"The biological and psychical manipulation of sexual difference, which biomedical technology allows us to perceive as completely available to free choice — which it is not! — thus risks dismantling the source of energy that nurtures the alliance between man and woman and which renders it creative and fruitful," he told the members of the academy.
Clearly, he implies that gender transition procedures make gender a choice. No, not at all! It is precisely because gender is not a choice that there exist gender transition procedures thus enabling people to live their gender identity in full agreement with their bodies.
In reaction to his speech, Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a group working for LGBT Catholics, published a statement: "By referring to transgender people’s desires to transition as ‘manipulation’ and a ‘free choice’ Pope Francis shows that he does not understand that for transgender people, a transition is a discovery and affirmation of who God created them to be.
"Gender is more than a biological reality. It also includes psychological, emotional, cultural, and spiritual dimensions. When some people seek surgery to confirm their gender identity, they are celebrating their God-given identities. A decision to transition is often made after many years of confusion and turmoil, as well as many forms of discernment with medical, psychological, and spiritual authorities."
DignityUSA executive director Marianne Duddy-Burke also urges the church to stop its persecution:
"We strongly urge Pope Francis to take time to meet with more transgender people and their families, and to listen to their stories of hope and struggle," Duddy-Burke wrote in a statement. "Our church must start from the needs of the people, not from some dogma that more and more is discredited by science and the experience of millions of people. And the church must immediately end its persecution of sexual minorities in direct contrast to the open fellowship and embrace love Jesus himself would have shown."