The Vatican has rejected the idea that people can choose or change their own gender, saying it poses a threat to traditional families.
In a new teaching document released Monday, the Vatican's Catholic education department says the idea of gender fluidity was “nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants.”
The paper, released during LGBT Pride Month, immediately drew condemnation from LGBT Catholics as contributing to bigotry and violence against gay and transgender people.
“The concept of gender is seen as dependent upon the subjective mindset of each person, who can choose a gender not corresponding to his or her biological sex, and therefore with the way others see that person,” says the booklet titled “Male and Female He Created Them."
The document, which is intended as a teaching tool for clergy, parents and teachers, calls for a new alliance among families, schools and society to offer a "positive and prudent sexual education'' in Catholic schools so children learn the "full original truth of masculinity and femininity.''
Francis DeBernardo, head of the advocacy group New Ways Ministry, said the Vatican's ideas on gender were outdated and misinformed, and ignore contemporary science on factors beyond visible genitalia that determine gender.
He said it was not about people simply "choosing" their gender, as the Vatican says. “They discover it through their lived experiences,” he said in a statement.
“The document associates sexual and gender minorities with libertine sexuality, a gross misrepresentation of the lives of LGBT people, which perpetuates and encourages hatred, bigotry, and violence against them,” DeBernardo said.