Of all the trends currently working their way through journalism, there is perhaps none so baffling as the media’s indulgence in the transgender narrative. Journalists appear to have acquiesced to this ideology en masse. No less a formidable source than the “AP Stylebook” declared a few years ago that Associated Press employees are to use “the pronoun preferred by the individuals” in cases where confusion may arise.
At Vox last week, German Lopez gave a careful explanation as to why Diane Sawyer referred to former Olympian and declared transgender Bruce Jenner as a “he” even as Jenner has declared “I am a woman:” according to GLAAD, Jenner has not yet “requested that a new name or pronoun be used,” and so until he desires to be called “she,” we will continue calling him “he” (even though she is no longer a he).
Journalists should not buy into this. Simply as a matter of factual accuracy, it is nonsensical: if tomorrow I declared myself head of the executive branch of the U.S. government, for instance, the AP would not suddenly be required to call me President Payne. More critical still is the fact that, in getting on board with the transgender ideology, journalists, like a great many well-meaning people, are doing a grave disservice to a segment of the population desperately in need of psychological counseling. People who believe they are transgender do not need the preening and self-congratulatory pandering of the pundit class; they need help, and by accommodating their illness the media are doing them harm.
Transgender People Are Hurting
This is not a light or a partisan matter. The pushback against transgenderism is not motivated by politics but by a desire to help people and, in many cases, save their lives. A great many transgender people, having been encouraged and supported by well-meaning friends and family members for years, will experience deep regret after undergoing “gender reassignment surgery;” the post-operative transgender community has a suicide rate strikingly higher than the population at large. More broadly speaking, transgenders in general have an attempted suicide rate of over 40 percent.
These staggering numbers do not suggest a healthy, gender-nonconforming identity; they suggest the presence of tremendous pain, confusion, and despair, and they demand serious assistance and guidance. A journalist using the “preferred pronouns” of a woman who thinks she is a man is doing nobody any favors, least of all the woman who urgently needs to be steered away from her misconceptions.
Just the same, the media have lately been scrabbling to prove themselves both sensitive to and supportive of the transgender phenomenon. Recklessness and irresponsibility have as of late been hallmarks of the American fourth estate, and this is no exception, but in this case the results have sometimes been more confusing and careless than normal.
The Media Cares More about Itself Than Transgenders
Writing again at Vox last week, Lopez implied variously that gender as we know it is “a social construct, not a biological one,” and thus malleable, and that there also may be a “biological link to a person’s transgender identity.” These two concepts are flatly irreconcilable, but the point here is not to make sense of anything; the point is to signal your sensitivity to a controversial topic, even though such signaling encourages a mass delusion and puts peoples’ health and well-being at risk.
In a sense, this folly is understandable. The issue has been cast more often than not as a battle between good and evil, light and darkness, akin to the civil-rights movements of the twentieth century or the various feminist movements of the past and present. Activist Kate Bornstein, in his book, “Gender Outlaw,” declared gender to be “an oppressive class system made all the more dangerous by the belief that it is an entirely natural state of affairs.” To render it in such a way is to put any dissent on a tenuous defense: who wants to be an advocate for either oppression or class systems? Better to simply start using the AP’s “preferred pronouns,” or else just dummy up.
But we should not dummy up—least of all journalists and media figures, who are in a position to shape much of the debate. If Jenner were to one day decide he is a black man, Sawyer would not be obliged to start calling him African-American, even if Jenner believed with all sincerity that it was true.
It is likewise with Jenner’s sincere belief that he is a woman. He is not a woman. He is a man. As a human being and a child of God, he deserves compassion, support, and love from his family and friends. He does not deserve to be lied to, by Sawyer or by anyone else. People who believe they are transgender need help, and they need the truth. We should deny them neither.