By Cliff Kincaid
An article on a left-wing website called AlterNet carries the title: “What My Female-Born Transgender Autistic Brother Can Teach You About How We Construct Our Identities.” This may be the next phase in the campaign for transgender rights. Perhaps it will be the next reality show, following Bruce Jenner’s.
I understand that the politically correct response is to consider this article in a serious manner and perhaps contemplate the dire circumstances of the subject of the piece. But my honest reaction is that the story must either be a hoax or something so out-of-touch with reality that it can’t, or shouldn’t, be taken seriously. Even worse, it may be exploitation of a disturbed young person, if the person in the article actually exists.
The notion that a person constructs his or her own sexual identity is something at complete variance with genetic and biological reality. Somebody “constructing” a sexual identity doesn’t actually change one’s DNA. This basic science is something that is being conveniently lost in this national discussion.
I have concluded that the Bruce Jenner ABC interview was either a hoax or a sham. Please recall that Jenner laughed when asked by Diane Sawyer whether it was a publicity stunt. But then we learned that Jenner will star in his own “docuseries” for the E! network “chronicling his life as a transgender woman.” Hollywood Reporter said, “The eight-part project, documenting his life as a transgender woman, will premiere in July.”
The publication said the series will be produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, which is also responsible for “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” Married three times with six biological children, Jenner divorced his wife, the “Kardashian matriarch” Kris Jenner, after nearly 20 years of marriage. Jenner will be one of the executive producers of his own reality show.
The Hollywood Reporter said that individuals who will be consulted on the production of the series include Jennifer Finney Boylan. She is the Anna Quindlen writer in residence and professor of English at Barnard College of Columbia University, a national co-chair and member of the board of directors of GLAAD, and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times.
This makes it sound like some kind of pseudo-documentary with a scientific veneer. Plus, The New York Times connection has been thrown in, giving the appearance of some form of approval or sanction by this major liberal paper.
Pardon me if I don’t buy it. It sounds like the series was being contemplated at the same time Jenner was telling ABC that his interview was not a publicity stunt.
Jenner was said to be coming out as a woman but still wants to be referred to as a “he” or “him.” The always politically-correct BuzzFeed informs us that “Since Jenner has not expressed a preference for female pronouns and Jenner’s publicist declined to comment on the question, this story uses male pronouns.” Well, that solves that.
Perhaps, during week four of the new reality show, he will suddenly announce he wants to be addressed as “she.” Or, perhaps, he will decide he wants to remain as a man.
I almost laughed myself silly when he “came out” as a conservative Christian Republican. By that same standard, I am a transgendered communist.
I think Jenner and his Reality TV cohorts are laughing all the way to the bank. Some long hair and changes in facial features do not a woman make.
The results are in. “Bruce Jenner interview scores big ratings,” reports USA Today. “Bruce Jenner’s much-hyped interview with Diane Sawyer brought ABC’S 20/20 its biggest audience in 15 years and the most-watched Friday program (excluding sports) since 2003…”
The insightful Judi McLeod at Canada Free Press notes that Jenner’s “deeply personal” story, as it is being advertised, is going on Reality TV, hardly a deeply personal vehicle for such a deeply personal story. Doesn’t this make one suspicious of what this publicity is all about? Have we suspended our ability to think rationally just because someone is claiming to be a brand new sexual minority?
McLeod gets to the heart of the issue, commenting, “Whether he wears high heels or not, Jenner’s still what his Creator made him—a guy.”
That’s the reality. Or, rather, the actual or “real” reality. But Biblical values, which happen to correspond to science and biological facts of life in this case, are not, of course, relevant, as the media constantly inform us.
If the Jenner show succeeds, I can imagine that the AlterNet writer’s “transgender autistic brother” might be the next sexual minority to be given a reality show so he/she can teach us all about how we can construct our own sexual identities. “More than simply being clear about their gender identity, it is possible that people on the autism spectrum, less inhibited by social constructs, are able to conceptualize gender fluidity in a way that neuro-typical people are not,” she writes. That’s an important revelation, I suppose.
So that’s next: a show featuring people with autism defining and then constructing their own sexual identities, so we can learn from them. It would constitute media exploitation and sensationalism of the worst order.
I’d be laughing harder if this tendency to exploit people were not so sick and twisted. I am always amazed at how the bottom of the barrel gets lower and lower. In this case, we have not yet hit the bottom.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org