Tag Archives: human nature

Glimpsing the human cost of getting nature wrong

In February of the year, Ohio parents lost custody of their 17-year-old daughter because a judge ruled she should be allowed to receive therapy to identify as a boy.

Americans will see more cases like this as government officials align with transgender activists to promote a radical view of the human person and endorse entirely experimental medical procedures. At stake are not only parental rights, but the well-being of children who suffer from gender dysphoria.

Transgender activists maintain that when a child identifies as the opposite sex in a manner that is “consistent, persistent, and insistent,” the appropriate response is to support that identification. This requires a four-part protocol, as I painstakingly detail in my new book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.

First, a social transition: giving a child as young as three a new wardrobe, new name, new pronouns, and treating the child as a member of the opposite sex.

Second, puberty blockers to prevent the normal process of maturation and development. This means there is no progression of the pubertal stage, and a regression of sex characteristics that have already developed.

Third, around age 16, comes the administration of cross-sex hormones: Boys are given feminizing hormones such as estrogen, and girls are given masculinizing hormones such as testosterone. The purpose is to mimic the puberty process that would occur in the opposite sex.

Finally, at age 18, these individuals may undergo sex-reassignment surgery: amputation of primary and secondary sex characteristics and plastic surgery to create new sex characteristics.

Starting a young child on a process of “social transitioning” followed by puberty-blocking drugs was unthinkable not long ago, and treatment is still experimental. Puberty- blocking drugs are not FDA-approved for gender dysphoria, but physicians use them off-label for this purpose. No laws in the U.S. prohibit use of puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones for children, or regulate age at which they may be administered.

Normally, 80 to 95 percent of children will naturally grow out of any gender- identity conflicted stage. But all the children placed on puberty blockers in the Dutch clinic that pioneered their use persisted in a transgender identity, and went on to begin cross-sex hormone treatment.

This treatment protocol can interfere with the resolution of a gender- identity conflict. The rush of sex hormones and the natural bodily development during puberty may be the very things that help an adolescent actually identify with his or her biological sex.

And sadly, the medical evidence suggests that “transitioning” does not adequately address the mental health problems suffered by those identifying as transgender. Even when procedures are successful technically and cosmetically, and even in cultures relatively “trans-friendly,” people still face poor psychosocial outcomes.

A more cautious therapeutic approach begins by acknowledging the vast majority of children with a gender-identity conflict will outgrow it. An effective therapy looks into reasons for the child’s mistaken gender beliefs, and addresses the problems the child believes will be solved if his body is altered.

As I document in When Harry Became Sally, mental health professionals liken gender dysphoria to other dysphorias (serious discomfort with one’s body) such as anorexia. These tend to involve false assumptions or feelings that solidify into mistaken beliefs about oneself.

As a result, some mistakenly believe that a drastic body change will solve or minimize their psychosocial problems. But altering the body through hormones and surgery doesn’t fix the real problem, any more than liposuction cures anorexia nervosa.

The most helpful therapies do not try to remake the body to conform to misguided thoughts and feelings—which is impossible—but rather help people move toward accepting the reality of their bodily selves.

Biology isn’t bigotry. And there are human costs to getting human nature wrong.

RYAN T. ANDERSON, PH.D. (@ RyanTAnd) was a featured speaker at the Legatus 2018 Summit. He is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and author of the book Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, and of the recently released When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.

God’s four gardens – cultivated for man’s well-being

We fine three essential elements in a garden: order, beauty, and life. Order sets a garden apart from the wilderness. Its boundaries and design establish it as a specific place unlike any other. Second, a garden has beauty – a diversity of flowers and plants, colors, sizes, and shapes – that pleases the eye. Finally, a garden has life. Plants grow and bear fruit, and animals find their territory a pleasing place to live.

This is what God desired for us in that first garden, the Garden of Eden: order, beauty, and life. Order, not just of the Garden, but of our own lives. He established us in a harmonious (well-ordered) relationship with Him, which bestowed in turn a harmony within ourselves and with others, the integration of soul and body, man and woman, man and creation. Likewise, the beauty of that first Garden was not of the plants and flowers, but of our souls, the surpassing beauty of the only creature created in His image and likeness. And He bestowed life there as well – the unending life with God.

By his sin Adam rejected the Gardener and lost the goods of the Garden. We have lost order, beauty, and life. Rebellion against God has thrown His creation into disarray. We now find soul pitted against body, man against woman, and all creation at odds with man. It has brought the ugliness and horror of sin into the world. Most of all, it has brought death into the world, death in place of life.

In a second garden our Lord began the restoration, the redemption; Jesus went “where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered” (John 18:1; Mt. 26:30; Mk 14:26; Lk 22:39). He entered the Garden of Gethsemane to undo the rebellion of the Garden of Eden. In that Garden He took upon Himself all the disorder, ugliness, and death that sin brought into the world. He who is Beauty Itself became the Man of sorrows. He “who knew no sin” became sin for us (2 Cor 5:21). Life itself became death.

In a third garden our Lord continues His work – by rising from the dead. How fitting that His tomb should be in a garden – to complete the restoration of God’s original plan. Indeed, when she first sees Him, Mary Magdalene takes our Lord to be the gardener (Jn 20:15). And in a certain sense, He is. He rises as the divine Gardener, to restore order, beauty, and life.

