The Chairperson of the Transgender Equality Network (TENI) has said a new document published by the Vatican challenging gender theory, is upsetting to LGBTQ people as it denies them their identity.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Sarah Phillips said that she was not surprised at the document, which she said continues to push traditional Catholic teaching. 

The document, the Vatican's first on gender theory, was written by the Congregation for Catholic Education as an "instruction" to Catholic educators on how to address the topic of gender theory in line with church teaching.

It was criticised by LGBTQ Catholics as contributing to bigotry and violence against gay and transgender people. 

The document describes gender theory as part of a "confused concept of freedom", and says that the idea of gender being determined by personal feeling rather than biology was an attempt to "annihilate nature".

"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," the 30-page Vatican document says.

Ms Phillips said it is very unhelpful and difficult as it denies the reality of the lives of the LGBTQ community and the work that organisations such as TENI do on the ground.

"We are not surprised; I think this continues to push traditional Catholic teachings in this area. We do believe this is very unhelpful and I think it is difficult as it denies the reality of our lives and denies the reality of what we find, especially with young people on the ground, and the work that ourselves and BeLongTo on the ground in schools for instance", she said.

Asked if it would cause upset, Ms Phillips said that for the majority of the LBGTQ community it speaks to what they expect, as there have been similar statements before from the Vatican. 

She said it upsets part of their community who keep their faith and denies them their identity.

On the document also calling for listening and dialogue, Ms Phillips said there is a contradiction there, as on one hand it says we should listen, but also says that gender theory is wrong. 

She said it tells young people that it is wrong, yet at the same time encourages acceptance.

Asked if it would feature in classrooms, she said she thinks schools have moved along, and the work that organisations such as TENI do has assisted children to come out in schools. 

Ms Phillips said she thinks it will be difficult to see if the document will have a real effect on the ground, as many schools are very inclusive and are starting to embrace that they have to support transgender students.

She said she thinks there is still an element of confusion around gender, and a document like this will just continue to confuse people as it denies the idea that there is a spectrum of both sex and gender.

A prominent US Jesuit writer, Fr James Martin, tweeted: "The document is mainly a dialogue with philosophers and theologians, and with other church documents; but not with scientists and biologists, not with psychologists, and certainly not with LGBT people, whose experiences are given little if any weight."

Additional Reporting Reuters