Trans Formations in the Worldwide War on “Gender” Ideology

This paper will examine the long and ongoing development of what has become a worldwide war by conservative religious actors on the use of the English word “gender” and on the embodiment in law of rights claims it is thought to encapsulize, including feminist, LGBT, and reproductive rights claims.  It will highlight the central but submerged role concerns about recognition through local sexual democracy of transgender identity and resulting apocalyptic fears about the future security of human nature have always played for the two popes who have most directly shaped the contours of this war, Benedict XVI and Francis, focusing on the central role the particular constitutional culture of each man’s country of origin played in shaping his concerns and commitments.  Both Germany and Argentina, at the time precisely before each man’s departure for Rome, were staking out a place in the vanguard of trans rights. Germany’s 1978 Constitutional Court decision protecting trans identity as free development of the personality first moved Ratzinger in the early 1980s to formulate opposition to what he came to call gender ideology and Argentina’s 2012 law on gender identity motivated Francis to continue the war with even greater urgency.