Gender ideology

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Elderly Polish wingnuts that we hope have no gender rallying against gender. Notice how the color pink is often used as a scare tactic to represent LGBT by homophobes and transphobes in Eastern Europe.
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Devil's in the details

The term "gender ideology" is a snarl word and straw man argument used by the anti-gender movement, that originated in "anti-feminist and anti-trans discourses among right-wing Christians, with the Catholic Church acting as a major nucleating agent."[1][2][3][4] It has since been "adopted by far-right organisations and politicians in numerous American, European and African states".[1] From around 2016, the term is also increasingly being adopted by TERFs.[1] Similar terms include "gender identity ideology"[5] and "radical gender ideology" where "radical" is simply used to make "gender" sound even more ominous, or "transgender ideology", in order to vilify transgender people (who are already amongst the most oppressed populations on Earth).

The expression refers especially to being transgender and gender identity/expression, but may also refer to anything LGBT-related more broadly. It is frequently used as a catch-all term for many sexuality-related topics and moral panics, including, but not limited to:

Italy, where Catholicism thrives, has seen the rise of many Catholic-inspired anti-LGBT associations. Among these:

  • Generazione Famiglia (which is the Italian version of La Manif Pour Tous),
  • Provita,
  • Sentinelle in Piedi (Standing sentinels),
  • Giuristi per la Vita (Pro-life Jurists),

and many others. These associations often perpetuate moral panics about and misinformation on being transgender, same-sex marriage/civil unions, homosexual indoctrination, same-sex parenting and even surrogacy (which has not even been discussed in the parliament, but is used as a slippery slope argument against adoptions — even stepchild adoptions).

In the Italian[11], Polish[12], German[13] and Slovak[14] versions of the expression, "gender" is kept in its English form, since it sounds scarier and more mysterious than their native counterparts.[citation NOT needed]

Pope Francis' statements[edit]

Transgender people and nuclear weapons[edit]

Pope Francis compared the arguments against nuclear weapons to those against gender identity and transgender people.

Let’s think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings. Let's think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation. With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator. The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate. God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth. The design of the Creator is written in nature.
Pope Francis[15]

Beyond the inherent logical fallacies, this is a clear false analogy. Genetic modification and transgender people both do not "consider man […] an accident" or attempt to eliminate humans — instead, they both try to make humans better. Conversely, it is very hard to argue that nuclear weapons, and war in general, are aimed at anything but human destruction. (Excluding theories about nuclear deterrence and nuclear peace, both of which were both theorized long after the first nukes rolled off the assembly line.)

The family - male and female[edit]

Modern contemporary culture has opened new spaces, new forms of freedom and new depths in order to enrich the understanding of this difference. But it has also introduced many doubts and much skepticism. For example, I ask myself, if the so-called gender theory is not, at the same time, an expression of frustration and resignation, which seeks to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it. Yes, we risk taking a step backwards. The removal of difference in fact creates a problem, not a solution. In order to resolve the problems in their relationships, men and women need to speak to one another more, listen to each other more, get to know one another better, love one another more. […] I would urge intellectuals not to leave this theme aside, as if it had to become secondary in order to foster a more free and just society.
Pope Francis[16]

Amoris Laetitia[edit]

Amoris laetitia (The Joy of Love) is the apostolic exhortation that Pope Francis wrote after the two years of synod on the family.

Yet another challenge is posed by the various forms of an ideology of gender that “denies the difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman and envisages a society without sexual differences, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family. This ideology leads to educational programmes and legislative enactments that promote a personal identity and emotional intimacy radically separated from the biological difference between male and female. Consequently, human identity becomes the choice of the individual, one which can also change over time”[17]. It is a source of concern that some ideologies of this sort, which seek to respond to what are at times understandable aspirations, manage to assert themselves as absolute and unquestionable, even dictating how children should be raised. It needs to be emphasized that “biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated”. On the other hand, “the technological revolution in the field of human procreation has introduced the ability to manipulate the reproductive act, making it independent of the sexual relationship between a man and a woman. In this way, human life and parenthood have become modular and separable realities, subject mainly to the wishes of individuals or couples”. It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality. Let us not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator. We are creatures, and not omnipotent. Creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift. At the same time, we are called to protect our humanity, and this means, in the first place, accepting it and respecting it as it was created.
Pope Francis[18]

Political parties and politicians[edit]

In March 2016, a political party called "Il Popolo della Famiglia" (The People of Family) was founded by Mario Adinolfi, one of the most well-known anti-LGBT activists in Italy. The party's motto is "No gender in schools".[19]

The Brazilian right loves this subject. In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro promised to send to the Congress a bill that "prohibits the gender ideology" in the schools.[20]

Adoption by TERFs[edit]

Since the late 2010s the term "gender ideology" is increasingly and now widely used by trans-exclusionary radical feminists. Pearce et al. notes:

The language of ‘gender ideology’ originates in anti-feminist and anti-trans discourses among right-wing Christians, with the Catholic Church acting as a major nucleating agent (...). In the last decade the concept has been increasingly adopted by far-right organisations and politicians in numerous American, European and African states. They position gender egalitarianism, sexual liberation and LGBTQ+ rights as an attack on traditional values by ‘global elites’, as represented by multinational corporations and international bodies such as the United Nations (...) Mallory Moore (2019) traces the first appearance of ‘gender ideology’ in a ‘gender critical’ context: a comment responding to a 2016 blog post on trans-exclusionary feminist website 4thWaveNow, which shared material from conservative advocacy group the American College of Pediatricians (not to be confused with professional body the American Academy of Pediatrics). From this time the concept saw increasing circulation in trans-exclusionary feminist discourse, especially following its use by ‘gender critical’ activist Stephanie Davies-Arai (who has been interviewed and profiled on 4thWaveNow), at a London conference attended by anti-trans campaigners (Singleton, 2016).
—Pearce et al.[1]

Alleged promoters[edit]

According to Christina Hoff Sommers and fundamentalists, those who promote the gender ideology are:

In other words, almost anybody who isn't a conservative religious fundamentalist.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Pearce, Ruth; Erikainen, Sonja; Vincent, Ben (2020). "TERF wars: An introduction". The Sociological Review. doi:10.1177/0038026120934713.
  2. Amoris Laetitia § 56
  5. Sanchez, Raquel Rosario. If ‘white feminism’ is a thing, gender identity ideology epitomizes it. Feminist Current, July 26, 2017.
  17. Relatio Finalis, 2015
  18. Amoris Laetitia § 56
  20. Após STF barrar lei municipal, Bolsonaro promete enviar projeto contra 'ideologia de gênero'
  21. Dale O'Leary, Maschi o femmine? La guerra del genere, Rubbettino, 2006, page 11