“Gender Ideology” Is a Fiction That Could Do Real Harm

A dangerous concept has emerged in Latin America, one with the power to rapidly mobilize voters and give new energy to the socially conservative agenda. It’s called “gender ideology,” and according to the conservative politicians and activists who coined the phrase, it redefines reforms that benefit women and LGBTI people—such as the right to same-sex marriage—as the “imposition” of a system of beliefs [link in Spanish] that threatens “Christian values” and corrupts society.

If the false narrative of gender ideology continues to gain momentum, the hard-won rights of LGBTI people and women could be endangered.

So far, the makeover has worked: last year in Colombia, for example, a campaign against gender ideology contributed to the rejection of a peace agreement struck between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

What the Colombia example also shows, however, is that the political forces behind gender ideology are mostly the same ones who spent decades fighting to deny the rights of women and LGBTI people. By rebranding politics in opposition to gender ideology and utilizing populist, fear-based messaging, socially conservative forces are able to attack the rights of LGBTI people and women with renewed vigor.

The concept first gained traction in Europe, where anti-LGBTI activists and politicians in Spain and France, among others, used the term while attempting to limit the rights of women and LGBTI persons.

Poland offers one of the most extreme examples. In 2013, Catholic bishops launched a campaign against gender ideology that was quickly taken up by socially conservative activists, groups, and politicians. Unsurprisingly, the campaign, which began with one bishop saying that gender ideology was a greater threat than communism and Nazism, also supported a contentious proposal to criminalize abortion.

Despite its fresh rebranding, gender ideology is based on two misguided assumptions that have long underpinned the movements against women’s and LGBTI people’s rights. First, that reforms benefitting LGBTI people encourage homosexuality, threaten the traditional concept of the family, and pose a threat to Christian values. Second, that men and women should abide by antiquated gender roles and that women’s engagement outside of the family should be limited.

By describing the rejection of these assumptions as an attack on Christianity itself, politicians use gender ideology to gain the support of conservative Evangelical Christians and Catholics, two voting blocs with significant political power across Latin America.

Nowhere was this strategy more effective than in Colombia during the lead-up to the referendum on the peace agreement. Drafted with the input of victims of the conflict, the Colombian peace accords were the first peace agreement to use a gender-based approach to ensure the inclusion of women and LGBTI people in the peace process.

While many in the human rights community considered this to be an exciting step forward, conservative politicians such as former president Álvaro Uribe framed the inclusion of the rights of LGBTI people and women in the peace agreement as an imposition of gender ideology, equating a “yes” vote in the referendum to a vote against Christian values and the traditional Colombian family, as opposed to a vote to end the 50-year conflict.

Rather quickly, other examples of this kind of fear-based messaging popped up across the region: in Mexico, Peru, Brazil, and Panama, to name a few. Just weeks after the campaign began in Colombia, protests against same-sex marriage took place in Mexico. In Peru, meanwhile, there were protests against the inclusion of sexuality and gender identity education in schools.

In both countries, the viral campaigns were shockingly similar to the one seen in Colombia, with comparable information and messaging—potentially a result of coordination between proponents of gender ideology in Colombia and those in other countries.

Because the gender ideology argument has proven so successful at mobilizing socially conservative voters, it’s likely that the phrase will play a significant role during next year’s presidential elections in Colombia and Mexico. To combat such attacks, supporters of women’s and LGBTI people’s rights should continue to shine a light on the contributions of women and LGBTI people, while also exposing the pernicious gender ideology argument for what it is—an attempt to exploit religious beliefs to gain political power and deny people their fundamental rights.

If those who support human rights don’t stand up now, and if gender ideology continues to spread across the region in 2018, it is likely that the gains made by women and LGBTI people in recent years will be under threat.

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Here in Brazil we have this terrible concept, all right-wing is against the women's rights and LGBTI people's rights. They use the name of God, the Bible and the "traditional Brazilian family" to create a hateful environment where everybody that supports the human rights is stigmatized by the society. Here we have one "Trump" too, his name is Bolsonaro, he's accused of racism, homophobia and apologize for torture and rape as good things.

whenever someone disagrees with the extreme nonsense of gender ideology, he or she is labelled as right winger, xenophobe, etc. whereas the truth is that a small minority (intolerant and bellicose) wants to gain special privileges (language, quotas, money) by imposing their views into the majority or people using legal weaknesses to foster self-censoring into the opposition.

