In Act I, Scene V of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy MacBeth, Lady MacBeth learns of the Weird Sisters’ prediction that her husband will be king. Immediately, she contrives to kill the current king, the noble Duncan, and she makes a troubling request to an odious source:
Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.
Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
Th’ effect and it.
Lady MacBeth is calling upon evil spirits—demons—to “unsex” her: to turn her from a woman to a man. Not literally, as today’s transgender folks want, for evil though she is becoming, she knows such a thing is impossible. But Lady MacBeth does want to abandon her gentle womanly nature and take on the nature of a man—a nature she perceives is necessary to carry out the regicide.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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Shakespeare thus connects the unnatural rejection of one’s sex with the demonic. Lady MacBeth cannot simply declare her new “gender”—she must call on demonic spirits to unsex her, to make her like a man. The diabolical underpinnings of rejecting nature is a connection we too often forget when confronting the transgender movement today.
It’s no secret that transgenderism now dominates our culture. This movement has become all-pervasive, such that we now have the sitting Vice President announcing her pronouns before meetings. Scroll through the “Libs of TikTok” twitter feed and you’ll see videos of elementary school teachers asking their students for their pronouns and drag queens publicly exposing themselves to young children. More than 1.6 million Americans now identify as transgender, which includes a doubling over the past five years of youths who say they’re transgender.
What was once a rare psychological disorder has become in-your-face and commonplace.
Many Catholics are at a loss as to how to combat this cultural phenomenon. Often we want to just throw up our hands and say, “Of course a man can’t be a woman!” and leave it at that. But that’s not possible anymore—what was obvious to all just a few years ago isn’t so obvious to a growing number of people today.
Moving beyond this frustration, it’s good to look into the deep-seated mental health issues that impact those who want to deny their God-given sex, as well as the abuse that too often precedes such a declaration. Many of the souls who believe they are “misgendered” are hurting and need our help. But we cannot ignore the influence that past generations would have also recognized in this unnatural movement: the demonic.
I am not claiming that every transgender person is demonically possessed. Some number of them (likely small) have true psychological problems that need professional treatment. Others feel alienated and declare themselves transgender to gain a sense of belonging to a community that has become socially powerful. And some, particularly among the youth, are switching their gender allegiance simply because it’s the cool thing to do (never underestimate what a young person will do to gain social acceptance).
But the transgender movement itself is from the pits of Hell. It is taking direction from demonic forces, and its leaders are likely demonically influenced, if not outright possessed. How else to describe a movement that freely exposes children to sexual imagery and pushes troubled young people to undergo horrifying medical treatments that would make Mengele blush?
We know this movement is demonic because it seeks to upend the truth with a lie. Just as Satan opposed Jesus, who is the Truth, so too does the transgender movement oppose truth. Like every anti-human movement, transgenderism is of course opposed to the truth, but this movement is particularly diabolical because it wants us to declare acceptance of a lie as truth even while we know it’s a lie. We all know a man declaring himself a woman is still a man—even transgender activitists know it deep in their hearts. But we are all required to say 2+2=5, no matter what we may know is true.
That is the particular evil of transgenderism—it wants to force everyone to lie, to become like Satan himself, who lied to Eve in the garden to achieve his diabolical goal. It wants to beat us into submission, to exchange truth for a lie.
Many Catholics understandably want to shy away from strong language that puts a demonic label on this cultural movement—to speak of diabolical spirits likely will mark us as extreme and outside reasonable discussion. But reasonable discussion has already long left us when it comes to transgenderism: there is no middle ground as to whether a man is a man or a woman.
So we cannot treat transgenderism as just a mental health disorder, or as simply another woke cultural phenomenon. We cannot use only the tools of psychology or politics to overcome transgenderism. Such an effort would surely fall flat.
The battle against transgenderism is ultimately a spiritual battle. As St. Paul said (and to which I add a slight modification for today’s context):
We are not contending against flesh [whether male or female] and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph 6:12)
This is not just a battle against those who want to unsex their flesh, but a battle against the evil spirits called upon to make that happen.
So what does this mean for Catholics who are being flooded with the demonic transgender message everywhere they go? How do we combat it? First, we absolutely should have sympathy and offer psychological help for those souls who are legitimately confused about their God-given sex. We should also be involved in the political process to resist any bills that might enshrine the lies of transgenderism in law.
But we also must take radical actions to protect our children from these demonic forces. If we knew that the local public school held Satanic Black Masses during lunchtime, would we send our kids to that school? Certainly not. So why would we send our children to schools that promote or even allow the diabolical transgender message within its halls? Do we bring our kids to the local library that prominently displays transgender-affirming books during “Pride Month” or hosts Drag Queen Story Hours? If so, to what demonic influences are we exposing our children?
Too many children from otherwise solid families have been sucked into the transgender lie because their parents were unable to see the gravity of the evil being promoted—or recognize where it was being promoted.
Beyond these practical steps, we must always remember that this is a spiritual battle. This means, first and foremost, we must pray and fast. As Our Lord told his disciples, “this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting” (Mt. 17:20). A purely human defense against the transgender tsunami will surely fail.
It also means constant vigilance. St. Peter told us that our “adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We need to be on the lookout for how the transgender message seeps into our culture: what content are we and our children consuming, on social media, on the internet, and on television? Rejecting the lies of the culture and giving our children a foundational understanding of the Catholic teaching on human sexuality is vital to resisting the lies of the devil.
A recognition of the demonic origins of transgenderism also means we need prayers of deliverance and exorcism, both by the laity and by official exorcists. It will not be by human reasoning alone that we overcome transgenderism, but by casting out demons. Like Lady MacBeth, the transgender movement is calling on demonic spirits to aid it in its unsexing. We need to call on angelic and divine spirits to combat them.
[Image Credit: “Lady MacBeth” by Richard Westall (left)/Unsplash (right)]