The Heritage Foundation’s Dr. Ryan Anderson delivered a lecture at Christendom College on Monday, November 19, speaking on his new book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Movement. Anderson riveted his audience throughout the talk as he navigated the difficult subject matter and offered practical advice on how to respond to the transgender moment through the Catholic lens.
“Imagine feeling so alienated from your own body that you would contemplate taking the opposite sex’s sex hormones — these people are suffering, and they are being fed bad advice, whether it be from mental health professionals, medical professionals, or from guidance counselors,” says Anderson. “The critique here tonight is at these ideologues, not at those individuals who are suffering in this way. If anything, we should have abundant compassion and charity and patience with people who feel this form of alienation. But we also need to insist on telling the truth when it comes to those who are promoting a faulty anthropology.”
Anderson, a frequent guest on television and a nationally-regarded expert on the topic of religious liberty, began his talk by pointing to Christendom as instrumental in the creation of his book, When Harry Became Sally. Christendom alumni and students working in his office at the Heritage Foundation helped him research it, edit it, and prepare drafts for it, and have organized the distribution and speaking projects attached to it ever since.
Anderson guided Christendom students through the chief arguments in his book, first showing them what kindergarten-age students are being taught about gender identity today. In many schools, children are now shown that gender is fluid and are encouraged to choose their gender whenever they want — even without telling their parents, especially if they are not supportive.
“It’s no longer just adults who are protagonists in our transgender moment — increasingly it’s children,” says Anderson. “Today, there are over 40 pediatric gender clinics where parents are told that puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones are the only way to prevent their child from committing suicide. Never mind that the best studies on gender dysphoria show that somewhere between 80 and 85% of adolescents with a gender identity conflict will naturally grow out of it if their development is not interfered with. Never mind that 41% of people who identify as transgender attempt suicide at some point in their lives, and never mind that people who have undergone sex reassignment surgery are 19 times more likely to die by suicide. Those statistics are tragic, and they should really stop us in our tracks before we rush to embrace the latest ideology on sex, gender, or gender identity.”
Anderson provided practical advice to Christendom students on how to respond to the transgender moment to close his talk.
“What we need to develop as a culture is a healthy understanding of the differences, and the differences that make a difference, between men and women, while also embracing a capacious enough understanding of sex and gender so that we don’t exasperate gender dysphoria, so that we don’t have people feeling even more alienated from their bodies because of our unrealistic expectations,” concluded Anderson.
Watch the video below to see Anderson’s talk in full.