While this blog is coming from a distinctly Catholic perspective, I thought I’d share a recent discovery from the Orthodox corner. Reverend Lazar Puhalo is a retired hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America and has some strong views on transgender issues within the Orthodox perspective. The Rev. Puhalo would certainly consider me a heretic for my Romanism (even if my inclinations are often Byzantine), but I join Pope John Paul II in believing that the body of Christ has two lungs: the east and the west. Let’s hear what one voice from our sister apostolic faith has to say on the issue.
Lazar Puhalo’s initial video:
His response to critics:
According to Lazar, transgenderism is clearly an intersex condition in which the brain (one organ) is at odds with the genitals (another organ). It’s a straightforward medical condition with very little theological import. Where theology does come in is in reference to the Church Fathers. Some of the Church Fathers bear witness to the notion that the soul doesn’t have a gender, which goes back to Matthew 22:30. The body, however, does. Part of the body’s gender/sex is it’s brain sex. A transgender woman isn’t a female soul trapped in a male body, but a human soul with a mixed male-female body. Since consciousness happens in the brain, not the genitals, a person with a female brain is effectively female.
What’s most important about Lazar’s analysis is recognizing that all the theologically-charged ideology in the world doesn’t cover up the brute facts of gender dysphoria, or sexual complexity in general. This is an important point that needs to be taken to heart by all prelates and theologians, regardless of their theological tradition. Speculative metaphysics about gender is meaningless in the face of the spiritual holocaust the transgender community faces.
EDIT: I recognize that Puhalo is a controversial figure within Orthodoxy, but that doesn’t negate what I’ve said above: that regardless of what one thinks is the requirement for genuine Christian faith, his basic assertion that transsexuality is a clinical condition that requires compassion regardless of cultural ideology is valid.