CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 October 2018

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Gender should not be reassigned bishop says

HONG KONG (SE): Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing, auxiliary Bishop of Hong Kong, expressed concern that, “Any legislation recognising sex reassignment will result in reverse discrimination,” as he spoke to a representatives from parishes and schools, on issues faced by transgender people in religious, medical and educational areas of life. 
 
The gathering, on 16 December 2017 at Caritas Hall, Caine Road, was organised by the diocesan task force set up last year to respond to the Hong Kong SAR government’s public consultation on gender recognition held from June to December 2017. 
 
Bishop Ha, the coordinator of the task force, said, “Gender should not be separate from one’s biological sex and should not be reassigned.” 
 
He feels that the people need to view the issue from a moral and theological point of view, which is also a good way to strengthen their faith. He added that the diocese plans to set up a concern group in the first half of the year to address related issues in the long term.
 
Explaining the biblical meaning of marriage, Father Dominic Lui Chi-man, supervisor of the Bioethics Resources Centre of the Holy Spirit Seminary College, stressed that only a marriage between a man and a woman fulfills its true meaning as a sign of unity, intimacy and procreation.
 
Father Lui further explained that, while the Church is aware of the various secular studies done on the issue, it does not regard sex reassignment surgery as a solution for transgender people as it will disturb the normal functioning of the body, which is immoral.
 
Another speaker, Peter Tsoi Ting-Kwok, a psychiatrist, explained that transgender people do not accept the gender of their birth but see themselves as being of different sex. 
 
This is known as gender dysphoria and the medical field has not determined the cause. However, he believes it is related to biological, mental or social problems. 
 
Tsoi said transgender people actively look for ways to help them shift from one sex to another, such as sex reassignment surgery. 
 
Tsoi said the Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, offers a set of services from assessment to sex reassignment surgery, for people with gender dysphoria.
 
He expressed reservations over the timing of the gender recognition legislation, as the majority of Hong Kong people are still unclear about related issues and many groups hold opposing views. 
 
May Yeung Mei-hei, a retired secondary school principal, said students who show signs of not accepting their gender should be identified as early as possible and teachers need to journey with students who suffer from gender dysphoria. 
 
According to her, children reach an awareness of their gender between the ages of four and nine, and their gender identity is affirmed through teachers and peer groups during their teenage years.
 
Yeung said that what transgender people need most is family acceptance, medical support and legal recognition.
 
During the sharing session, some participants pointed out that the Church should let the general public know about its stand and its support services for transgender people.

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