Do No Harm

The Catholic Bishops on Gender Dysphoria

On March 20, 2023, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)—the generator of unified pastoral guidance for practicing Catholics in the United States—issued a statement on healthcare delivered by Catholic physicians and institutions. This fourteen-page document, titled the Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body (available at usccb.org/resources/Doctrinal%20Note%202023-03-20.pdf, and from which all quotations in this essay are taken), details the ethical and theological framework that forms the church’s stance on medical alterations of the human body in the pursuit of theoretical benefits.

As noted in the guidance, “modern technology  . . . produces possibilities not only for helpful interventions, but also for interventions that are injurious to the true flourishing of the human person.” Recognizing that this topic sits at the cornerstone of modern medicine’s approach to the treatment of gender dysphoria and alterations to the sexual phenotype, the USCCB offers a framework that Catholic practitioners can use to serve this population in accordance with broader church teachings.

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Thomas B. Pacheco , MD, is a resident physician at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., specializing in psychiatry. He is a member of St. Peter’s Parish of Capitol Hill.

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