In Partnership with:
On Thursday, December 16th, 2021, Geoff Woollard and I spoke with Professor Sonsoles de Lacalle—physician, neuroscientist, professor, and Chair of Health Science at California State University Channel Islands. We spoke with her about gender, sexuality and identity, highlighting the synthesis between rigorous science and the Catholic intellectual tradition. We discussed our sexually dimorphous nature, masculinity and femininity, our inherent complementarity, healthy sexuality, human development and the importance of the family, among other things.
3:20 History of Science & Philosophy in Sex & Gender
8:45 Denial of sex differences, human nature & the transhumanist attitude
10:55 The relational nature of the human being
13:25 Research on relationships and human health
15:55 Importance of the mother in primates
17:45 The biological hardwiring of sex differences
20:00 The concepts of sex, gender, gender identity and sexuality from a biological perspective 27:30 Marriage and health
29:55 Effects of biological parents on children’s well-being
31:05 Biological basis for Masculine & Feminine genius
37:00 Nature and nurture of sexual attraction, gender identity and dysphoria
42:13 The experiential nature of gender dysphoria
44:45 Treatments, transitioning and de-transitioning
50:00 The role of Identity and Meaning in well-being
52:20 Changes in philosophy of well-being to Subjectivity, Autonomy and Expression
56:45 Vacuum of meaning and the Sexual revolution
1:02:15 Family, Marriage, Divorce and health
1:10:40 The role of Evolution in who we are today
1:14:50 Dr de Lacalle’s current research interests
1:18:00 Love, understanding and acceptance in well-being
1:21:30 Development of Theology of the Body
1:28:00 Closing remarks
Some materials for further reading from Dr de Lacalle:
- O’LEARY, Dale, The gender agenda. Redefining equality, Vital Issues Press, Lafayette (Louisiana) 1997
- TAYLOR, Charles, Sources of the Self. The Making of the Modern Identity, Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1989
- BURKE, Cormac, Man and Values: A Personalist Anthropology, Scepter Publishers, New York 2008
- TRIGG, Roger, Ideas of Human Nature. An Historical Introduction, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford 1999
- O’CALLAGHAN, Paul, Children of God in the World. Introduction to Theological Anthropology. Catholic University of America Press, 2016
- MACHOWSKI, Marty, God Made Boys and Girls: Helping Children Understand the Gift of Gender. New Growth Press; 1st edition, September 2, 2019
- ANDERSON, Ryan T., When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment. Encounter Books, 2019
- SHRIER, Abigail, Irreversible damage: the transgender craze seducing our daughters. Regnery Publishing, 2020.
- THE COMMISSION ON CHILDREN AT RISK, Hardwired to connect. The new scientific case for authoritative communities. Published by the Institute for American Values, 2002.
- AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PEDIATRICIANS, Gender ideology harms children. In: http://www.ACPeds.org, 2017.
- SAMUEL, Ana, Sex, Gender and Identity. https://vimeo.com/266942512/
- Heyer, Walter, “I Was a Transgender Woman”, Public Discourse, 2015, http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/04/14688/.
- De Solenni, Pia, A Hermeneutic of Aquinas’ Mens Through a Sexually Differentiated Epistemology of Woman as Imago Dei, Apollinare Studi, 2000.
- JOYCE, Helen, “The New Patriarchy: How Trans Radicalism Hurts Women, Children—and Trans People Themselves”, Quillette, December 4, 2018
- SULLIVAN, Andrew, “The nature of sex”. NY Magazine 2019, http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/02/andrew-sullivan-the-nature-of-sex.html
- TRUEMAN, Carl R., The rise and triumph of the modern self: cultural amnesia, expressive individualism and the road to sexual revolution. Crossway 2020
- PLUCKROSE, H. and LINDSAY, J., Cynical theories. Pitchstone Publishing 2020
- SOH, D., The end of gender. Debunking the myths about sex and identity in our society. Threshold Editions, 2020.
