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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame alumna addresses Catholic response to gender revolution

Notre Dame alumna Mary Rice Hasson ’82 presented a lecture in Stapleton Lounge on Monday, offering what she considers to be a Catholic perspective in response to the gender revolution. Hasson is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and serves as director of the Catholic Women’s Forum.

Gender ideology affects a number of aspects of society, including language, policy, business and education, Hasson said. For this reason, she said, the Catholic Church cannot ignore gender.

“Gender is the ‘big word,’” she said. “Everything is changing in our culture and in our society. Just as the Pope called it a ‘global war’ on the family and said, ‘This is big,’ so too our culture says, ‘This is big.’”

Photo courtesy of Christina Herrera
Mary Rice Hasson, a Notre Dame alumna, presented her perspective on gender in Stapleton Lounge on Monday. As director of the Catholic Women’s Forum, Hasson aimed to share a Catholic view on the topic.

Hasson said several social movements that have culminated in a new wave of gender ideology referred to as “the gender revolution,” a term that gained support when it was published on the cover of National Geographic in 2017. She said people have come to define gender not just as male or female, but also as transgender, non-binary and genderqueer, to name a few identities among many.

Hasson said a gender transition consists of several consecutive steps, which include social transition, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and, finally, surgical transition. She said objectively determining the consequences of these steps can be difficult, however, because there is a lack of scientific research on the subject.

“We’re just now seeing the long-term implications of all these treatments,” Hasson said. “All we’ve got to go on is what the experts in the field are saying, and experts have been wrong many, many times.”

Instead of initiating a child’s gender transition at an early age, Hasson said people should rely on family counseling and a process called “watchful waiting,” in which the parents listen to a child’s gender dysphoria, but choose to wait before taking medical action.

Hasson said transitioning through the use of cross-sex hormones can lead a child who has not undergone puberty to lose his or her fertility. Parents should not get to choose whether their child undergoes this process because the child may become infertile as a result, she said.

“If I took one of my kids who’s 14 and said, ‘Sterilize him,’ they’d call Child Protective Services,” she said. “Parents don’t have that decision or right to make that decision for a child but here we have sort of the myth that a 14-year-old understands the implications of taking cross-sex hormones and losing their fertility, a decision that will affect them the rest of their lives.”

Because of the lack of research and evidence on gender transitions, Hasson said it is important to look to scientific truths.

“Sex refers to reproductive biology,” she said. “There are only two sexes because it is determined by reproduction. Can you really transition from male to female and female to male? The answer is no.”

Hasson said the Catholic response to the gender revolution is in agreement with science.

“Gender ideology is completely contradictory to Catholicism,” Hasson said. “Someone who embraces gender ideology buys into the fact that we identify ourselves.”

Hasson said gender dysphoria is comparable to other situations within medicine, such as anorexia and body integrity identity disorder, when a person wishes to have a limb amputated.

“There are people who feel like they are disabled and they want doctors to make them disabled,” she said. “Literally, they want doctors to cut off their arm or cut off their leg because they identify as a disabled person. They want their bodies to match. Do we want to go along with that or do we recognize, ‘Wait a minute, there’s a reality here. Our bodies have a reality?’”

Gender ideology disregards the fundamental Catholic belief that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God, which is the most important reason that the Church is particularly concerned with the gender revolution, Hasson said.

“God created us, male or female,” Hasson said. “That means I need to pay attention to the truth to my body.”