Taking ‘Species Dysphoria’ Seriously


For some, this post might seem either frivolous or ludicrous. Anything but serious.

But I’m going to take this seriously. I’m also employing some level of satire (fair warning)—satire not directed at any persons or their suffering—what.so.ever.—but directed at a conceptual framework. So, let’s get serious (and satirical).

Instead of falling woefully behind contemporary culture, as Christians have apparently done regarding gender identity disorder, transgenderism, and “gender dysphoria,” let’s get ahead of the cultural curve on a still-emerging phenomenon that mirrors the gender-dysphoria issues—species dysphoria.

(You may be thinking, “species dysphoria”?? Is that really even a thing? Yes. Yes, it really is a thing.)

More and more, many Christians are trying to help their fellow Christians approach gender identity disorders and gender dysphoria with greater compassion. Whether through accepting men presenting as women (or vice versa) by referring to them according to their mode of presentation (or surgical transition), or through promoting gender-neutral restrooms, etc., Christians are being called to a “good-Samaritan” approach that places pastoral outreach and compassion ahead of any concerns regarding morality, correct anthropology, or doctrine.

So, how do we extend a similarly compassionate (humane? or does that not apply here?) Christian approach to the also-quite-small percentage of people who feel that their body doesn’t adequately express their interior identity, which they feel is a different species than human? Rather than “gender identity disorder,” this is “species identity disorder.” Think something like “trans-feline,” or “trans-canine,” or “trans-simian,” perhaps.

Consider how a Christian might seek to affirm these individuals by promoting public social accommodations and working to avoid discrimination against transspecies folk:

Restrooms—along with “gender-neutral” public bathrooms, is there a need for “species-neutral” public facilities, such that, for example, we add appropriate alternatives for persons who don’t want to respond to the call of nature in the usual “human” fashion?

(You probably think I’m joking, but this needs to be a serious conversation—unless you can give reasons why species and gender dysphoria should be treated differently.)

Hotel Accommodations—might there be a need to avoid discriminatory practices against transspecies folk by passing legislation requiring hotels and motels to offer special rooms for those self-identifying as different forms of life—an “Avian Suite,” perhaps? Might there be a need for a fully aquatic motel room for those self-identifying as sea creatures?

(Again, you probably think I’m joking, but this needs to be a serious conversation— unless you can give reasons why species and gender dysphoria should be treated differently.)

Public Schools and Colleges—doesn’t the state need to ensure that transspecies folk feel comfortable in the classroom environment? Alternative learning spaces for those identifying as forms of life incapable of sitting for hours in the confines of an average student desk?

(Again, you probably think I’m joking, but this needs to be a serious conversation— unless you can give reasons why species and gender dysphoria should be treated differently.)

Transportation—similarly, shouldn’t planes and buses be configured with “species-neutral” spaces designed for use by those self-identifying as other-than-human? Special lifts on and off vehicles for those no longer identifying as bipedal?

(Again, you probably think I’m joking, but this needs to be a serious conversation….)

Insurance Requirements—isn’t it important to make sure the medical insurance companies provide adequate coverage for those seeking surgical relief from species dysphoria? Isn’t it discriminatory for a company not to cover such expenses for someone who wants their body to conform more closely to their self-identified species?

(Again, you probably think I’m joking….)

I will concede that these are just a few of the areas that society must face in the very near future regarding this small-but-significant segment of the population. If what is being said about gender dysphoria is accurate—that Christians are called to accommodate identity disorders by accepting whatever manner persons choose to present themselves—then this clearly is the only path forward for our transspecies friends, too.

As a culture, we’ve finally come to understand that self-identification ought not be hindered by our being incarnate. Our common social task is to affirm another’s experience of identity. We need to focus on the “spirit” and not the “flesh,” right? The reality of the person is now entirely subjective—nothing “external” like a body can impose itself upon “me” in this brave, new world.

[Next time: My Uncle Who Thinks He’s Napoleon—Ought We Affirm?]



The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author

Deacon Jim Russell is a lifelong St. Louis resident, "cradle" Catholic, husband, father of eleven, and grandfather of two. Ordained to the Diaconate in 2002, Deacon Russell serves as Family Life Coordinator for the Office of Laity and Family Life in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, Missouri. He previously worked in full-time parish ministry for the last fourteen years. He remains an active supporter of Catholic radio and the Catholic blogosphere (some of his posts can be found at the “Virtual Vestibule,” the official blog of the Archdiocese of St. Louis (http://blog.stlouisreview.com/). Deacon Russell’s theological interests include the sanctity of marriage, the work of Pope St. John Paul II, and Catholic teaching on same-sex attraction. Follow Deacon Russell on Twitter at @MarriageSTL.


  1. Well, congratulations, I suppose, for perpetuating the trope that Christians are self-righteous hypocrites. 😐

    I was struggling with this very topic, trying to come to an understanding of how my non-standard self identity could be viewed within a Christian framework, and your article was on the first page of results. Should anyone actually want to take this seriously, please refer to this document intended for therapists to contextualize what we’re going through: http://www.therianthropedia.com/files/_Therapist%E2%80%99s%20Guide%20to%20Therians%20and%20Therianthropy_.pdf

    Jesus died for the whores, the tax collectors, the lepers of the community. He dined with the chastised and opened his arms wide for those that were looked down upon by society. Christ stands for so. much. more. than the words you have written.

  2. Al,

    The joke was geared towards societal regulations and political treatment of, but not directed at people suffering from it. Most people have some sort of challenges in their life, and for some its identity,.

Leave A Reply