“We recognize that there are people who do not accept their biological sex. We are concerned about and committed to their pastoral care. Through listening to them we seek to understand their experience more deeply and want to accompany them with compassion, emphasizing that they are loved by God and valued in their inherent God-given dignity. There is a place of welcome for everyone in the Catholic Church,” the bishops wrote at the time.
Changes in the U.K.
Sunak’s recent comments come following a move this summer by England’s National Health Service (NHS) to limit the availability of drugs meant to facilitate gender “transitions” to minor patients, citing a lack of evidence as to their safety and efficacy.
This past June, the NHS announced it is limiting the use of puberty-blocking drugs for minors and will allow them only “as part of clinical research” following an evaluation of medical practices for purported “gender transitions.” The interim policy, announced June 9, states that there is not enough evidence to support the safety or clinical effectiveness of “puberty-suppressing hormone” as a routinely available treatment and that they should only be accessed as “part of research.”
Advocates of “gender-affirming care” worldwide have presented puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and purported sex-change operations as treatments that help those who identify as transgender.
However, experts have raised concerns about the evidence for these claims, pointing out that puberty blockers’ interference with hormonal development could disrupt mental growth and brain development in areas such as critical thinking, sophisticated self-reflection, social skills, and problem-solving skills. There are also concerns about how the drugs affect bone growth and resilience.
More recently in the U.K., the NHS announced this week that transgender people will be given their own rooms and areas in hospitals rather than being placed in wards according to the gender they identify with under 2021 NHS guidance. Health Secretary Steve Barclay called the change part of “a commonsense approach to sex and equality issues in the NHS.”