A coalition of faith leaders from diverse backgrounds have come together to warn parents not to push gender transition on children, asserting that "gender ideology" is a "false idea" that's harmful to society because it is "sowing confusion and self-doubt."
As gender clinics across the country are assisting children struggling with gender dysphoria and providing them with hormone suppression and hormone therapy, 20 Christian leaders have signed onto an open letter that was published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can 'change' their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults," the leaders wrote in the letter, titled "Created Male and Female."
"Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of 'first, do no harm.'"
The letter comes as leading medical institutions have voiced their support for gender transition treatments as a remedy for the inner struggle that individuals have when faced with gender dysphoria.
The letter was signed by leaders from multiple Christian denominations and also a Muslim leader.
Among the signatories are Andrew Walker, director of policy studies at the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; the Rev. Dr. Foley Beach, primate of the Anglican Church of North American; the Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, bishop of Scranton and the chair of USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; the Rev. Nathanael Symeonides, ecumenical officer of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Other signatories include: the Rev. Gregory P. Seltz, executive director of The Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty; the Rev. Tony Suarez, executive vice president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Charles J. Chaput, archbishop of Philadelphia.
Muslim leader Imam Faizal Khan, founder of the Islamic Society of the Washington Area, also signed the letter.
"A person's discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth," the letter reads. Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy and honesty. As religious leaders, we express our commitment to urge the members of our communities to also respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love."
The letter continued by arguing that "the state" has a "compelling interest" to maintain "policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it."
"Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt," the leaders said.
"The movement today to enforce the false idea — that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa — is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason — that is, to agree with something that is not true — or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation."
The letter concluded by calling for policies that "uphold the truth of a person's sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all."
"We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity."
On Twitter, Walker voiced his appreciation for the opportunity to sign onto the letter.
"I'm thankful to have joined other voices from across the religious spectrum united around the truths of biological sex, gender, and human dignity," he wrote.
Liberals did not take too kindly to the letter.
Patheos.com's "Progressive Secular Humanist" labeled the letter "deplorable" and "Cruel bigotry," calling those who signed the letter "ignorant."
New Ways Ministry, a pro-LGBT Catholic organization, issued a rebuttal to the letter.
"Although the statement denies the reality of the transgender experience, it suggests that religious groups should respond to people who are gender minorities 'with patience and love,'" the statement reads. "The statement perpetuates the double falsehood that gender is a choice and that children are being encouraged to think of gender as a choice."
The New Ways Ministry statement also argued that the statement is "dangerous."
The organization claims that the letter "distributes false information which can lead to attitudes, policies, and practices which will do physical and emotional harm to transgender people, a community already with a high risk of becoming victims of hate crimes."
The letter comes months after a coalition of Protestants, mostly evangelicals, released the Nashville Statement. The statement articulates God's design for human identity as male and female in an "increasingly post-Christian culture" that "has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being."
"By and large the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God's design for human life," the Nashville Statement's preamble states. "We did not make ourselves. We are not our own. Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God. It is not only foolish, but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be."