Catholics bishops in the UK have said they are 'deeply concerned' about the rise in transgender ideology, warning that it is 'creating confusion'.
The bishops hit back at 'the idea that the individual is free to define himself or herself' which they said 'dominates discourse about gender'.
'Our human instinct is otherwise,' they said.
Following a four-day meeting in Leeds the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales issued a statement saying the 'intense' debate around gender 'raises profound questions about human nature, how we understand ourselves, relate to one another and our capacity for self-determination'.
However they reaffirmed the Catholic Church's teaching and said: 'God creates human beings male and female.'
Bishop John Sherrington told journalists at a press conference on Friday the bishops wanted to emphasis the difference between male and female 'in contrast to those who argue individuals are free to define themselves'.
Speaking to Christian Today afterwards he stressed there was a 'place of welcome' for everyone and he wanted to 'accompany' those who identified as transgender.
'We are trying to understand more fully those who don't accept their biological sex and wish to change their gender,' he told Christian Today.
'Ultimately the end goal is that person in dialogue with the Holy Spirit in that process of accompaniment. Ultimately the end goal is before God at death.'
The bishops' statement quoted from Pope Francis emphasising the 'difference and reciprocity in nature of a man and a woman'.
'We are deeply concerned that this ideology of gender is creating confusion,' the bishops said. 'As we continue to reflect on these issues, we hope for a renewed appreciation of the fundamental importance of sexual difference in our culture and the accompaniment of those who experience conflict in their sense of self and God-given identity. We all have a duty to protect the most vulnerable.'