Pre-conference student panel calls transgenderism into question from Catholic perspective


Photo by: Daniel O’Loughlin

In anticipation of “The Transgender Moment” conference weekend beginning April 5, the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life hosted a pre-conference panel of students on Tuesday, April 2, at 8:30 p.m. in the Gentile Gallery.

Concetta Pilsner, who holds a master’s degree in English literature, opened the evening in prayer while a group of students settled in to attend. She introduced the Veritas Center, which was founded in 2013 by Anne Hendershott, who holds a doctorate from Kent State University, for the purpose of combating what Pope Benedict XVI called a dictatorship of relativism, “through research, writing and academic conferences.”

The panel featured three students who are junior fellows at the Veritas Center: junior Daniel McNichol, senior Allegra Thatcher and junior Bethany Muczynski.

McNichol spoke on transgenderism in light of Catholic philosophy, and he highlighted that there is a lack of philosophy held by transgender activists. He made a clear distinction between the body and soul while remaining true to their unity. Gender must be found in bodily structure, said McNichol, since the soul holds the powers of intellect, will and emotion but gender must be a concrete reality, hence in the body.

Muczynski gave her reflection on transgenderism in light of the Theology of the Body. She spoke about the dignity of the human person and the spousal meaning of the body, which is primarily the sexual union, in marriage, between man and woman. “Man is made for the communion of persons,” said Muczynski, who went on to explain why the sacredness of the body requires a teaching that is opposed to transgenderism.

Thatcher highlighted transgenderism in light of the family. She shared that the effects of transgenderism on the family have led to an acceptance of children’s ideas as dictators of truth rather than facts and science. While in the past metaphysical reality was uncredited, it has become the means by which transgender activists have determined their own gender identity beliefs.

The pre-conference panel presented its scholarly reflections with professional poise, and students who were in attendance enjoyed the informative evening. Lucy Hildebrand, freshman English major, said that the event “provided an in-depth understanding of transgenderism.” Prior to the event, Hildebrand had been studying the natural and philosophical sides of the issue, which “raised interesting questions.”

David Willey, sophomore humanities and Catholic culture major, also appreciated the panel and was grateful that “Franciscan University is the kind of place that promotes this kind of discussion.”

The Veritas Center will hold its second four-student fellow panel on Saturday, April 6, during the weekend conference on the transgender movement.