Chicago Sun-Times Writer Tells Laverne Cox She’s “Not A Woman”

laverne-coxCongratulations, Kevin D. Williamson, you are the possibly one of the worst trolls in the history of the Internet.

Who can say why Williamson thought it would be a good idea to write an essay entitled “Laverne Cox is not a Woman” and why the Chicago Sun-Times decided it would be a good idea to print it? Surely nobody can actually believe the insane claims he’s making in this piece, can they?

Williamson’s latest piece is a travesty of journalism, stuffed to bursting with incredibly ignorant attitudes about trans people. And yet, somehow, there it is in what is otherwise a generally reputable news outlet.

Among the essay’s worst offenses:

  • “Bradley Manning is not a woman. Neither is Laverne Cox.”
  • “Cox is not a woman, but an effigy of a woman.”
  • Corrective surgery is “the offer to amputate healthy organs in the service of a delusional tendency.”
  • “Having a culture organized around the elevation of unreality over reality in the service of Eros, who is a sometimes savage god, is not only irrational but antirational.”

Okay, just please stop. Let’s make a couple things clear, Kevin D. Williamson. Trans women are women. They are women as soon as they identify as such. There’s really no argument to be made, unless you are just willfully ignorant of the facts. Treatments for gender transition are supported by the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association.

Here’s a simple rule of thumb, Kevin Williamson: if a person has been struggling with gender identity their entire life, and you have not struggled with it ever, the chances are pretty good that they are more qualified than you are to know what gender they are.

Telling a trans woman that she’s a man is as unreasonable as saying it to any other woman. It’s particularly galling when it comes from someone who apparently has absolutely zero accurate information about what it is like be trans.

But for whatever reason, Williamson has decided that he gets to be the gender police, and tell everyone what they are not allowed to be, according to his rules. Okay, fine. Some people are awful, and that’s just the way it is. We are sad that Laverne Cox and trans people everywhere have to put up with strangers explaining their own bodies to them.

The real mystery is why the Chicago Sun-Times would waste space on his essay.

Update: The Chicago Sun-Times has retracted Williamson’s article and apologized for syndicating it.

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  • Nowuvedoneit

    *grabs popcorn * pulls up a chair

  • Kamuriie

    Labeling him a “troll,” or that his claims are “insane” doesn’t further the conversation, and doesn’t serve anyone’s interests–especially the trans community’s.

    Which claims of his are you identifying as “insane”?

    His primary claim: “Your biological sex isn’t determined by your feelings.”

    This is a scientific fact. It’s not up for debate, it’s not “insane,” it’s reality. No amount of wishing, no amount of surgery, no amount of gender dysphoria changes that fact. Laverne Cox was born with a penis, in virtually all certainty has XY chromosomes–by any objective definition, when confronted with Cox’s body, a doctor would proclaim “this human being is biologically male.”

    His secondary claim: “Sex-reassignment surgery doesn’t transform a biological male into a biological female (or vice versa).”

    Likewise, this is a scientific fact. SRS doesn’t transform male anatomy into female anatomy or vice versa–it creates loose approximations that are intended to ease the dysphoria that trans individuals feel.

    His tertiary claim: “Hormone therapy doesn’t transform a biological male into a biological female (or vice versa).”

    This is also a scientific fact. Hormone therapy may superficially alter a person’s chemistry so that they look more LIKE a member of the opposite sex, but does not make them one. Cessation of the therapy causes a regression of the appearance, and no amount of hormones create working genitalia of the opposite sex.

    His only really controversial assertion is regarding whether or not it’s a GOOD IDEA to indulge people identifying as trans with their attempts to identify as a member of the opposite sex, or to try some other approach (like therapy).

    I, personally, feel that trans folks should be treated with 100% dignity and their preferred identity should be used by everyone–Laverne Cox, for all intents and purposes, is indeed a woman.

    Either way, Queerty, the trans community can’t realistically expect to deal with people like Williamson by writing off assertions of scientific facts like this as “insane” or “hateful.”

