Catholic LGBTQ+ Advocates Strongly Condemn Latest USCCB Transgender Statement

Catholic LGBTQ+ advocates have used strong language to criticize a new US Catholic Bishops’ Conference (USCCB) document that aims to halt gender-affirming care in Catholic health facilities.

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, issued a statement calling the USCCB document “tragic” for preventing transgender and non-binary people from receiving adequate health care. Noting that one in six hospital beds in the United States is controlled by the Church, Duddy-Burke continued:

“It seems clear that the aim of this policy is to impose long-established and outdated Catholic doctrine on people with critical medical needs, which violates the goals our bishops have set for Catholic healthcare. We are calling for a very different approach that begins with listening to and trusting the experiences of transgender and non-binary people, the testimonies of their families and the expertise of healthcare professionals who have overseen the care of these individuals. We believe that such an approach will help ensure that the exceptional Catholic health care providers in our country are better able to support all those to whom they are called.”

Jamie Manson, president of Catholics for Choice, described the document as “outrageously transphobic” in a statement that was reported. The Washington Post. Manson added:

“‘The USCCB’s so-called ‘moral criteria,’ which directs Catholic hospitals to refuse to provide gender-affirming healthcare to transgender patients, is anything but moral – it is an attack on basic human rights, an affront to Catholic social values Justice and with 1 in 6 US hospital beds housed in Catholic hospitals, a very real threat to the life, health and wellbeing of transgender, non-binary and gender mismatched patients.’”

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Fr. Charlie Bouchard, OP, senior director of theology and sponsorships for the Catholic Health Association, said the USCCB document “will not change much” in terms of transgender healthcare—Catholic hospitals will continue to respect and support trans patients, but each other refuse to provide them sex transition care. The Independent reported:

“[Bouchard] said Catholic hospitals also train staff to be respectful of transgender patients: “When a patient checks in, we ask staff to be respectful when asking questions. We want to validate transgender people as individuals and provide them with spiritual care and psychological counseling.’

“Bouchard said Catholic hospitals will ‘base healthcare on science and continue to follow science when it comes to transgender people.’

“‘But we don’t cover ideology,’ he said. “We treat patients who are really suffering. There are things out there regarding gender fluidity that we don’t agree with. But as Catholic hospitals we are subject to the same standard of care as other hospitals.”

Christine Zuba, a trans-Catholic woman, contrasted the bishops’ approach with her experience of church life, noting that the USCCB document does not even mention transgender people. Zuba told that Associated Press:

“’In my community, I feel unconditionally accepted for who I am. But that is missing in our hierarchy. There is no willingness to engage with us and understand our lives. . .All we ask is that you listen to us as a group and as individuals. Open your heart and try to understand.’”

Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the New Ways Ministry, supplemented an earlier statement, telling the partner press:

“’These decisions are made at a much higher level, without knowing the people and individual cases involved. When transgender people are not allowed or restricted to transition in ways they see fit, it can lead to depression, anxiety, or even self-harm, including suicide.’”

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To read more reactions to the document from transgender Catholics, theologians and ministers, click here. You can find all Bindings 2.0 previous coverage of the USCCB document and comments below.

Robert Shine (him/her), New Ways Ministry, March 30, 2023

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