Vatican says birth sex cannot be changed

BY Advocate.com Editors

January 22 2003 1:00 AM ET

For more than two years, the Vatican has been secretly working to enact a strict policy on transgendered people that essentially dismisses any possibility that sex can be changed, the Catholic News Service reports. Sex-reassignment surgery "is so superficial and external that it does not change the personality," said an unnamed Vatican source who had read the policy. "If the person was male, he remains male. If she was female, she remains female."

The Catholic Church's position is expressed in a confidential document obtained by CNS that instructs church officials never to alter the sex recorded in baptismal or other records. It also forbids those who have undergone sex-reassignment procedures from marriage and from ordination to the priesthood or entry into other religious orders.

The document was completed more than two years ago, according to the CNS, and distributed sub secretum, or under secrecy, to Vatican representatives throughout the world. Those papal representatives were then to provide guidance on a case-by-case basis to bishops. In 2002, having determined that the secretly expressed policy was not reaching parishes, the Vatican provided it as well to the presidents of bishops' conferences.

Tags: World

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