The Vatican released a statement Monday strongly denying the notion of gender fluidity, calling the idea of gender identity as an “educational crisis, especially in the field of affectivity and sexuality.”
The 31-page-long document, entitled “Male and Female He Created Them” criticizes the idea that someone’s gender identity or expression can be different than the sex to which they were assigned at birth. The concept of a fluid gender is “founded on nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants.”
Critics say that the document, which was issued by the Congregation for Catholic Education as a teaching guidance for those educating children, can be dangerous to younger LGBTQ people.
“With a particular focus on education and young people, the document is likely to have an especially harmful effect on LGBTIQ youth. While it states that young people should be taught to respect everyone and no one should be subjected to bullying, in fact it promotes the opposite,” OutRight Action International’s deputy executive director Maria Sjödin told the Daily News in an email.
The guidance states decisively that gender is binary and imparted by God, said Sjödin, and that not only denies the existence and rights of transgender people, but also frames “their existence as dangerous and threatening, and entirely [overlooks] the existence of intersex people.”
It can be a “harmful tool that will be used to oppress and harm not only transgender people, but lesbian, gay [and] bisexual people, too,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director at New Ways Ministry, a group of “faithful Catholics” that educates and advocates for justice and equality LGBT people in the church.
“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,” added DeBernardo, who rejects the idea that people “choose their gender.”
The document “will confuse those who sincerely struggle with questions of gender identity and sexual orientation. Such confusion leads to self-harm, addiction, and even suicide,” he added.
Sahar Moazami, UN program officer at OutRight Action International, said that the move by the Vatican is “symptomatic of the destructive efforts” coming from the Catholic church in recent years.
“By actively promoting a definition of gender as a binary and biological phenomenon, and challenging the human rights of women, LGBTIQ people, and anyone who does not fit the narrow definition of the assigned norm, the Vatican has been steadily and consistently undermining the entire international human rights system.”
The document, released by the Vatican Press, was not signed by Pope Francis, and reportedly not intended as a “final answer” on the issue, noted America Magazine, a publication about Catholicism in the United States. It is not known if Pope Francis has seen or approved it.
But blessed by the Holy Father or not, it “largely neglects to engage in discussions about new scientific understandings and discoveries about gender,” wrote rev. James Martin, America’s editor-at-large. The Vatican should “listen to the LGBT person,” he said, as “someone who ministers to LGBT people.”
OutRight Action International executive director Jessica Stern said the Vatican can be inciting anti-LGBTQ hatred and violence with the guidance.
“Too often LGBTIQ people have been, and continue to be, subjected to violence and persecution, harmful and ineffective “conversion therapies”, and have their very basic human rights denied in the name of religion, so-called morality, or other traditional religious values, inciting acts of violence and hate towards LGBTIQ people. We also know that those of us who are trans or break the norms of stereotypical gender roles are often most at risk of being attacked,” she said.