Bruce Jenner & the Transgender Question

Commenting on the recent Bruce Jenner “gender reassignment” issue, Father Mike Schmitz discusses the difference between one’s perception of gender and gender reality. Gender stereotypes have altered our perception of what it means to be a man or a woman, but it is unhealthy to expect reality to conform to our perceptions. If there is someone in your life struggling with gender identity, or any other brokeness, Father Mike encourages you to be there for them.

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  • Ed Vizenor

    Thank you Father for speaking up on this topic. We need more priests who are not afraid and who speak the truth in love… like you just did. God bless you.

  • William LaRue

    Thanks for a truly great video, Fr Mike. I started watching this prepared to click out while screaming in outrage at the horrible things that I was hearing, but I am glad that I just sat there and listened. I agree with you up to a point on the whole reassignment business, but I think that there are cases that are different enough that reassignment is the best option for the patient; I don’t think that the candidate pool is anywhere near as large as some would have us believe. I absolutely agree about the dysmorphia cases, and I am moved by your alignment of these cases with Jesus’ call for us to walk with the wounded. That’s really the core issue here, and the acceptance of the individual, wounds and all is all too often unaddressed in contemporary culture. You made my day; Thanks!

  • Pingback: Fr. Mike Schmitz on Gender Reassignment Surgery | Catholic Parish Support()

  • Robin Mathew

    A highly problematic take on Caitlyn Jenner and transgender people, brought to you by a member of the clergy. If anyone doesn’t care to watch Father Mike’s whole video, or has seen it and wants to know what’s wrong with it, see my breakdown below:
    1) Father Mike starts out by comparing his young nephew pretending to be a dog on one occasion (and is basically told to “stop that” by his dad), with a transgender person who throughout their life feels they are another gender. Not only is that incredibly demeaning as a comparison, those two situations are obviously different scenarios. Father Mike, do you really believe that this young child at play believes he is a dog and will continue to believe he is a dog throughout his life? No? Then that’s a stupid comparison.

    2) Father Mike then plays a semantical game, saying he has “no judgment” on Caitlyn Jenner, simply an “assessment” where he proceeds to judge Caitlyn and call her experience of her own gender “inaccurate” because Father Mike’s construct of gender differs from Caitlyn’s. Nice try Judgey McJudgerson! He also continues to use the wrong name/gender pronouns throughout his “assessment,” which is transphobic and at the very least not respectful of what another person has expressed she would like to be addressed.

    3) Father Mike looks earnestly into the camera, asking men and women what it feels like to be their gender, and then what it feels like to be the opposite gender, and then concludes we have no way of knowing what the opposite gender feels like other than by using gender stereotypes. Father Mike then creates an alternate universe where parents decide that their biologically male child is female because he plays with dolls and likes the color pink. For someone asking for us to focus on “reality,” Father Mike chooses to describe fantasy situations that do not reflect what actually happens with parents with transgender children. The question Father Mike never asks himself and should is what it feels like to be a transgender person, because if he did, he would find that one, he doesn’t know, and two, someone who is transgender doesn’t decide to be transgender as much as he has not decided to be presumably heterosexual, and that experience is not based on liking a particular toy or color.

    4) Father Mike continues to try to make his point about gender stereotypes, saying that his sister has “masculine” traits according to him- masculine traits like being “really smart,” “hard-charging”(?), and she “takes the bull by the horns.” Right. Father Mike then asks, is she a man? No. Why? Because she’s a woman. Father Mike uses the same mind-blowing logical breakdown to explain how his brother-in-law is a man, well, because he is a man. Try to hold onto your caps, it gets better.

    5) Father Mike reveals that his construct of gender is based on the body. He reiterates that if (your) perception doesn’t align with (his perception of) reality, then your perception is what’s wrong. What Father Mike appears to be conflating is sex and gender, and these are two different things. Sex is biological and relates to the physical body, while gender encompasses biological, cognitive, and social aspects of a human being including identity, expression, and the expectations of others. Because gender and sex are not the same thing, it is possible for a person’s sex and gender to disagree based on an innate understanding of one’s own gender, and thus Father Mike’s perception of someone else’s sex does not allow him to dictate their innate gender identity.

