as a sinful object, to be disposed of by stoning her to death. But Jesus went straight to her heart and saw her as an extremely vulnerable human being who'd been looking for love in the wrong place. And he took the risk of not treating her as a public sinner, knowing that those around him were only too keen on catching him out if he didn't agree with stoning her. Having asked her if anyone remained to condemn her, she replied, 'no, Master,' and he simply said, 'neither do I, go and sin no more' (see Jn 8: 1-11).

But before saying that, he'd built a relationship with her. And maybe that's what we have to try to do with the transgendered person who comes our way. Because only if they experience our genuine love for themselves as persons will it ever be possible to open up a dialogue with them to the point that we could encourage them to change their wrongful lifestyle. So I'd be inclined, if you're able, to suggest calling them by whatever term they want to be called.

It could be quite a different situation if you were in a position of authority, say a school principal, responsible for a sports activity, and so on. Then you might have to take a stand, since other people involved could be scandalized by publicly accepting their position. This is a very thorny question, and I'm not trying to deal with all these other situations here. Very best, Fr Brendan
Xt3's Ask a Priest answered at 3:39am on October 20th 2017 reply

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