Thanks for the excellent article...and thanks for letting readers post comments...something increasingly rare in this politically correct 21st century post-modern worldview (have you noticed how most "alternative" and "social justice" sites disallow comments based on protecting those who are too "sensitive" and in need of "safe space" hehe.)

Follow the money: when one uncovers & names the funding sources of these right-wing groups, the wheels start to fall off their campaigns.

If they're in business, negative publicity creates instant financial pressure. If they're old money, the younger generations of those families will be personally embarrassed (like the Bush & Trump kids attending gay weddings of friends, the women all in professional careers.)

And, especially in Catholic countries, it's not very difficult to point out financial or personal hypocrisies of the Church hierarchy.

Once these characters are forced to publicly & personally "own" their anti-woman & anti-gay positions, they suddenly find other issues to focus on. It has worked that way in the USA for decades.

These anti- people are like the post-war Japanese soldiers hiding out in island caves. They keep fighting private battles without realizing or believing that the war is over & the emperor has moved on to other things.

They'll eventually just fade away, but our strategy must be to limit their damage while publicizing their real-world irrelevance.


Good that people are also awareof the situation in Poland, a country that lost a lot of its young democracy rights already and where religion is clearly used for totalitarian agenda's and for a small group to become Russian style olicharchs. Nothing seem to be off limits and the (local) church and father Ryszek sekt is well rewarded - just follow the money trails, and follow father Ryszek's Maybachs. Unfortunately the Catholic church let it self be used for these agenda's under the idea that democracy is a threat for christianity. Catholisism is the ultimate top -> bottom structure and therefore its counting of not be affected by taking away rights of people.
- btw still surprised to see a lot of media following blindly eufanistic wording by politicians, such as calling demolation "reforms"-

You've just showed you do not know anything about Poland. Fr. Ryszek doesn't even exist! You are probably taking about somebody else, because I can recognize false gossips about a Maybach car. Calling Poland "a young democracy" is an another lie. For centuries Poland's was a democratic country and it a democracy in a modern way since 1791.
I can't comment on the rest of your post, as it is hard to comment somebody's fears and prejudices.

Young democracy? In Poland? Go back to school.

I am a Californian and coming from one of the most forward thinking states in the USA I am glad to see change is underway in Latin America. Keep up the good work.

sorry but what are you trying to say? Seems full of verbose argument that goes all round the houses, has no facts, no citations and says in its totality that some people oppose rights of women and LGBTI. And there is nothing new or surprising in that, whatever name is given to it?

Or am I missing something?

deryck. x

How is it that some people cannot bear to see others with equal rights. And many who espouse Christianity really just use it as an excuse to do and say very unchristian things.

Thank you for the incisive analysis of the development. Do the proponents of the ideology treat the two groups as equal and the same or it is the angle taken by the article. While the two groups do have converging similarities in terms of issues of concern, they are by no means the same.

Gender ideology refers to attitudes regarding the appropriate roles, rights and responsibilities of men and women in society. Traditional gender ideologies emphasizes the value of distinctive roles for women and men where men fulfill their family roles through breadwinning activities and women fulfill their roles through homemaker and parenting activities.

Gender ideology also refers to societal beliefs that legitimate gender inequality. Gender ideology is not a variable that ranges from liberal to conservative instead it refers to specific type of belief those that support gender stratification.

Sociological approach to study and measure gender ideology can be traced back to 1930s with the development of instruments such as Kirkpatrick's 1936 Attitudes Toward Feminism scale.

The most common technique for measuring gender ideology is a summated rating scale in which respondents are presented with a statement and given three to seven response options that vary from strong agreement to strong disagreement.

