Hi, my name is Father Mike Schmitz and this is Ascension Presents. So, I was, over Memorial Day weekend hanging out with my family, and one of my nephews, he, he pretended he was a dog. And you know how you have to deal with a little kid when like, “I’m a puppy!” Okay. you have the ball and you throw the ball and they come back with it and you’re playing around at one point it was time for supper and so I’m like, “ok buddy, time to get up, wash your hands get ready for supper. He is like, “No, no, no” “I’m a puppy” I’m the fun uncle that’s what priests are- the fun uncle so I’m like, I’m not gonna correct this kid I just kinda directed him to his parents and his parents are like “Listen, You are a little boy. You are not a dog. Wash your hands. Sit at the table.” and I thought, “Alright. That’s good that’s good parenting right there.” where, you know here is the kid, he maybe really thinks he is a dog but the reality is you’re not a dog.” I was thinking about this and thinking about that love that my nephew’s parents have for him when it comes to this big thing on the news, of course, which is Bruce Jenner or anyone else who experiences the sense of being transgender the idea is that this I have a Bruce Jenner’s case I have a man’s body but, I’m not really a man I have always felt like a woman. You know, people say “Are you very judgmental?” Here’s what I’m saying: That I have no judgment on this thing … I just have an assessment. I’m not saying that Bruce Jenner is evil … I just think that that perception of him saying, “I’m actually a woman.” I just think that assessment or that perception is off. I think it is inaccurate. Here’s what I mean. Let’s just even ask the question those of you who are men who are watching this, those of you who are woman who are watching this, women, what does it feel like to be a woman? Guys, what does it feel like to be a man? Flip it around, say men, do you have any idea what it feels like to be a woman? And women, do you have any idea what it feels like to be a man? No. The reality is of course, we don’t we have no idea what it feels like to be a member of the opposite sex. All we have— all we have—this is crazy all we have is gender stereotypes. Here’s what I mean: There are stories about, you know here is the only young boy and his parents say, “well, you know, we are treating him like a girl he really is a girl, because he identifies as a girl. Why? Well, you know ever since he was little we didn’t have to tell him. He liked dolls more than he likes trucks, he liked um uh dresses more than he liked jeans, he liked pink more than he liked blue. And you think of that wait a second that’s how you know that your little boy is actually a girl because he just happens to like things that are traditionally associated with girls? it’s just something that’s arbitrary. Skirts that … women wear skirts is arbitrary, that women play with dolls or over trucks is arbitrary. In fact, I think about this: one of my older sisters growing up, she was what you call back in the day, since I’m an old man, what they call back in the day they called her a tomboy Why? because she loved hunting… she loved fishing she loved she was incredible at sports the field she’s in medicine right now she is a doctor her field that she is in right now is a field traditionally associated dominated by men her husband is a stay-at-home dad. Now she is hard charging, she does a lot she takes … she is really smart, she takes a bull by the horns all these kinds of things things that are “masculine” traits now wait- is she a man? no why? because she is a woman she is the mom of her kids my brother-in-law he is patient he is kind he is gentle with his kids he is a stay-at-home dad traditionally, things associated with women how do we know he is not a woman? because he looks at his body. His body reveals that he is actually actually a man. Here’s the crazy thing is if my perception doesn’t match up to reality it’s not reality that has to change it’s my perception of reality that has to change we all know this when it comes to I’m sure some of you have this experience of people in your life who suffer from something like another kind of body dysmorphia something like anorexia. There is a young woman that I remember working with, years ago. It’s painful. She was in the hospital because she was so thin. She was 98 pounds, but she still perceived herself as being fat, saying, “No, I still feel fat. I still feel fat.” Like, wait a second … but your perception and reality is off. So it’s not reality that has to change it’s your perception of reality that has to change. That’s an act of love. In fact, there is this other version of body dysmorphia, this kind of misperception of one’s body, it’s called BIID. It stands for body integrity identity disorder; and what BIID is it’s when someone looks at something like their hand and says this isn’t my hand this is, it feels foreign to me, or these legs feel foreign to me. In fact, there was a documentary I watched a number of years ago about a woman who she perceived herself to be a paraplegic; she perceived herself that her legs didn’t work, and so that’s how she lived her life. She got around in a wheelchair, she transferred herself from her bed to a wheelchair with like a pulley system kind of a thing; but the reality is her legs do work. Her perception was off. And so what happens is this when someone is suffering from this kind of body dysmorphia, BIID, comes in and says, “Doctor, this is not my hand, not my real hand. Can you amputate it?” Doctors around the world are instructed … no. That’s actually their hands. Don’t amputate a healthy limb. Their perception is wrong, not the reality. But when it comes to sex we all lose our brains and we all lose our minds and a man goes in or a woman goes in and says, “Doctor, these external genitalia are not mine. They’re not actually a part of me. I perceive that they shouldn’t be here.” and apparently we are ok with doctors saying, “OK, well then we will have sex reassignment surgery” or gender reassignment surgery. And yet that seems to be kind of covering over the real problem … just like amputating a healthy limb would be covering over the real problem. In fact that’s the conclusion that a guy named Doctor Paul McCue came to. He was the chief psychiatrist of John’s Hopkins Hospital … so this isn’t like a crack pot doctor. This is the chief psychiatrist ex-chief psychiatrist of John’s Hopkins. He dealt with a lot of these cases of people identified as transgender. They saw themselves as a member of the opposite sex and with sex reassignment surgery he said, yeah, some of these patients experience satisfaction of that reassignment, but they were still disturbed; they were still hurting. And he came to this conclusion, he said we had to stop doing sex reassignment surgery, because he says, we found that um he found that producing satisfied but a still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs; because I could change these external factors but the reality is at the heart of everything I am still a man or I am still a woman. And when it comes down to it that’s the message of love. This is not a message of judging, this is not a message of criticizing, this is not even a message of trying to blame anyone or make anyone into a monster. No, absolutely not! These are people who are hurting. Anyone, the people in my life who have been hurting from anorexia or any other kind of body dysmorphia, or even this kind of sense of identifying with members of the opposite gender all of that comes down to someone who is hurting. So what are we called to do as Catholics…. Well we don’t have to judge because no one is calling us to judge and no one wants us to judge. We don’t need to judge. What we’re called to do is called to walk with people. That’s one of the best things we do as Catholics is we walk with people. We listen to them, we hear what they are really saying and then we are able to just not have to yell at anyone and not have to criticize anyone, but just be able to say, “Let me walk with you.” I don’t have to give you what you want in order to love you, but I am called to walk with you in order to love you. That’s why it is easy for me to say this on a video, to say that, yeah, we’re you ever called to do this, but what really happens is this: When Catholics when those that belong to Jesus are willing to get in the messiness of someone’s, you know, someone’s brokenness, someone’s wound, it doesn’t matter what it is, listen to them, to love them and walk with them, that’s what we are really called to do. And when it comes to Bruce Jenner or when it comes to anyone else, it comes to any of the people in your life and in my life, the best thing we can do is not simply share the truth with them, but it’s also to walk with them. So who is God calling you to walk with, today? It doesn’t have to be with regard to this kind of stuff. It can be with regard to anything. Who is the broken person in your life? Broken doesn’t mean wrecked, doesn’t mean ruined, doesn’t mean bad. It just means wounded. Who is the wounded person in your life that God’s calling you to listen to, to love, and to walk with today? From all of us here at Ascension Presents, my name is Father Mike. God bless.