Untradition: Inventing Transphobia and Protecting Transgender Rights

March 14, 2016 in General

Why is Family First pretending that LGBT New Zealanders and our allies are not aware of the shallow roots and recent origins of anti-transgender religious social conservative propaganda? It’s only a decade old. This time, they can’t even pretend that it’s a ‘tradition.’

To be precise, one might as well label the current conservative Catholic ‘natural law’ anathema against transgender identity, reassignment surgery and hormone treatment an ‘untradition,’ because that is exactly what it is. It dates from about 2003, at which point conservative Catholic endocrinologist Paul McHugh sat down with Pope John Paul II and then worked out the particular sectarian philosophical natural law spin that is opposed to transgender equality. It goes something like this- there are two ‘fixed’ and ‘essential’ forms of bodily sex, male and female, and the basis of this ‘sexual difference’ is chromosomal or genetic. Therefore, gender dysphoria ‘does not’ exist as a diagnostic category that can be used to sanction transitioning and social accommodation to that process, and all conservative Catholics must follow the promptings of official church philosophers and theologians to oppose transgender rights, the availability of medical and psychotherapeutic access and affirmative social and educational policies. With the loss of marriage equality across much of the western world, anti-transgender activism has become the Christian Right’s new obsession. It’s not one that appears to be particularly successful, whether in Australia, New Zealand or the United States.

I fail to see why a particular newly adopted sectarian religious philosophical position, as the anti-transgender untradition is, should be binding on those of us who belong to either secular or alternative religious ethical frameworks that are more inclusive. Which is what Family First’s animosity against the transgender community is. Or, for that matter, why Family First is pretending that mainstream US medical organisations like the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Bar Association, American Psychoanalytic Association, American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers and Child Welfare do not all support the right of transgender people who have a bonafide gender dysphoria diagnosis to begin the process of social transitioning. These organisations support transgender rights because of cumulative evidence-based medical and scientific proof that gender dysphoria exists and evidence that social transitioning, reassignment surgery and hormone treatment all benefit some transpeople.

Might one politely suggest that Mr McCoskrie curb his dogma?


Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance: http://www.religioustolerance.org/transexu15.htm, http://www.religioustolerance.org/catholic-views-on-transgender.htm

Lambda Legal: What the Experts Say: http://www.lambdalegal.org/sites/default/files/gdtb_2013_15_position_policy.pdf

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