Theology of the Body Thursday #24: Caitlyn Jenner, Compassion and SSDD

Once again, we see people talking past each other instead of to each other. Far too many people on both sides are using inflammatory language and shutting one another down. Truly SSDD. What is the hot-button topic this week, you may ask? Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair.


Our bodies are fundamental to who we are. They aren’t just an add on. They aren’t a tomb and they aren’t a tool. Or as one otherwise objectionable blog post points out, “We are not minds in meat suits; we are not blocks of animated carbon with interchangeable parts.” To insist otherwise is supporting a dangerous dualism that pits the body against the soul. God made both the body and the soul and both are part of who we are.


I could imagine that someone who is transsexual likely understands this truth more than most. Transsexuality is one of those things that you can’t possibly understand unless you’ve been in the person’s shoes. If I were to meet someone who, let’s say, lost their parents, although both of my parents are still with me, I could still fall back on the deaths of other close relatives and friends in effort to understand. There is no such fall back for transsexuality. It’s in a league of it’s own.

Someone who is transsexual would understand the truth as to the importance of the body because they want their body to reflect who they believe their deepest self to be. This idea of the body reflecting truth is a fundamental teaching of TOB.

Problems arise when we consider that the body we are born with is designed to reflect our identity. While we can choose our behavior, we cannot choose our identity. God doesn’t make mistakes. We fallen, imperfect creatures do.

I have no idea how to help those with gender dysphoria. Humans naturally gravitate toward quick fixes and easy answers. We do not want to spend time and wade through the murky, messy questions of life. We seem to have a philosophy of “if it feels good, do it.” Of course, we all naturally want to be happy and to experience pleasure. Various church leaders have said in the past that if the option is transition or suicide, by all means choose transition.

The best Catholic article about transsexuality that I found was from the Minnesota Catholic Conference. Here is the advice they gave:

The Church must actively extend the mercy of Jesus Christ and the healing and compassion he brings to all people. This includes contesting destructive social trends, imprudent public policy and harmful ideologies.


Yet, we also need to do something in the lives of real people. This requires not just talk, but an encounter with actual persons — persons who struggle with gender-identity confusion or sexual brokenness — and actively listening to their needs and concerns.


We must defend their authentic rights; protect them from cruel, dehumanizing acts; pray for them; and help them to know the father’s plan for how he created them.

The Church as Mother and Teacher needs to be a voice of Truth and Love in this fallen world. We, as her hands and feet, need to address the problems of the world with this same Truth and Love.