An Iowa-based Diocese implemented a new policy on Monday that has banned congregants from using preferred pronouns and requires them to use bathrooms corresponding to their biological sex.
"Any parochial, organizational, or institutional documentation which requires the designation of a person's sex is to reflect that person's biological sex," the diocese said in a statement. "No person may designate a 'preferred pronoun' in speech or in writing when related to ministry activities of any kind, nor are parishes, organizations, or institutions to permit such a designation. To permit the designation of a preferred pronoun, while intended as an act of charity, instead promotes the dissociation of biological sex and 'gender' and thereby confuses or denies personal integrity."
As reported by Faithwire, parishioners "must use the bathroom or locker room that matches their biological sex," the diocese leadership. "Diocesan parishes, organizations, and institutions are permitted to have individual-use bathrooms that are available for all members of the respective community."
"Respect for creation includes respect for one's biological sex," they added. "The human person is a body-soul union, and the body — as created male or female — is an essential aspect of the human person. The mystery of human sexuality as a key component of personal identity is received as a gift created by God that we are not authorized to seek to change."
According to The New York Post, the new policy affects 130,000 members in 80 parishes and 17 schools under the leadership of Bishop William Joensen.
The diocese has also forbidden the use of drugs for transgender treatments.
"Students and those entrusted to the care of the church are not permitted to take 'puberty blockers,' even if self-administered, on parish or school property, with the purpose of a potential or actual 'gender reassignment,'" stated the diocese, who called the treatments "mutilation" and "morally prohibited."
The diocese's decision was met with both praise and criticism.
"This is not what Jesus would do," Iowa state Sen. Claire Celsi (D) told the Des Moines Register.
"To actually come out, and say, 'We're going to stamp this out, we're going to pretend like it doesn't exist,' and issue this kind of edict is, I think, reprehensible," she added.
LGBTQ group One Iowa executive director Courtney Reyes denounced the church, saying, "You cannot pretend to be compassionate while misgendering people and denying them access to any and all spaces under your control."
Meanwhile, others praised the policy, with one person writing, "finally, a church that is acting like a church.”
Despite the policy, the diocese insisted that they would continue to help those struggling with gender dysphoria.
Those "who express a tension between their biological sex and their 'gender'" should be "guided to appropriate ministers and counselors who will assist the person in a manner that is in accord with the directives and teachings of the church," the statement reads.
"The diagnosis of gender dysphoria does not merit the alteration of one's body through drug-induced hormone therapies or surgery," the statement continued. "Rather, one is entitled to receive unconditional love and support, as well as psychological and pastoral care."
Overall, the church "fervently hopes that all persons experiencing gender dysphoria know … they are unconditionally loved by Jesus Christ and by the Church, and that they are vital members of the Body of Christ who have a home in the family of God."
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.