    6) Father Mike then compares anorexia and Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) with someone who is transgender- an often-used comparison in recent media. Addressing this requires a lot of unpacking that this article does a pretty good job with: http://roygbiv.jezebel.com/stop-confusing-gender-dysphoria-with-body-dysmorphia-al-1583049920

    7) Father Mike finally insinuates that transgender people are “broken.” In his now-classic back-tracking and claiming-to-not-say-what-he’s-in-fact-saying style of explanation, he says “broken” doesn’t mean wrecked, ruined, or bad… it just means “wounded.” This is a classic tactic of a bigot- to say that your innate lived experience (whether it’s race, sexuality, gender identity, etc.) is what causes your “brokenness” or makes you “someone who is hurting,” and to ignore and absolve his own and society’s treatment of you. This treatment is what stigmatizes and pathologizes an individual’s innate characteristics and creates “broken” people.

    8) Father Mike ends by claiming he is walking with people and is delivering a message of love, not criticism. If that’s true, he should tread more carefully because through his very problematic approach to discussing someone else’s lived experience, he often steps directly onto the heads of those he claims to love. Watch where you step Father Mike, lest your steps be watched.

    • Bob Kroll

      Robin, when you called Fr. Mike a bigot (#7), you lost your credibility immediately. Fr. Mike is not a bigot, and I know him personally. And is that a threat at the end of # 8?

      • Robin Mathew

        Hi Bob, I didn’t call Fr. Mike a bigot, but I did say that his arguments and his framing of the issues indicate bigoted techniques (bigotry defined as the “holding of predefined negative views about a class of people). Fr. Mike essentially calling transgender people “broken” people is a bigoted statement and patently insulting, however well-meaning Fr. Mike professes to be.

        And the last statement is not a threat (I’m sorry if it came off that way)! It was meant to be a play off of “judge not lest ye be judged.” Fr. Mike expressed that he walks with people in his message, but where he “steps” in his judgment appears to be more harmful and at the expense of transgender people than for their benefit. Saying his “steps” would be watched is to say when his steps/message do not convey the love he thinks it does, he should expect that to be noticed and commented on.

  • Lady Bird

    Your comment about the woman who could walk but truly believed she couldn’t, is her reality. It feels absolutely real to her. In the news the last couple of weeks on The Doctors and Dr. Phil a blind woman was featured. She previously had sight but her brain or her perception told her she should be blind. Her anxiety over this was overwhelming. She found a doctor who systematically put acid eye drops in her eyes until she was totally blind. The blind woman sincerely knew she was a blind woman trapped in a body of a woman with sight. She did not regret the end result of the painful process. This compulsion is very real I am sure. Who would do that to their bodies if it was just a desire? Anxiety seems to be at the crux of the problem. I knew someone who had chronic panic attacks. His first one occurred while driving a truck, so did subsequent attacks. He ended up with a phobia for driving or riding in trucks. If he got in one he would get huge panic attacks. He sold his truck and never rode one again. The problem was his anxiety, not the truck. He did not wan to take drugs and was happy never driving a truck again. But, as time went on, his anxiety grew and he retreated to his house and goes out rarely. What to attribute anxiety to in our society is a conundrum. Diet? Mom? Dad? Bullies? Bad Experience? Preservatives? Diet Coke? Immunizations? Who knows, but we need to find out.

  • CatholicGirl77

    Dear father Mike,
    (Sorry if my english is not that great)
    I have a question for you about someone I love very much and is dear to my heart! She is in her teens (16) and I think she is hurting. She wants to be a boy and wants something to happen about it… Her mom doesn’t want that to happen and doesn’t know what to do. The girl I’m talking about has only non-catholic friends and doesn’t pray that often. She is going to church every sunday and has great questions, but no people (except for her mom) to ask them to. When I want to listen to her and try to get answers, she pushes me away. I try to do everything with love and I pray for her, but is there anything I can do more? The envirement she lives in is also not that great for her to really figure out what’s going on. I want her to talk to a priest, but how can I get her to it? And most priests she doesn’t like that much… I’m worried about her! I hope you have something that can help her and if not, I will just search further. Thanks anyway 🙂
    Thank you for your teaching and your video’s!! They inspire me and help me grow in faith.
    God bless!