He said, in part, "Today, in schools they are teaching this to children — to children — that everyone can choose their gender."
Francis railed against what he called "ideological colonizing" in "very influential countries." He blamed textbooks financed by wealthy people and institutions for the societal changes, though he declined to specifically name any countries, people or institutions.
Francis said his predecessor, Pope Benedict, said a society that accepts transgender people is "the epoch of sin against God the Creator. He's intelligent! God created man and woman, God created the world this way, this way, this way, and we are doing the opposite."
When asked about homosexuality, Francis said, "Who am I to judge?" He also said he was open to divorcees who remarry without an annulment to receive communion. But he still officially opposes divorce and same-sex marriage.
The pope's remarks drew criticism from rights groups. As spokeswoman for The Human Rights Campaign said, "It is deeply [disappointing] that so soon after his healing apology to LGBTQ Catholics regarding their treatment the church, Pope Francis would choose to deny the very humanity of transgender people, including children."