Arlington, VA Catholic Bishop: 'No One Is Transgender'

By Michael W. Chapman | August 24, 2021 | 12:13am EDT
Most Rev. Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington, Va.  (Diocese of Arlington)
Most Rev. Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington, Va. (Diocese of Arlington)

(CNS News) -- In a new document on the human person and gender ideology, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, head of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Va., explains that God and the church teach that a person "is created male or female," and that "no one 'is' transgender."

"The Church teaches that a person is created male or female," says the bishop. "No one 'is' transgender.... The Church does not teach that people who experience gender dysphoria or confusion are immoral or bad. At the same time, a person who deliberately rejects his or her given identity or the sexed body and seeks harmful medical or surgical interventions is pursuing a path that is objectively wrong and harmful on many levels."

The Church wants to lead such people "to the truth and to healing," reads the document. 

Charlotte Clymer, a transgender "female" (biological male), who has been named a 2021 fall Fellow at Georgetown University, the oldest "Catholic" university in the country.  (Twitter)
Charlotte Clymer, a transgender "female" (biological male), who has been named a 2021 fall Fellow at Georgetown University, the oldest "Catholic" university in the country. (Twitter)

Bishop Burbridge also explains that he prepared this new document, A Catechesis on the Human Person and Gender Ideology, because the public schools in particular are "aggressively" promoting false ideas about gender and sexuality, and parents are desperate for help to fight back.

"[O]ur culture is experiencing a rapid rise in the number of persons claiming an identity contrary to their biological sex," states Bp. Burbidge in his introduction. "Attempts to accommodate such claims already have resulted in tremendous upheavals in our social, legal, and medical systems."

To address these errors with charity and love for our fellow human beings, we must speak the truth clearly and simply, following reason, the natural law, and basic science, says the bishop. 


"[O]ne cannot deny or obscure the truth of our created nature and human sexuality," adds the bishop.


He then explains that, based on medicine, natural law, and divine revelation, "we know that each person is created either male or female, from the moment of conception.... A person’s sex is an immutable biological reality, determined at conception."

"[S]ex is genetically determined at conception and [is] present in every cell of the body," states Burbidge. "Because the body tells us about ourselves, our biological sex does in fact indicate our inalienable identity as male or female ... a truth reflected in every cell of the body."

Further, as the natural law and the church teach, "man and woman were made 'for each other,'" they are "complementary as masculine and feminine. In marriage, God unites them in such a way that, by forming 'one flesh,' they can transmit human life: 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.'"

It is because of this order, this plan of God (evident in Nature), that "sexual difference is at the heart of family life," states the bishop. Thus, it follows, "Children need, and have a right to, a father and a mother."

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

As for gender confusion, a sense that one's sexual identity is different from one's biological sex, the bishop explains that the American Psychiatric Association labels this "gender dysphoria." 

This disorder, theologically, reflects the "broader disharmony caused by original sin," states Burbidge, who adds that, "Every individual experiencing this condition should be treated with respect, justice, and charity."

Unfortunately, there are not a few people who advocate that this disorder is normal and should be affirmed and promoted by all the levers of society. This is pernicious, says Burbidge, because they are pushing ideas and therapies based on false premises.

"In this sensitive area of identity, however, there is a great danger of a misguided charity and false compassion," writes the bishop. "In this regard, we must recall, 'Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral.'"

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

"The claim to 'be transgender' or the desire to seek 'transition' rests on a mistaken view of the human person, rejects the body as a gift from God, and leads to grave harm," Burbidge continues.  "To affirm someone in an identity at odds with biological sex or to affirm a person’s desired 'transition' is to mislead that person. It involves speaking and interacting with that person in an untruthful manner." (Emphasis added.)

"In addition, 'gender-affirming' medical or surgical interventions cause significant, even irreparable, bodily harm to children and adolescents," according to the document. "These include the use of puberty blockers (in effect, chemical castration) t... cross-sex hormones ... and surgery to remove an adolescent’s healthy breasts, organs, and/or genitals. These kinds of interventions involve serious mutilations of the human body, and are morally unacceptable."

Under "no circumstances can we confirm a person in error," reads the document. With that in mind, the invention of new names and pronouns for someone in "transition" must be rejected. 

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

"We can never say something contrary to what we know to be true," writes the bishop. "To use names and pronouns that contradict the person’s God-given identity is to speak falsely."

In "no circumstances should anyone be compelled to use language contrary to the truth," writes Burbidge. "Attempts by the state, corporations, or employers to compel such language, particularly by threats of legal action or job loss, are unjust. We must love in the truth, and truth must be accurately conveyed by our words."

The truth, supported by science and reason, proves that "a person is created male or female," says the bishop. "No one 'is' transgender."

In conclusion, Bishop Burbidge writes that those who are struggling with gender dysphoria to "guard against simplistic solutions that promise relief from your struggles by the change of name, pronouns, or even the appearance of your body. There are many who have walked that path before you only to regret it. The difficult but more promising path to joy and peace is to work with a trusted counselor, therapist, priest, and/or friend to come to an awareness of the goodness of your body and of your identity as male or female."


"More than anything else, the Church desires to bring you the love of Jesus Christ Himself," says the bishop. "That love is inseparable from the truth of who you are as one created in God’s image, reborn as a child of God, and destined for His glory."

For further resources and support, the document lists the following,

-- Courage and EnCourage:

-- EnCourage in the Diocese of Arlington –

-- Partners for Ethical Care: • Person and Identity:

-- Sex Change Regret: 

-- Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine: • Truth and Love:

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