He completes His work in a fourth garden: the human soul. He desires to enter our souls by His grace and dwell within as the divine Gardener. He desires to reestablish within us His gifts of order, beauty, and life intended from the beginning – order, to heal that division and discord within us that produces all the division and discord outside of us; beauty, to rid us of the ugliness of sin and grant us the glory of His children; and life, that our hearts become lively and life-giving.

Excerpt by Rev. Paul D. Scalia from Chapter 9 “Feasts,” of his book That Nothing May Be Lost: Reflections on Catholic Doctrine and Devotion (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2017), pp. 175-76, “Four Gardens” section. www.ignatius.com. Used with permission.

FR. PAUL SCALIA, son of the late Judge Antonin Scalia, is Episcopal Vicar for Clergy (Diocese of Arlington). He will be a featured speaker at “Legatus at the Capitol” on May 25.

Scripture 101

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rab-bo’ni!” -John 20: 15-16

Catechism 101

After his fall, man was not abandoned by God. On the contrary, God calls him and in a mysterious way heralds the coming victory over evil and his restoration from his fall. This passage in Genesis is called the Protoevangelium (“first gospel”): the first announcement of the Messiah and Redeemer, of a battle between the serpent and the Woman, and of the final victory of a descendant of hers. Catechism of the Catholic Church, #410

Care for others actualizes human heart

According to a Roman myth, Care was amusing herself one day by molding earth in various shapes. Finding a particular shape that she wanted to have life, she beseeched Jupiter to grant it a soul. Jupiter obliged but objected when Care wanted the new creature to be named after her. Saturn, the god of time, intervened, ruling that upon death, the creature would return to earth, its soul to Jupiter, but all the time it was alive it was to be entrusted to Care.

Our name is Care. We realize our identity when we care for others. The inability or reluctance to care shows a human being to be less than humane. Caring for others is so fundamental to human nature as to coincide with it. There are many forms of care.

Therefore, we can express our essential humanity in many caring ways. When we prefix the word “health,” we refer to the most evident, appealing, and urgent of all forms of care. The first obstacle in the path of health care is inconvenience. This was not a problem with Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Jean Vanier, Tom Dooley, Jérôme Lejeune, Mother Alfonsa, and many other heroes of health care. But in a society overshadowed by the Culture of Death, inconvenience is an obstacle that many people find difficulty in overcoming.

If one category of human life –the unborn –can be deemed worthless, so can other categories, such as the severely disabled, the elderly, and the terminally ill. Wesley J. Smith, in his book, Culture of Death, offers some shocking examples of this reluctance to be health-givers. In one instance, a daughter asks her mother’s doctor why he is refusing to prescribe antibiotics for the 92-year-old woman. The doctor defends his position by stating that “an infection will kill her sooner or later. So it might as well be this infection.” In another example, a doctor remarks, “If anyone so much as whispers cortisone [a palliative agent] or ‘uncertain diagnosis,’ I’ll hit him (136).

” We find an extraordinary and most edifying example of health care between a man, better known to the world for his basketball exploits, and his wife of 63 years. During the last dozen years of their marriage, Bob Cousy’s wife, Missie, was slowly succumbing to the ravages of dementia. Each morning, Cousy would lay out Missie’s pills, the newspaper, a fiber bar, and a banana. Then he would gently awaken his “bride” and lead her to the kitchen where she would read the newspaper. It would take two or three hours for her to get through the pages since she would underline each sentence in every story. She would ask her husband the same question over and over. She sometimes hallucinated, became disoriented, and struggled to retain her balance. But she always recognized her husband and bristled at any suggestion that she was suffering from dementia. Cousy did all the household chores while graciously letting her think that she did them herself.

When she passed away in 2013, the former basketball great was inconsolable. “I can’t put the pills out in the morning. And I can’t care for her anymore,” he said. Nonetheless, each night, when he goes to bed, he tells his wife that he loves her. He never felt defeated by the challenge of caring for his ailing spouse on a full-time basis. “It drew us closer together,” he said. “It was never a chore, because I knew she would have done the same for me.” Bob Cousy’s rightful name is Care, not “The Houdini of the Hardwood.”

Love does not look at inconvenience, nor does it shrink in the presence of suffering. A person who is sick calls forth in us a special feeling of solicitude. Our attitude toward others is truly humane when we see them, as we should see ourselves, as mortal, fragile, and dependent. Therefore, I and my neighbor are always in need of reciprocal care.

DONALD DEMARCO’s latest book is Why I Am Pro-Life and Not Politically Correct. He is a senior fellow of Human Life International, professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University (Waterloo, Ontario), adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College (Cromwell, CT), and regular columnist for St. Austin Review.

The Immortal in You: How Human Nature Is More Than Science Can Say

Michael Augros
Ignatius Press, 324 pages

What does it mean to be human? Are we just another animal, more intellectually advanced, as science might suggest? Or is there something more to us, something that sets us apart and gives us a special place in the universe? Philosophy professor Michael Augros takes on scientism — the idea that science tells us everything that is knowable — and summarily dismantles it as applied to the human person. Science might describe how our bodies work, but it can’t get at who we are, the truths about human nature, why we were created or where we are destined. Augros’s trek gets into the deep at times, but it’s well worth the trip.

Order: Ignatius PressAmazon