By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com July 29 2013 2:39 PM ET
On Sunday's episode of the Christian Broadcasting Network's question and answer forum, "Bring It Online" with televangelist Pat Robertson, the right-wing pundit had some surprising things to say about transgender people.
While Robertson has a long history of virulently antigay rhetoric, he's apparently much more willing to accept the existence of transgender people — arguing that undergoing gender-affirming surgery isn't sinful, and even chastising his cohost for passing judgment on trans people.
Responding to viewer David's question about whether he should recognize as female two coworkers who are apparently transgender, Robertson starts by saying he doesn't "understand all that."
"But I think there are men who are in a woman's body," the 83-year-old former Baptist minister continues. "It's very rare, but it's true. Or women that are in men's bodies. And they want a sex change. And that is a very permanent thing, believe me, when you have certain body parts amputated, and you have shot up with various kinds of hormones, it's a radical procedure. I don't think there's any sin associated with that — I don't condemn somebody for doing that."
Not straying too far from his Christian conservativism, though, Robertson does question the legitimacy of some gender non-conforming people. "But somebody who just says, well, I'm really a woman, I question the validity of that statement," Robertson said. "But if they say they're counted as female, you don't count somebody as female unless they really are, or male unless they really are."
Ignoring the writer's note that his coworkers have legally changed their gender markers — indicating the employees in question have at least begun their clinical transition — the CBN host points out that David doesn't really know the medical history of his coworkers. Again, Robertson responds with surprising empathy.
"It's not for you to decide, or to judge," Robertson concludes.
Watch the segment below — with the conversation on trans identities beginning at the 2:28 mark.