Charitable gender conversations needed

charitable gender conversations

Abigail Favale, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, has called for “charitable, substantive conversations” on gender, warning that the issue is “affecting real people.”

Speaking at The Catholic University of America, Favale said that the Catholic Church was “carrying the torch on the dignity of the body” in a way that nobody else was.

She suggested that the church’s teaching on the sacramentality of the human body could provide a useful foundation for discussion on gender.

Favale, author of “The Genesis of Gender: A Christian Theory,” stressed the importance of recognising that gender is “affecting real people” and that it requires a deeper understanding than just biology.

Professor Favale urged her listeners to balance compassion for those grappling with gender issues with fidelity to church teaching.

She compared the process to inviting someone into one’s home while guarding the identity of the household.

“You offer hospitality, you earnestly listen to what is on their mind,” she said, “but this doesn’t mean you compromise the identity of your home or ask them to sign a statement they believe everything you believe.”

Favale approaches questions about gender “from a deeply Catholic perspective but one that does not lose sight of the humanity and very real suffering of people who experience gender discordance,” she said.

Gender refers to the whole person

“In a Catholic understanding, we can distinguish between sex and gender, but not separate them. Sex is to female as gender is to woman,” Favale said.

“Gender is a category that refers to the whole person, the unity of body and soul that includes sex. It’s not strictly reducible just to biology.”

Favale stressed the need for “accompaniment” for those struggling with gender issues, suggesting that this required “seeking to understand the person and really listen to their experience and what they’re going through.”

The professor was critical of the narrative surrounding gender transitioning surgery, suggesting that it implied “my body doesn’t reveal who I am and that causes me stress.”

She argued that “the body reveals the person,” but that the error came from “not believing the body is already revealing the person and that the body is a gift.”

Favale’s remarks were delivered as part of a speaker series launched by Peter Kilpatrick, Catholic University’s president. The professor gave opening remarks to an audience of 350 people before answering questions posed by Kilpatrick and audience members both present in the hall and participating via livestream.


The Dialog

Detroit Catholic


Additional reading

News category: Great reads, World.

Tags: , , ,