Recently, we reported that Chaz Bono would be appearing on this season’s Dancing With The Stars. Since then, the moral majority family values nutjobs have unleashed their transphobic fury denouncing his selection, and are using the opportunity to decry our collective celebration of gender dysphoria. In typical family values fashion, dissenters are concerned about vulnerable children.
Fox News’ Medical A-Team led the attack on Chaz and DWTS, with Dr. Keith Albow writing that he “advise[s] parents to not allow their children to watch the episodes in which Chaz appears” and that “many of the children who might be watching will be establishing a sense of self which includes, of course, a sexual/gender identity.”
What I always find interesting about these kinds of complaints/attacks is the admission of a socialized form of gender formation, and of the vulnerability and fluidity of sexuality and gender. The admission here is that children need to be raised, socialized, shaped to perform gender; it is NOT inherent or self-evident. So on one hand, gender is stable, important, natural, and on the other, children are vulnerable and must be molded? Something doesn’t add up.
Some will be girls becoming comfortable with dramatic changes in their bodies. Some will be boys coming to terms with integrating the dawn of manhood with exquisite feelings of vulnerability. Young viewers will include tomboyish girls and sensitive, less stereotypically “masculine” boys. They will also include children who have sustained the losses of loved ones and are wrestling with depression, perhaps wondering who they are absent their deceased mothers or fathers.
The last thing vulnerable children and adolescents need, as they wrestle with the normal process of establishing their identities, is to watch a captive crowd in a studio audience applaud on cue for someone whose search for an identity culminated with the removal of her breasts, the injection of steroids and, perhaps one day soon, the fashioning of a make-shift phallus to replace her vagina.
It is a toxic and unnecessary byproduct of the tragic celebration of transgender surgery that millions of young people who do watch “Dancing with the Stars” will have to ponder this question: Maybe my problems really stem from the fact that I’m a girl inside a boy’s body (or a boy inside a girls body). Maybe I’m not a tomboy; I’m just a boy! Maybe I’m not just being bullied because I’m a sensitive, reflective young man interested in flowers, not football. Maybe I’m not just uncertain about my sexuality. Maybe I’m a girl! Maybe all this angst and suffering I’m feeling as I emerge into puberty and pass through it isn’t just because I’m changing, but because I should change completely—and have my breasts removed or my penis amputated!
Regardless, Albow can’t seem to even stick to one single gender pronoun. I mean, I know that all kinds of people screw this up. He/shes, he’s a her, and she’s a him. NO. He’s a he. And if you really just don’t agree with it, fine, call him a her. Stand your ground and refuse to use the pronoun by which he wishes to be known. But why the flip-flopping? Why is he a “transsexual” woman, as Albow claims? Why not a transsexual man as the rest of the world would describe him? I expect to read the “appear to be a man” and “pretending to be a man” statements from Fox News. Transgenderism is pretending, appearing, faking to a large number of people. However, it is my opinion that Keith Albow is neither stupid, nor ignorant when it comes to transgender issues. In fact, he is quite knowledgable about the terminology and culture of it all, and yet he continues to switch between male and female pronouns instead of sticking to his guns because it gives the illusion to his readers that the issue is even more effed up and confusing than it is.
In The Headlines
Jaime, Medical Schools Not So Great At Teaching About Gay People, Autostraddle (Wednesday September 7, 2011)
Nicki Thomas, Alberta Immigration Minister Pulls Radio Ads Over ‘Win a Wife’ Contest, The National Post (Tuesday September 6, 2011)
Shauna Lewis, LinkedIn Pulls Gay Ad, Xtra.ca (Thursday September 1, 2011)
Queer Sparks Speak on Identities, Race, Sexuality and Language, Kickaction.ca (September 6, 2011)