Gender Ideology movement arrived on the African continent dressed in different robes. On the one hand we have the anti-gay agenda (based on the assumption that there is a gay agenda). On the other, we have well intentioned strategic litigation, say in Uganda. This supported an establishment of legal action against restrictive laws since 2008. Organizations led by lawyers have sprung up boosted by ready funds and having the ability to afford furnished offices with paid staff. This is commendable.However, other organizations which were engaged in strategic emotional/mental health saddled with addressing gender dysphoria and stress from stigma were denied funding so they have low traction compared to the legal and litigant ones. This picture has prevailed in Uganda and it is no wonder that we now have an HIV burden awaiting us. As if that is not enough, again the second wave of support will not surprisingly go to legal and litigant organizations. Gender ideology has been processed differently and action taken at structural levels (government departments,courts, police and education facilities) but the weight of inadequacy is felt at the emotional/mental health level. This is what we see at Most At Risk Populations' Society in Uganda (MARPS in Uganda).

Great voice and spot on that we need to stand up and apply new better 'heart-oriented' strategies to combat the myth of gender ideology...

Bolsona 2018 wil finish with those comunist and pervert ideas.Brasil will not be a gay nacion.

Well, tell me what Brazil will do with gay people. Will they be exterminate in a human oven like nazi did? Come on, don't you know any person who is gay? Someone whose son, daughter, brother, uncle or whatever family member is gay? Do you want to kill these people? Do you want to cause suffering to families? Is that you mean by Brazil will not be a gay nation? I hope Brazil will be known to be a barbarian nation, a prejudice nation, a 'fake traditional, hypocritical, society'. Please, be a real Christian! If not, be a real men.

It has been found in Latin America that many NGOs were linked to the diffusion of Gender Ideology. Some of these NGOs have links to corruption, the purchase of politicians and drug cartels. This has initiated a massive investigation of these NGOs to follow the money trail.

In Costa Rica there is already a political and religious current fighting against the so called "gender ideology". The State through the Ministry of Education has been trying to implement for years a Sexual Education Guide which has been opposed by the religious and conservative groups. In my country the Catholic Church plays an important role when it comes to certain topics. At the Legislative Power we have three or more political parties with religious denomination and I am sure that they will also fight against everything related to gender and LGBTI issues.
I am Catholic but first a human being who supports all efforts of respect to human rights, dignity, and equality.

Thank you. This was a very useful summary and it's reassuring that we do have intelligent global monitoring of worldwide risks and threats. Democracy still has not made peace with religion..The use of moral issues to mobilize apathetic voters is probably key. I wonder about the situation in Australia where voting is m datory. It would be good examine that. Funny I knew some US Catholics wanting to move to Australia in 2012. Australia is more anti Sharia and anti immigration too. In France the moderate muslims are actually feeling betrayed by this conservative wind of change. Moderate Muslims feel betrayed if you read. P.s. Appreciated the comment above about Kirkpatrick 1936.

The global elite who thinks of itself as the Prophet of a "progressive" future, uses its abundant dollars to impose gender ideology in our countries. It will not succeed. It will only scratch the surface with the help of local cadres of indoctrinated fellow-travelers, that are similarly detached from the people. The future of western civilization is preserved in Latin America. The progressives will fade away, and the Judeo-Christian, Greco-Roman civilization will prevail.

The point is, the so called "gender ideology" could be called gender theory (see article below). I think it is called "ideology" because it is a theory defended with very little depth, but with a lot of vigor. It is very similar to many Christians, that defend their side with little depth also. The latter ones uses the name of God and the Bible to defend their point, while the first group uses love and freedom. We should defy our own points of view and try to really find what's right. We can't justify something because we live that way. We must make an effort to discover the right thing to do and adapt ourselves to it, which may be very hard to do.

Look for Social construction of gender in wikipedia.

"The idea that gender difference is socially constructed is an academic construct present in feminist, philosophical and sociological theories about gender,[1][2] and documents written by the World Health Organization (WHO).[3] According to this view, society and culture create gender roles, and these roles are prescribed as ideal or appropriate behavior for a person of that specific sex"

Society is destabilized and the pillars of society are fragmented, especially in Brazil. The quality of education given to the less favored and lesser classes is the most mediocre possible, so that ignorance leads the people to think that it's fashionable (cool) to be stupid, vulgar, imoral and uncult; leading people to believe that they are guilty of their own misfortune..Hyeeza Coope.

