"Informed by faith and reason, the Church teaches that our differences as male and female are part of God's good design in creation, that our bodies – including our sexual identity – are gifts from God, and that we should accept and care for our bodies as they were created," says Richard Budd, Director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Lansing and co-author of the new guidelines.
"Gender dysphoria is a real psychological condition which causes real human suffering that has to be met with genuine compassion, rooted in truth and love, and accompanied by the highest standards of pastoral care," Budd also says.
"Gender dysphoria" is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as "clinically significant distress or impairment related to a strong desire to be of another gender, which may include desire to change primary and/or secondary sex characteristics." This desire to change sex and its accompanying distress may be so intense it can lead to depression and anxiety and have a harmful impact on daily life.
The diocesan policy means that students and parents will be addressed with pronouns in accord with their biological sex; students will participate in sports and use bathrooms and locker rooms in accord with their biological sex; and Catholic schools will not cooperate in the administration of puberty-blocking or cross-sex hormones.
The diocese encourages counseling for those distressed or confused by their sexual identity, and it expects that its counselors "hold a correct Christian anthropology of the human person and understand and adhere to Catholic teaching."
According to Budd, "the Church teaches that the human person is a body-soul union, and the body - created male or female - is a constitutive and integral aspect of the human person and, as such, everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his or her God-given biological sex and the sexuality that corresponds with that gift – only in this way lies a path towards an integral, sustainable and happy life."