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Huh?

Jim Burroway

July 30th, 2013

A question was posed to Pat Robertson at the 2:30 mark:

I work with two people who have decided that they are females. I know what the Bible says about homosexuality, but is it wrong to refer to them as females since they have had their gender status changed in the eyes of the law?

Robertson’s answer certainly wasn’t what I expected:

I don’t understand all of that but I think there are men who are in a woman’s body. It’s very rare but it’s true. Or women that are in men’s bodies. They want a sex change and that’s a very permanent thing, believe me. When you have certain body parts amputated and you are 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. But if somebody just says “I’m really a woman,” I question the validity of that statement. They say they’re counted as female… You don’t count somebody as female unless they really are, or male unless they really are.

Q: In this instance though this is a person who works with two people, so he doesn’t really know their intention. He doesn’t know their personal medical scenario.

Robertson: It’s not for you to decide or to judge.

Comments

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Hyhybt
July 30th, 2013 | LINK

Sure is confusing when someone who’s been so reliable in his lunacy comes up with something like that.

Timothy Kincaid
July 30th, 2013 | LINK

Here, let me translate it to make it consistent: If you are transgendered then you have to have surgery. If not, God will send a hurricane to destroy some trailer park in Alabama.

jerry
July 30th, 2013 | LINK

Thanks for the laugh, Timothy.

Andrew
July 30th, 2013 | LINK

In a way, it’s consistent with their message of distinguishing between the sinner and the sin. Presenting as a person of the opposite gender is not in itself sinful. Because we all know that only sex is sinful (??!!).

Amazingly, Robertson has actually drawn an intellectually coherent distinction between identity and behavior inasmuch as he erroneously sees homosexuality in those terms. I’m pretty sure the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about crossdressing, and I’m not sure it’s sufficiently specific about medical gender correction to warrant the condemnation sought by the questioner.

Where it’s baffling is that he actually a) sees a distinction between homosexuality and gender expression, and b) advises that someone not judge. We aren’t used to nuance or a message of tolerance from this guy.

He also seems to get that people don’t subject themselves to intense and invasive medical intervention unless something is seriously driving them in that direction. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get that straight people don’t pair off with people of the same gender because of a lack of character, but because we are also drawn that way, and don’t see a need to live life alone, celibate, and miserable just to avoid making other people happier for the 30 seconds a year they consider the question.

Curiously, he seems to regard homosexual behavior as a choice, but transgender expression as innate, which to our sensibilities makes no sense at all.

What fascinating insight into Robertson’s brain.

Hyhybt
July 30th, 2013 | LINK

Now introduce him to people who are gay *and* trans and see what happens.

Josh
July 30th, 2013 | LINK

The first part of the video, on tithing, annoyed me as much as I’d expect, at least. Here’s Robertson, sitting in a nice studio in a nice suit and tie, random crap strewn about behind him to decorate the place, telling a woman who’s taking tithe money to pay for utilities and groceries, to tithe. It’s like he’s dispensing advice to peasants from his ivory tower without even realizing the gulf between them.

His trans comments were nice. It was also really nice that he ignored the (silly) mention of homosexuality in the question. A quibble: he seemed to imply that he’s only alright with trans people who get “body parts amputated”, while I think he should have just said, “Be nice to them, treat them how they want to be treated, and move on.”

Andrew
July 30th, 2013 | LINK

Hybybt – actually, something I didn’t know until I worked on a local LGBT speaker’s bureau, but a huge number of MtF transsexuals date women (lesbian trapped in a man’s body, so to speak). I’m told that lesbians are NOT delighted about this, and it creates a significant amount of frustration and isolation for those individuals. I’ve also noticed that more than a few FtM boys date other bioboys. Just goes to show that the scope of diversity is breathtaking.

Josh, are we at all surprised at the simplistic mindset of Robertson re: sexual reassignment surgeries? Point of fact, penises (peni?) are not “amputated” but inverted. I’m not sure whether you’d call breast reduction an amputation – they don’t really qualify as “limbs”. And I still don’t entirely understand how they craft peni(ses) for FtM transitions, but that may reflect that my last interaction with the source material was 23 years ago, it was dark, and I was drunk.

Priya Lynn
July 30th, 2013 | LINK

Andrew said “I’m pretty sure the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about crossdressing…”.

Actually, there is a passage in there something to the effect of its an abomination for men and women to wear each other’s clothes.

Timothy Kincaid
July 30th, 2013 | LINK

It’s in the book of rules that may have made sense in a different culture and time but have little application in today’s time and culture.

Deuteronomy 22:5
A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.

It probably had to do with breaking gender roles. Though I suppose a trans person could adopt this to argue that God detests those who do not live their real (internal) gender.

Andrew
July 31st, 2013 | LINK

Good thing I’m not a Bible scholar. But now I’m truly confused… how does Robertson pick and choose his passages in this case?

Priya Lynn
July 31st, 2013 | LINK

Andrew asked ” how does Robertson pick and choose his passages in this case?”.

A small but signicant minority of right wing christians accept that a sex change changes a person’s gender and although they are staunchly anti-gay they don’t have a problem with people changing their physical genders. I think Robertson accepts that after sex reassignment surgery a man has become a woman and so women’s clothes are consistent with that person’s new gender so the biblical passage never comes into play in his mind.

jpeckjr
July 31st, 2013 | LINK

Timothy, trailer parks do not cause hurricanes. Trailer parks cause tornadoes.

