It rejects the term ‘transgender’ and said the purpose of the biological ‘complementarity’ of the male and female sex organs is procreation
The Vatican has issued an official document that rejects the ability of people to choose or change their gender, and instead insists that men and women have a sexual “complimentarity” that is designed for procreation.
Published during LGBT Pride Month, the text, entitled “Male And Female He Created Them” from the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education claims to tackle what it described as an “educational crisis” in sex education as a whole, and rejects the terms transgender and intersex. It is directed at Catholic teachers, parents, students and clergy.
The document was immediately denounced by LGBT Catholics for contributing to transphobia and bigotry against LGBT people.
Jay Brown of the Human Rights Campaign — the largest LGBT-rights group in the United States — said the Vatican‘s stance “sends a dangerous message that anybody who experiences gender diversity is somehow less worthy”.
Advocacy group New Ways Ministry called the text a “harmful tool” that will be used to opress the LGBT community, and that it will further confuse individuals questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation, putting them at risk.
Real LGBT experiences missing
The text called for a “path of dialogue” and listening on the issue of “gender theory” in education.
But even priestly advocates for LGBT Catholics noted that the text appeared to have relied entirely on previous papal pronouncements, Vatican documents and philosophers and theologians.
“The real-life experiences of LGBT people seem entirely absent from this document,” said Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest who wrote a book on improving Catholic Church outreach to the LGBT community, titled Building A Bridge.
“We should welcome the congregation’s call to dialogue and listening on gender, and I hope that conversation will now begin.”
Rejects transgender and intersex identities
Pope Francis has repeatedly argued the position that people cannot choose their genders.
While the document is not signed by the Pope, it represents the first attempt to put the Vatican‘s position, first articulated fully by Pope Benedict XVI in a 2012 speech, into a comprehensive, official text.
The document called 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”.
It called gender fluidity a symptom of the “confused concept of freedom” and “momentary desires” that characterise post-modern culture.
It rejected terms such as “intersex” and “transgender” and said the purpose of the biological “complementarity” of the male and female sex organs was to ensure procreation.
Francis DeBernardo, head of New Ways Ministry, said such concepts are outdated, misinformed and ignore contemporary science on factors beyond visible genitalia that determine gender.
“Gender is also biologically determined by genetics, hormones and brain chemistry – things not visible at birth,” Mr DeBernardo said in a statement.
“People do not choose their gender, as the Vatican claims, they discover it through their lived experiences.”
He said the Catholic Church should encourage this process of discovery, saying it’s “a process by which individuals discover the wonderful way that God has created them”.
Additional reporting from Press Association.