Gender is a gift

I will keep this reflection short. It’s merely a thought.

With the introduction of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, the Church received a renewed understanding of human sexuality. Sexuality is not merely a vestige of our animal side, or a dirty blot tainting our spiritual life – it is a gift from God established at the beginning.

As we talk about gender and human sexuality in the Church, we need to focus on this gift, and what “GIFT” really means.

We should remember Christ’s words about the Sabbath: “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Christ spoke of the Sabbath as a gift that enlivens humanity rather than a prescription that binds him. Maybe we should think of gender similarly.

“Gender was made for humanity, not humanity for gender.”

When we talk about being a man or woman, we need to talk about the gift of God-given identity. What God established in the beginning wasn’t a taxology of rules; it was the gift of being alive as a unique, individual being in relationship with others.

Is this free gift the thing we’re talking about in contemporary conversations on gender? Are our norms of masculinity and femininity treated as celebrations of an authentic gift that comes from within, or are they treated as a to-do list of behavioral “rules”?

True gender comes from within, as an inner charism, a God-given impulse toward relationship with others. Too often gender-nonconforming individuals are told “You need to embrace your God-given maleness/femaleness.” The language of “the gift” is being used, but it’s being misused. A gift is not something that is shoved down people’s throats. Gifts enliven, not deaden.

The-CreationGifts are planted within to be shared without. When a gender-nonconforming person tries to share what they experience as their inner gift, how often are they shut down? How often is their gift seen as a curse, or “not the right gift,” “not their true gift”?

A professor of mine liked to talk about God’s gifts. He described the spiritual world as a God-given buffet of every possible variety of food. Some people might choose to stick with bread and water, but my professor said he would load up his plate with as much as he could of everything. “If God is offering,” he said with a shrug, “then I’m accepting.”

Maybe this simple attitude is all we need to understand gender non-conforming individuals, whether intersex, transgender, or genderqueer. God has offered us these people, these individuals, this myriad of flavors and expressions. If God is offering, I’m accepting.


15 thoughts on “Gender is a gift

    • The biggest problem with what Pope Francis said is that it enables anti-trans people to attack us. As to the actual content of what he says, it doesn’t really hurt trans* people. I don’t think gender is completely socially constructed. If it were, I’d be a cisgender guy right now because I’d be socialized into maleness. Maybe Pope Francis misunderstands what being trans* is (assuming he was directly addressing trans* people). At face value though, he’s just addressing the academic idea that “gender” is a meaningless social category.

  1. As always, your views and the underpinnings are pleasant and solid. I fear though, that the Church has cast itself into a dire light in my world view. I was honestly waiting to see if you would mention the comments from Pope Francis in comparing transgender rights to nuclear weapons (one easily found source: )

    I’m afraid that if the head of the church holds these views, I cannot in good conscience stave off the clearly endorsed bigotry of its members. As such, I have since withdrawn myself from its clutches. I was mostly just curious how you find the strength to remain faithful to a church that clearly is not faithful to you.

  2. Such an uplifting post on the bountifulness of God, albeit a sad reflection on how so many God-fearing people seem to believe some kind of narrow conformity is the best way to thank God for this bountifulness (as if the best way to show appreciation for a Christmas dinner was to only eat the brussel sprouts, and insist on everyone else following suit…)

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  4. Hi, Although I am not in the best of moods, after a horrific battle ended last week, with yet again my life being credibly threatened, but what they hey, that is my life.

    IF GOD IS OFFERING, then I am taking.


    These are some pretty stunning ideas. I took time, much time for those to sink, in. They, those ideas, are not totally in me, like water with a plant at first, but at least they were for a little while, and slowly they fill up all the shriveled membranes, as that type of water supports my core, so the I that is I, and the me that is me, can exist. Now, one of your poster’s asked how you can be in the church that clearly wants no part of you. And her point well taken, plus tacitly mine, is that the Church People want to keep the peace with its members, thus they seem to appease some of the LBGTI by appearances and show, but later show they have not changed one bit. The meeting with a transgendered man was seemingly totally disingenuous, by their later actions. I though like you talk of Anna, am very much trying to work within the church. And in that fight, yes a fight, like other famous saints of old, both women, fought with their own church, the Catholic Church, for the benefit off the church and all mankind. I am finding in that fight, the issues are again science versus the understanding of the church on their theology. Before I say my point for you. Let me put this here. It is from 1616.

    Cardinal Bellarmine’s Certificate (26 May 1616) We, Robert Cardinal Bellarmine, have heard tht Mr. Galileo Galilei is being slandered or alleged to have abjured in our hands and also to have been given salutary penances for this. Having been sought about the truth of the matter, we say that the above-mentioned Galileo has not abjured in our hands, or in the hands of others here in Rome, or anywhere else that we know, any opinion or doctrine of his; nor has he received any penances, salutary or otherwise. On the contrary, he has only been notified of the declaration made by the Holy Father and published by the Sacred Congregation of the Index, whose content is that the doctrine attributed to Copernicus (that the earth moves around the sun and the sun stands at the center of the world without moving from east to west) is contrary to Holy Scripture and therefore cannot be defended or held. In witness whereof we have written and signed this with our own hands, on this 26th day of May 1616.

    The same mentioned above, Robert Cardinal Bellarmine.

    Without further ado, let it be said by all those who honor truth, real truth, no matter where it leads, that contrary to their views, not only on totally understanding scripture, not only that only they totally understand scripture as said in other documents of the time, that indeed they do not hold any of those positions securely. The earth revolves around the sun. They erred greatly in scripture. Neither the sun, nor the church, being normal is new. The church (really church people and not the church) makes error after error on some things, always trying to damage itself with new errors, while keeping totally the things that are true, and the sun keeps the earth in it’s place, refreshing it with photons and particles, to feed, clothe humanity, so the errors made by all of us some of the time, have time to heal. LOVE and love, …Katerina.,

    Sent from my iPad


  5. A passing thought on the “church people” and the church. They are not the same. The “church people” of their time killed Joan of Arc. The church made her a saint. LOVE and love, …Katherina.,

    Sent from my iPad


  6. Being accepted is a great thing about the church. Transgender and Gays should be accepted but they also need to respect traditions like marriage. Forcing change to tradition is disrespectful to those who hold it sacred.

  7. Pingback: What Does Pope Francis Actually Say About Transgenderism? | The Catholic Transgender

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