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Our Culture’s Diabolical Unsexing

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.

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).

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