I suggest that you research the term in sociology academic papers. It is used and refers to attitudes regarding the appropriate roles, rights and responsibilities of men and women in society. Before writing, do your research!

Glad to hear Latin American societies are starting to react and push-back (even if in a small way for now) against gender ideology.
I am against any type of homophobia and discrimination, but gender ideology goes beyond that, it is "social engineering" (cultural marxism).
Latin Americans are not "little monkeys" who have to copy and mimic every new ideological "fad" liberal Europeans and Americans come-up with... such as gender ideology.
LatAm has rich cultures and strong traditions to be proud of and which should be protected.

Very well said! this is the first intelligent comment that I read after a series of absurd misinterpretations of what this misleading article is all about.

If you are concerned with social engineering in LatAm, and rich cultures and traditions to be proud of, well the catholic church seems the more obvious subject for criticism.

Curriculum changes that have been labeled and attached as "gender ideology" do not present any grand conspiratorial engineering plan. In Peru, for example, they simply expand rights and respect to more individuals (like the ~3% that identify as bisexual or homosexual in the face of discrimination & violence), and they recognize gender, and gender-norms as something that is influenced by society and cultures. What is typical of a man or woman has, and will continue to change in the course of history. Does acknowledging this = social engineering with "gender ideology"?

I see how it would upset a socially conservative church that likes to scare people into accepting only the norms and roles that they believe and man or woman should follow... Do you think it's possible that these conservative movements might also be "metiendo con mis hijos"?

People need to read the actual curriculum changes and content, and speak with the teachers who implement them, before believing the fear mongers.

What's lost here is that behind every label lies a person, with feelings, hope's, family. If you meet a Trans-person or a member of any other minority, you would realise that they are just people, like everyone else, you might even like them. Why not just accept people as they are ? Why the need to control and impose your morality on others ? why not focus on more important issues like hunger and housing, live and let live.

Considering that the first gentile convert to Christianity was a eunuch, someone who was definitely gender different and not a function of the traditional family as we think of it today, I think perhaps it is rigid gender roles that are anathema to a true practice of Christianity. After all, the scripture says that in Christ "we are neither male nor female..."

Hey David. I think you need to be careful here. Your comment seems to be a misuse of the scripture you indicate. Here’s the full context and text of the verse you mentioned:
“26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,
27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Please allow that if the conclusion in your comment is to say that the subject of Galatians 3:28 concerns even tangentially an idea of gender roles, rigid or otherwise, or supports one, that this is erroneous and foreign to the text.
"I think perhaps it is rigid gender roles that are anathema to a true practice of Christianity. After all, the scripture says that in Christ "we are neither male nor female..."
As you may already know Paul, in Galatians chapter 3, was writing to correct the Galatians because an insidious pernicious idea had begun to creep into the church whereby some among them were insisting on obeying the Levitical ceremonial law to be justified before God thereby simultaneously disqualifying those believers that were outside Jewish law unless they observed it too; this was in direct opposition to Christ's insistence on justification through faith in God's provision alone - that is in redemption through Jesus the saviour. They were to trust Christ both for justification as well as sanctification relying on the power and direction of the Holy Spirit to obey the righteous requirements of the law as opposed to the external ceremonial works of the law that have no power to justify anyone before God much less transform the motives and mindset of a person from the inside to conform with Christ. By this standard God had presented a level playing field for anyone who trusts in Him, irrespective of their nationality (Jew or Greek), personal station (slave or free), or biology (male or female). He Paul is clearly referring to an objective reality; such as one's social station or natural biology.
The reality is that we are male or female by biological distinction according to genetic encoding as a matter of objective verifiable fact. Paul is simply making clear that Christ is no respecter of persons in as far as the requirements, principles, and benefits of salvation through faith apply to everyone without partiality with regards to biological sex or any other regard. The distinctions of nationality, social station, biological sex according to the scriptural text are in juxtaposition to - “all children of God THROUGH FAITH”, and “have CLOTHED YOURSELVES IN CHRIST”.
This clearly is not the same thing as saying for example, that men can be women and women can be men or that when they live out their natural roles it is “anathema” to life in Christ, or that when these natural roles are inverted - artificially by forcing biology to conform to feelings or socially engineering a gender ideology around roles – that this is somehow accommodated in the doctrine of salvation and life in Christ; that some of us experience a psycho-social distortion contrary to the reality of our intrinsic and genetically immutable biological sex, or are held to standards of masculinity or femininity that overlook either our individual natural gifts or dignity within the framework of our natural biological roles or falsely equates their worth with idealized cosmetic images in popular culture and media, does present a range of challenges with their own consequences. But first the truth: your statement above does distort the scripture you cited to support a position you are defending.
Think if you are supporting a particular approach or presenting a particular problem related to psycho-social behaviour related to masculinity / femininity and sex, or with regards to how individuals perceive gender roles, that’s fine. But you should clearly state it / them and present your arguments; honest discourse is not served by a weak hermeneutic or not taking care to present and handle scripture accurately.