Mark Oliver
July 31st, 2013 | LINK

Andrew writes: “Curiously, he seems to regard homosexual behavior as a choice, but transgender expression as innate, which to our sensibilities makes no sense at all.”

Prompted by his comment, I notice that Robertson makes even less sense than I had realized. If two men are a ‘couple’, Robertson _might_ see in them damnable homosexuals that deserve to fry in hell for eternity and that – meanwhile – are calling down God’s wrath on all of us simply on account of their very presence. On the other hand, Robertson _might_ see in them two apparent men, one of whom – according to genetics, brain formation & structure and hormonal patterns (i.e., in everything but the plumbing) – is actually a woman [perhaps one that cannot afford or who is saving up for surgery and treatment]. In the latter case, everything’s hunky-dory. You can afford to be nice to such people; you won’t be polluted by associating with them.

Well, Pat Robertson chose to teach religion, not critical thinking: what, really, do we have a right to expect?

If God’s wrath were called down on stupid religionists the way it is called down on homosexuals, there wouldn’t be one stone left standing on another on this planet.

QUIZ: Who first said, “God must really love logic-challenged televangelists, considering he made so many of them.”

Mark Oliver
August 1st, 2013 | LINK

{{ I work with two people who have decided that they are females. I know what the Bible says about homosexuality, but is it wrong to refer to them as females since they have had their gender status changed in the eyes of the law? }}

As JB so aptly put it, “Huh?”

The moral of the story may be that if you want to have any hope of getting a coherent answer from Pat Robertson, your best bet is to ask an incoherent question.

If it weren’t on video and you were just reading a transcript, one might think that Robertson was asking the questions and someone with some knowledge of biology was answering. (Well, even the desert gets some snow once in a while.)

What really would have astonished me would be Robertson stopping to look for a well formed question before answering … after which, he might have asked, “What do you mean by ‘wrong’? I can’t respond (or even understand the question) unless you define your terms.”

“… And I see you are frightened by the spectre of homosexuality. You didn’t say that the two people you work with are a ‘couple’, but assuming they are … there are so many possibilities, even ones you’ve probably never dreamt of. In the case of a (putatively) heterosexual couple in which the ‘man’ believes he is ‘male’ and the ‘woman’ believes she is ‘female’, one of them could be wrong about that. How could that be? Because one’s sexuality has much more to do with genetics, with brain formation & structure and with hormonal patterns than it has to do with plumbing. So if one of the parties in this couple is wrong, then this is actually a homosexual couple and you’ve got a big problem. Of course, both parties could be wrong, in which case you’d be off the hook.”

“On the other hand, if the both persons in a couple claim to be female (or both claim to be male), but one of them is wrong, then they aren’t a homosexual couple after all, and – once again – you are off the hook. Cool, right?”

“Well, up to now I have mindlessly accepted the presupposition of your question to the effect that all this is a _problem_ for _you_ somehow. Even if the two people you work with actually are females, and even if they actually are a couple, and even if they actually are homosexuals, and even if you believe the Bible disapproves, even if all of that, precisely how does this become a problem for YOU? … Really, the interesting thing about this question isn’t the ‘two people who have decided that they are females'; the interesting thing here is what in the world is going on with YOU?”

“In any case, as to your query, ‘is it wrong to refer to them as …’, the Bible has a simple answer for this question (as to most such questions):”

“Do to others as you would have them do to you. . . . If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. . . . Love your enemies, do _good_ to them … _then_ your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” [Luke 6:31-37, NIV]

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies … that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. . . . Be perfect, therefore, _as_ your heavenly Father is perfect.” [Mt. 5:43-48, NIV]

Mark Oliver
August 1st, 2013 | LINK

{{ In this instance though this is a person who works with two people, so he doesn’t really know their intention. He doesn’t know their personal medical scenario. }}

The sort of reply from PR that would have astonished me:
“Yes: thanks. You make my point for me. But let me elaborate for both of us. INTENTION: When a person makes a claim, they may be lying. They may be telling the truth (in terms of what they actually believe) and yet (unknowingly) be wrong. Or they may tell the truth (as they know it) and be correct. So when you say, ‘he doesn’t really know their intention’, that is so true. We rarely ever do know (and rarely ever could know) with any certainty the intention of someone else. [In fact, most of us don’t even know OUR OWN intentions very well.] We would all do well to remain mindful of that.”

“On the 2nd point, BIOLOGY: Whatever the outward appearances might be, most of us will never know the genetics, the brain formation & structure or the hormonal patterns of another person. So when you say, ‘he doesn’t know their personal medical scenario’, that is so very true. In fact, most of us will never know OUR OWN genetics, brain formation & structure or hormonal patterns in any significant detail. Again, we would all do well to remain mindful of that.”

Hyhybt
August 1st, 2013 | LINK

Andrew: I’m familiar. The reason it was on my mind to bring up in the first place is that a good friend of mine is a gay trans man who used to identify as a lesbian. Which confuses the heck out of me how you get from one to the other, but I figure it’s none of my business.

Boo
August 1st, 2013 | LINK

Andrew- “but a huge number of MtF transsexuals date women (lesbian trapped in a man’s body, so to speak). I’m told that lesbians are NOT delighted about this”

It’s mostly a generational thing. A significant portion of lesbians who came of age in the 70s are very staunchly anti trans, but the younger generations mostly don’t care.

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