    Respond SUBSTANTIVELY. Not emotionally.

  • Nowuvedoneit

    @Kamuriie: The last line was what I’ve been preaching about. I’m not going to get in the debate about biology because well I was born with an issue that required life saving surgery as a toddler. So if my parents hadn’t reacted to that and just said hey he was born that way he can stay that way, I wouldn’t be here. People do need to sit back, collect facts, present your case, then argue.

  • corvaspikenard

    @Kamuriie: I’d like to address your points in order as they aren’t particularly accurate.
    I’m loathe to assume a person’s chromosomes. I don’t know what mine are, but it’s likely I’m XXY as I had all the markers for it pre-transition.
    Since trans people’s numbers are proportionate to the assumed numbers of people with intersex conditions, I would not assume all or even most trans people are plain XX or XY.

    Secondly, the genitals are actually very similar. The clitoris IS in fact a small penis, with a shaft and a glans. It lacks size and a urethral opening, but otherwise it’s the same structures.
    When trans men start testosterone, their penis grows under the influence of T because the body is attempting to do exactly what it should during puberty.
    Similarly, the scrotal tissue of trans women on estrogen thickens and attempts to become labial tissue.
    These are just two examples of how our genitals are the same tissue, just with different hormonal expressions. There are many more.

    SRS for trans women does a pretty excellent job of arranging that tissue into a fuctioning vulva an vagina. Is is not a ‘loose’ approximation (was that an attempted pun?) at all, but an accurate one. Surgeons have gotten very good at reconfiguring the genitals to match.
    The surgery options for trans men are not as good yet, but they will catch up soon, I hope. Some trans men get sufficient growth from T not to bother with surgery anyway.

    Your claim that hormone therapy, when stopped, will cause a regression. This is not true if the person has had their testes or ovaries removed. They will not ‘revert’. The changes are largely permanent.
    For example, post menopausal women who aren’t on HRT don’t lose their breasts.
    If I were to stop HRT today (I’m on a menopause maintenance dose) then very little would happen, other than normal menopause symptoms from lack of estrogen.
    Likewise, a trans man’s penis won’t shrink back. The growth is permanent, regardless of what hormones you then put in his body.

    By ‘working genitalia’ I’m guessing you might be meaning ‘reproductive function’. Nine uterus transplants were done last year in Sweden (on women without reproductive systems, so trans women are viable too) and the UK is about to start them.
    Pregnancy for trans women will happen in the next 10 years, easily. Trans men might take a bit longer, though we can already make sperm from stem cells and turn ovaries into testes, so it’s not far away.

    I don’t think it’s fair to write off trans people’s biology when they become phenotypically opposite after they transition.

    And if you’re truly looking to view this from a science perspective, ‘female’ means ‘produces large gametes’ and male means ‘produces small gametes’.
    Post-op trans people produce neither, so their scientific sex is ‘neuter’.

  • Nowuvedoneit

    Neuter my dogs didn’t like that.

  • Cam

    I think the thing that is confusing to me is……..

    Why is it so important to him? It’s kind of like when you have a rabidly anti-gay preacher or politician the assumption now is that there is something else, a major issue going on there. Them being a self-hating closet case is usually the most common.

    With this writer, I’m just not sure why he cares? If Laverne Cox is happy with her life especially in comparison to before transitioning I’m just not sure why that seems to upset the guy so much.

  • corvaspikenard

    @Cam: Indeed! I’ve had a number of run-ins online with rabid anti-trans bigots who later ended up admitting to a crossdressing fetish or who eventually started transition.
    Self-hatred often manifests as external hatred.

  • KDub

    He could’ve worded his claims a little friendlier, but he’s basically right. Laverne Cox is trans. Trans is “not a woman”. Trans is trans. It’s the LGBT community, not the LGBW community.

  • corvaspikenard

    @KDub: Legally Laverne is female, a woman. In some countries you can identify as neither male or female (NZ allows an ‘X’ on passports) but Laverne is definitely female on her legal documentation.

