Catholics’ Perspectives on Transgender Issues

[01.31.2013]

Last August, Mark Krolikowski was laid off after 32 years of teaching at St. Francis Preparatory School, a 150-year-old Catholic school in Queens, New York. Now, Krolikowski is suing the school, saying that the school fired him because of his transgender identity, which he revealed eight months before he was dismissed. According to the suit, after a complaint about his appearance from the parent of a freshman student, Krolikowski was told that being transgender was “worse than gay.”

Krolikowski, who routinely wore suits and neckties to work, admitted that his habit of wearing earrings and French manicures was “unconventional.” After meeting with school administrators about the complaint, he said that he promised to “tone down” his appearance, but he was dismissed at the end of the year. Since then, an online student petition, asking the school to apologize, has made headlines.

More than 8-in-10 (81%) Americans – including 84% of Catholics – agree that legal protections that apply to gay and lesbian people should also apply to transgender people. Approximately 9-in-10 Americans (89%) and Catholics (93%) also believe that transgender people deserve the same rights and protections as other Americans. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Catholics say they know what the term “transgender” means, and 1-in-10 (10%) Catholics say they have a close friend or family member who is transgender.

The school’s lawyer denied all of the allegations, saying that Krolikowski was terminated legally. Krolikowski’s lawyers are, however, arguing that the firing violated New York State and City law. New York City specifically includes gender identity when prohibiting hiring and firing based on various characteristics like age, race, and sexual orientation.

2 Responses to “Catholics’ Perspectives on Transgender Issues”

  1. Michelle says:

    I have been Catholic my intire life. I am also a transgender woman. I spent 60 yrs as a miserable human male and it affected all stages of my life to include military, marriage, and child raising. I finally could not live that way anymore. I had already attemped suicide. I made everyone near me miserable including my children and grandchildren. I had never made any permanent friendships that whole 60 yrs. I finally divorced my wife of 41 yrs. and began to live as a woman. I have since had gender reasignment surgery and remarried a man I absolutly love and adore. I still attend mass and practice my Catholic faith. The diosese of Baker has told me that I cannot marry my husband under the church blessing. I have finally found some happiness in this llife and piece of mind. I still consider myself Roman Catholic but for how long if the church can’t meet my needs. I’m in limbo and confused. I want to renew my church activities, music, chior, church counsil, lector, etc. I feel abandoned by the church for being my real self. What am I to do?

    • Hilary Howes, CMG says:

      Church hierarchy is out of touch with lay Catholics as this survey indicates. Some leave the church when faced with outdated rules. Others stay and enjoy the support of social justice minded parishes and lay led Intentional Eucharistic Communities. As Catholics we are called to live like Jesus. He called his church to abandon old rules and embrace all the marginalized. I hope to follow his example but I’m hoping that crucifixion is not an option for my 21st society.

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