- MITHEN, Steven, The singing Neanderthals: the origins of music, language, mind and body. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2005
On theology of the body
- WOJTYLA, Karol: Love and Responsibility. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1981
- Natural family planning: https://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/natural-family-planning/catholic-teaching/theology-of-the-body
- Pontifical council for the family’s document on the ‘Truth and meaning of Human Sexuality’: https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/family/documents/rc_pc_family_doc_08121995_human-sexuality_en.html
- HAFFNER, P., Mystery of Creation, Gracewing/Fowler Wright Books, Leominster (England) 1995
- RATZINGER, J., In the Beginning…: a Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, T & T Clark, Edinburgh 1995
- ELDERS, L.J., The Philosophy of Nature of St. Thomas Aquinas. Nature, the Universe, Man. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1997
- SCHMAUS, M., God and Creation, Sheed & Ward, London 1969
- WHITNEY,W.B., “Beginnings: Why the doctrine of Creation Matters for the Integration of Psychology and Christianity”. In: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0091647119837024
- JAKI, S.L., Cosmos and Creator, Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh 1980.
- THOMAS, Joseph, An Introduction to the Theology of Creation, Scepter Publishers
ABOUT SONSOLES DE LACALLE
Sonsoles de Lacalle obtained her M.D./Ph.D. from the University of Navarra (Spain) in Neuroscience. In 1990 she moved to the US with a Fulbright Fellowship to train in research at the University of Chicago. Her academic experience includes teaching and research in a medical setting (University of Chicago, Harvard Medical School, and Ohio University’s College of Medicine) and in predominantly undergraduate institutions (CSU Los Angeles, Charles Drew University and currently CSU Channel Islands).
Her research has focused on structural plasticity and brain responses to selective cell loss, and the extent to which the aged nervous system reacts to signals that can promote synaptogenesis and neural regeneration. Dr. de Lacalle has mentored undergraduate, graduate and medical school students, directed training programs and served as Program Director in NIH grants. She has published in peer-reviewed journals and has presented many invited lectures at international symposia and universities.
In addition to her scientific career, she has done postgraduate work in Philosophy and Education. As a junior faculty member at California State University Los Angeles, she was immersed in the academic preparation of underrepresented students, mostly of Hispanic descent, which led her to dig deeper into Catholic social thought, resulting in a book, published in 2010, titled The Phenomenon of Migration and the Magisterium of the Church: Notes for Further Development of Catholic Social Thought, with A. Ellis and P. Santos. She has contributed numerous seminars and presentations at the intersect of faith and reason, mainly within neuroscience, as well as on bioethical issues. She is particularly passionate about the metaphysical notion of creation and how it contributes to the understanding of the human being. In 2018 she was invited to lecture on ”Neurobiology of emotions and the evidence for human interconnectedness” at the Graduate Theological Union, in Berkeley (California), and later offered a revised and shortened version of this talk during the 2019 Society of Catholic Scientists.
Geoffrey Woollard is a graduate student at the University of British Columbia where he applies physics and computer science perspectives to structural biology questions. He is a member of the Society of Catholic Scientists. His interdisciplinary writings on faith-science dialogue have been featured in the Torch, Scientia et Fides, and the online Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Science. (inters.org).
Past & Future Episodes
Series overview available HERE
Human Uniqueness with Professor Christopher Baglow available HERE
Ecological Conversion with Sister Damien Marie Savino available HERE
Green Thomism with Professor Christopher Thompson, available HERE
Contemporary civilization is characterized by a technological paradigm, in which our increasing control over nature challenges our interpretations of the essence of what is natural, what is good, and what is properly human. This has major implications for civic life, in areas such as bioethics, medicine and the dignity of the human person, the state of the environment, and our relationship with the rest of creation. In this speaker series, we engage with leading scientists, philosophers, and theologians whose work is nourished by a Catholic Christian understanding of the world. By listening to and dialoguing with them, and going deeper into the body of work they are engaging, we can wisely engage and critique the technocratic paradigm and the transhumanist attitude. Through their work, as well as an engagement with Catholic Social teaching and the latest work in the Magisterium of the Church, we come to a greater appreciation of the integrity and beauty of creation that is a hallmark of Catholicism.