  • money718

    Two of my past sex partners made the transition, but for reason they couldn’t understand why I was no longer interested. Weird.

  • corvaspikenard

    For those interested, the article was removed and the Chicago Sun-Times offered this apology to GLAAD:

    “We try to present a range of views on an issue, not only those views we may agree with, but also those we don’t agree with. A recent op-ed piece we ran online that was produced by another publication initially struck as provocative. Upon further consideration, we concluded the essay did not include some key facts and its overall tone was not consistent with what we seek to publish. The column failed to acknowledge that the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have deemed transgender-related care medically necessary for transgender people. It failed as well to acknowledge the real and undeniable pain and discrimination felt by transgender people, who suffer from notably higher rates of depression and suicide. We have taken the post down and we apologize for the oversight.”

  • Nowuvedoneit

    @corvaspikenard: Why do they have to apologize to GLAAD? They should’ve apologized to Laverne.

  • corvaspikenard

    @Nowuvedoneit: GLAAD started the petition to have the offending article removed. But I agree, the author owes an apology to Laverne!

  • sweetbrandigirl2004

    @Kamuriie: Here’s the flaw in Mr Williams whole bigot rant he is talking about SEX and NOT “Gender Identity” so what someone biologic SEX was at birth really isn’t important nor does it have ANYTHING to do with Gender Identity. What he points out about sex is correct but someone gender Identity doesn’t depend upon what their Sex is or was at birth. When I walk up to someone and say hi they say hi back they don’t ask me what my Chromosomes are at birth they ask what my name is they recognize me as a women and thats how things work in our society. Ours is a visual society its about how one appears that matter not what ones chromosomes are. If someone realisticly looks to be of one gender and passes as that gender in society then NO ONES going to question they are of that gender or asks for a blood test to be sure.

  • aliengod

    @Kamuriie: Very well written response. I couldn’t agree more.

  • Nowuvedoneit

    Can I say that after all this brouhaha over [email protected] and it’s power, this guy managed to bring his hate and attitude forward without using any slurs. I think this debate has been settled there’s far more important things to fight than one word.

  • Nowuvedoneit

    Sorry to beat a dead horse.

  • michael mellor

    Transgenderism is a fetish. These are men with a fetish for boobs and long hair.

  • inbama

    @sweetbrandigirl2004: “… biologic SEX was at birth really isn’t important… “

    Do you think sex might be important to those thousands of Chinese girls who are abandoned to orphanages every year? To the mothers who are forced part with them?

    How about expectant mothers in India who are forced to abort their fetuses when an ultrasound shows the baby will be a girl?

    Might sex matter to the girls in Saudi Arabia who died horrible deaths because “Religious Police” would not allow them to flee a burning building improperly dressed? To the 200 girls kidnapped in Nigeria or those in Afghanistan and Pakistan who have had acid thrown in their faces for simply going to school?

    Does sex not matter to the 1 in 5 women raped in the USA?

    I fully support the right of trans people to live as they identify, but I’m sorry. The more I hear transfeminist politics, the crazier it sounds.

    How on earth did we get to the point where discussing a person’s sex become hate speech?

  • DerekR

    @michael mellor: Could you be more of an idiot?

  • sweetbrandigirl2004

    @inbama: What does ANY of your examples have to do with the conversation at hand ? A: NOTHING where NOT discussing SEX as it pertains to rape or abduction. God Talk about getting way of topic ! Geez Focus we’re talking about Sex as it [pertains to a persons Gender Identity and how they Identify in public in our society. I koan its hard for you but do your best to focus and keep up.

  • corvaspikenard

    @inbama: “The more I hear transfeminist politics, the crazier it sounds.”

    I think you’re referring to mainstream feminism in general, where ‘thin shaming’ and attacking ordinary bra shops for not making your size are far more important than the missing young women in Nigeria or the murder of female children in other countries.

    I’ve often noticed that the people who are actually feminists don’t tell you that they are feminists every other sentence…

Comments are closed.