In a CNA article by Elise Harris, Associate Professor of Ethics at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross Father Robert Gahl gets at a key distinction that brings the transgender issue right to the heart of our cultural and even existential differences (emphasis added):
Instead, he voiced his belief that most of the pushing is being done by people with “a good intention” who are truly convinced it is for the betterment of humanity. “I see it as being rooted in a view of the human being … that comes out of post-modern philosophy,” he said.
This notion, the priest said, is what Benedict XVI described as “a nihilistic understanding of freedom, such that we are each our own creator.” In this view, God is replaced and we can each create ourselves in the image of whatever we would like to be, rather than receiving our nature from another as a given.
“What’s really horrible about this is it means we have no intrinsic dignity. No one has intrinsic dignity, no one should be respected for who they are, but they should be respected for who they think they are,” Fr. Gahl said.
That’s a key distinction. Of course, there are surgeries and other things people can do, but reality is reality. You are who you are, and the world will interact with you accordingly. Not only will people naturally respond to others based on their intrinsic qualities, but the physical world is what it is. You can believe you’re tall, but if you’re short, there are things you just won’t be able to reach that a tall person could.
Attempting to force the world to accept a reality that isn’t real, but rather is asserted, quickly becomes the opposite of tolerance. We can mandate that everything that a tall person can reach must be accessible by a short person, but not only will tall people find the world more difficult (and dangerous), but we’ll all be poorer for not taking advantage of some of our members’ height.