Hey Conservatives, There’s Nothing “Delusional” About Being Trans
Chelsea Manning’s declaration yesterday that she didn’t want to be referred to as “Bradley” anymore and would like to live as a woman from now on instantly made her the most famous transgender person in the world. It also forced people to deal with the idea that some people feel like they are a man in a woman’s body, a woman in a man’s body, or a version of gender that doesn’t fit into the traditional male-female binary. This is not a new phenomenon—those who are neither precisely men nor women have existed across cultures and eras and have been both venerated and persecuted over the centuries. The simplest and most humane way to treat trans people is to just treat them as people, refer to them as the gender they want to be referred to as, and accept that unless you’re having sex with someone, it doesn’t matter what his or her genitals look like.
For people who haven’t had much exposure to trans people, however, Manning’s announcement was “controversial” or “confusing.” (Even though it was already known that Manning was transgender.) The ultra-cis folks at Fox & Friends were all like, “Whaaaat? A man wants to be a woman? That is bizarre and I don’t think anyone understands what’s going on!” Other media outlets were reportedly struggling with which pronoun to use when referring to Manning. (It’s not thathard, guys. The VICE style guide says, “If someone is transgender or a transvestite, use the pronoun of his or her preferred gender.”)
Fox and Friends’ bewilderment is certainly insensitive but using the wrong pronoun or admitting that you don’t understand transgender issues isn’t all that vicious or transphobic, necessarily. Enter the National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson, who just wrote a post titled “Bradley Manning Is Not a Woman” and subtitled “Pronouns and delusions do not trump biology.”