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Clergy learn about SSA and other gender identity issues

PENAMPANG – As a follow up of the recently held annual meeting of the Regional Commission on Family, Laity and Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei in Bukit Mertajam, Bryan Crucis Shen, at the invitation of Archbishop John Wong, conducted talks  on “Understanding Same-Sex Attraction (SSA): a psych-development view from clinical experiences”  at Vianney Home here on 2 July 2018.

Forty participants comprising bishops, priests and deacons from the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, and the Dioseses of Keningau and Sandakan attended the five informational sessions.

Shen holds a Master’s degree in Social Science (Counselling) from the University of South Australia. He is a Registered Counsellor as well as a recognised Clinical Supervisor with the Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC).

He has been spending time since 1997 providing counselling programmes in religious training houses, organisations and schools in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The speaker said the talks “aim to put aside fear, misconceptions and prejudice, and bring forth appropriate attitudes and responses.”

To help the clergy to better grasp the talks, Shen explained  terminologies such as Gay, SSA,  Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT), Gender Dysphoria and To Come Out.

He went on to explain what Normal Gender Identity Development is about, and explored on what could go wrong.

“There are eight factors contributing to SSA,” said the speaker. These are divided into four groups: first group focuses on Intra-psychic Factors consisting of 1) Same-Sex Disaffiliation (lack of connection to the same gender); 2) Gender Incongruence (feeling different from people of the same gender); 3) Unhealthy Childhood Relationship with the opposite gender; and 4) Gender Concept Distortion.

Second group  consists of External Factors such as 5) Sexual Conditioning; and 6) Sexual Abuse, physically, mentally or morally.

Third group covers other Mental Health Factors such as (7) Certain Personality Traits.

Fourth group looks to Biological Contributions as (8) Some Biological and Physical Factors.

At the end of the sessions, Shen suggested to the attendees what they could do as catechists, teachers, parents, priests, religious, school principles, leaders.

He stated that “The work of forming the next generation to be good parents, good role models, administrators of justice, protectors of the vulnerable, etc., has great importance in preventing SSA and other gender identity issues. Knowing and defending ourselves against obstacles to these is also important. Even more important is the knowledge of Chasity through practice, experiencing its benefits to these virtues, distinguishing the difference between outer value and intrinsic value, and then including this knowledge in our prayer, teaching and formation.”

Archbishop Wong thanked Shen for a fruitful and important talk on SSA to the clergy, enabling them an understanding on SSA in the psychological perspective. – Fr Mattheus Luta

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