The text is not intellectually honest. Says that being against Gender Ideology is the same as being against woman and LGBT rights. It is not true. They are different things. Gender Ideology is a theory which preaches that Gender is the result of a social construction and not a thing defined in the conception by combination of genes. It has no scientific basis and yet it is being imposed on our societies, generating a huge distortion in the discussions on this subject.

@Marco, how exactly do your genes determine whether you wear trousers or a skirt, cover your face or shave legs? Or whether you have the right to vote, for instance (as many women still don't in certain countries)? Or whether your father has the right to sell you to a husband you never met (as is the case for many girls still)? Well, all these things are determined by society and called gender, not by what you had between your legs when you were born.

you are confusing two different things here. Wearing a skirt, shaving your legs or growing your hair long doesn't change your sex! which is exactly what gender ideology states, precisely, sex can be malleable. One must be really naive, to put it mildly, to think that the right to vote is dependent on genes. The other scenarios I won't even mention them as they are far irrelevant to what is being discussed here.

Traditional roles for women have evolved with humans. That's why men are stronger and more aggressive. The feminists and LGBTXYZ people want to deny the differences at the expense of the family. No wonder our children are shooting up their schools and acting like a bunch of idiots. They want boys to act feminine, girls to act masculine, and it's a biological/sociological disaster.

I take issue with your opinion, Lionel. You have failed to explain what a "traditional family" looks like. Women and others who you obviously disdain are entitled to pursue activities and make decisions to improve their economic and social standing and that of their families in any country. Countries where independence and economic freedoms for all are stronger and more viable are noticeably better off than those which stiffle the rights of women and others. Countries that force women into a life of servitude and torture are generally underdeveloped, lacking in adequate education, job opportunities for all, infrastructure, healthcare and are poor. They are usually theocracies.

Your statement: "Traditional roles for women have evolved with humans. That's why men are stronger and more aggressive. "

Theocracies generally value the dumbing down of its people and celebrate women as chattel, as well as the torture of those it deems different. In these countries, women's roles have never evolved, and the men are extremely physically and mentally abusive.

The beauty of the United States and other First World countries is that their goal is to value and include all people. There is a certain amount of idealism in this concept, of course, but idealism is necessary when supporting social progress and equality. As you know, the right to pursue happiness is stated in the United States Constitution. It applies to all, not just men. I suppose, in your opinion, women should stay home and be solely responsible for the character development of their children, except in most cases both parents must work.

To blame women who do not fit your concept of "traditional" for gun violence and other maladies is ridiculous and mentally lazy. It is an oversimplification to attribute one factor to a social illness that has many working parts. It reminds me of Nancy Reagan's failed, simplistic campaign against drug abuse: "Just say no". Most crime is committed by men who have free will and are subject to all sorts of influences, so the irony of blaming only women has not been lost on me.

Women and LGBTQ want men to act feminine and girls to act masculine? How? Why? Back it up!

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