From a reader…
Dear Fr. I’m hoping for some advice as to how to charitably and prudently deal with a gender dysphoric coworker without giving a pinch of incense to Jupiter. Specifically, it is likely that I will need to formally enter this person’s name into an official log (e.g. stationed Mr. X as…). What should I write if I don’t know with certainty whether he is actually a man or woman even if I’m reasonably sure he’s a man? And if I do find out with certainty, is it correct to say that I’m morally obligated to write Mr. even if he tells me to write Ms. and risk losing my livelihood over a discrimination claim? I am more than willing to do this, I’m just wondering where the line is. Thanks and God bless.
GUEST PRIEST RESPONSE: Fr. Tim Ferguson
Ah, our brave new world.
Which is, in so many ways, not new at all.
History is replete with situations wherein names and titles have not matched the biological sex of the title holder. The Pharaoh Hatshepsut is depicted with all the regalia, including the false beard, used by her male predecessors. Even today, Elizabeth II bears the titles of Duke of Lancaster and Lord of Mann.
The Church has always recognized the right of people to change their names. She has even endorsed the notion, and for centuries, when one entered into a religious order, one either chose or was given a new name. Not infrequently, the name one was given in religion did not coincide with one’s biological sex. Hence, our history is replete with stories of Sr. Urban, Sr. Thomas Aquinas, Sr. Bonaventure, and Br. Maria Joseph et c.
Here now we are in a situation where folks are changing their names (and tragically, their physical bodies), not out of devotion to the saints, but largely out of psychological anomalies, fostered and abetted by a compliant medical industry and a sick culture.
What should our response be?
Prayer, no doubt. Prayer for our world and our sickened, God-less society. Prayer for the victims of this societal abandonment of reason and the Lord of Reason.
In addition to prayer, common sense.
While not giving in to the depredations of society, utilizing a name that does not correspond with the biological sex of the person is not inappropriate. And applying a title that similarly does not correspond when one is forced by office to do so could not really be called into question. Pronouns can be studiously avoided, even if it leads to awkward sentences, “Ms. Bathstone has requested that the file intended for Ms. Bathstone, be given directly to Ms. Bathstone, who is currently attending to the shaving of Ms. Bathstone’s hirsute visage.” “Mr. Witherdon would like a new lumbar pad installed in the office chair, as the discomfort caused by the seventh month of pregnancy is wearing on Mr. Witherdon’s ability to sit for a lengthy period of time.”
It’s all a silly game, in one sense, but it’s specifically utilized by certain elements of society to “catch” us in order to label Christians as intolerant boobs.
So be it. We need to determine which hills are the ones we need to die on. I’m not convinced that changed names and pretend titles are that hill.
If anyone wants to know, my preferred pronouns are “His Imperial Majesty/My Sovereign Lord, the Emperor”.