MILWAUKEE — The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has a new policy instructing all of its parishes, organizations and institutions to only recognize a person's biological sex.
Some say the new guidance could be seen as a step back for inclusivity.
The policy, which went into effect earlier this year, applies to church employees, personnel, students, volunteers and contracted vendors of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
"My religious upbringing definitely stunted and halted my experience of my own gender and sexuality," said Alex Corona, a trans woman who is no stranger to the catholic faith. She spent 12 years in Catholic schools.
"I've been confirmed, and baptized and all of the sacraments," she said.
Alex finds the new "Policy on Questions Concerning Gender Theory" offensive.
"There was a lot of anger, there was a lot of trauma that came out, there was a lot of frustration. I cried when I read the letter," she said.
According to the Archdiocese, the policy is designed to be used as a guide for school and church leaders.
It describes how to respond to people who they describe as having "tension of concerns about their biological sex," and covers topics including the use of preferred pronouns, bathrooms and locker rooms, attire, athletics and extracurricular activities and medications such as "puberty blockers."
The policy says all persons should be recognized by their biological sex.
A statement from Fr. Javier Bustos, Vicar General and Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Milwaukee to TMJ4 News regarding the policy referred to sex as an "unchangeable gift" and "A calling from God." His statement reads:
"The Book of Genesis teaches us, “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God; male and female he created them.” This is a fundamental Judeo-Christian belief and, as such, this policy is a practical guide to help our church and school leaders address operational issues with respect for the dignity of each person, and consistent with the light of truth that our biological sex is an unchangeable gift and a calling from God."
"I think there are things in the policy that give off the vibe that we really aren't as understanding as it states, as it purports to be," said Fr. Chuck Schramm, a Milwaukee area priest who worries the policy could push individuals who identify as LGBTQ away from the church.
He points to medical and personality sciences surrounding issues of gender.
"The real truth is, there are people who know from a young age on that they are in the wrong body when it comes to gender and sex," he said.
Father Chuck and Alex say there is a need for inclusion when policies are being drafted.
"I think that the best thing to do when it comes to Trans inclusion is for cis people to shut up and to listen to us and to let us guide and dictate what needs to be done," said Alex.
Milwaukee isn't alone in adopting a policy on transgender persons. At least half-a-dozen other dioceses have released similar policies, including ones in Marquette, Michigan and St. Paul, Minnesota.
Read the Policy on Questions Concerning Gender Theory below: