Transphobia Ad Absurdum
A few days ago, I watched the most recent episode of “I Am Jazz,” the reality show that follows the life of a teenage transgender girl. I have followed her career as a trans-rights activist for years now and am greatly impressed by what she and her whole family have done to support transgender children and their families. I have heard her and her mother Jeanette twice at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference and each time the sizeable auditorium was so packed that I had to stand in the back. But it was well worth it.
Few things have ever inspired me so much as the testimony of one young person after another telling of the endless difficulties in being a trans kid and of how valuable the example and support of Jazz Jennings has been to them. Given the alarming suicide rate among transgender teens, it is really likely that her encouragement has saved some of their lives.
The “I Am Jazz” episodes currently airing were recorded over a year ago, so after watching the one I saw last night I went on line to see if I could find out whether she has had any of the surgery she was considering at that time. I did not actually find the answer to that, because I was so intrigued by an article I ran across: “Jazz Jennings and the Zio Conspiracy of Transgender. The first question that popped into my mind was what on earth does “Zio” mean? When I went to the article on a site called “Red Ice,” I quickly found out. The conspiracy alluded to in the title is the alleged campaign by the “Zionist elites” to make the abnormal look normal. They are supposedly adding the transgender phenomenon to their list of bad things that nefarious liberals are trying to legitimize but that should be rejected as harmful aberrations. The list also includes homosexuality and radical feminism.
Although the link to a Jewish conspiracy makes this particular assault against transgender children and their families especially bizarre, in other ways it is quite typical. It is grounded quite firmly in a total ignorance of the difference between sex and gender. The author uses the words interchangeably. As a result, he considers it completely obvious that anyone born with male reproductive organs is a male and anyone born with female reproductive organs is a female. Just as it is obvious that people who think a biological boy can be a girl are living in a fantasy world that has no connection with reality. I find it rather ironic that people who believe that the whole transgender advocacy movement is a Jewish conspiracy accuse others of being out of touch with reality! But of course the reality is that sex and gender are two different things, the former being an objective physical fact and the latter being a subjective psychological sense of identity. The failure to understand the subjective part is what has caused transgender people to be so misunderstood, demeaned and mistreated for so long.
There is one part of the article’s argument that may be even farther fetched than the Zionist plot aspect, but that is also related to that aspect. The author states early on that although Jazz totally looks like a girl, according to her parents and herself she is biologically a boy.
But he questions even that! He actually suggests that she really is and always has been a girl and that in her case the whole transgender thing is an out-and-out hoax! Furthermore, she has been brought up from birth to participate in the lie. Why? Because the whole Jennings family are actors working with that nasty Zionist conspiracy. Furthermore, it is no coincidence that the debut of the “I Am Jazz” show occurred about the same time as Caitlin Jenner’s revelation of her own gender identity. The two events were coordinated years in advance by the conspirators. The simpler explanation would be just that it was obvious to everyone in the transgender movement that the public interest in the issue had suddenly reached critical mass and that the time was right to ramp up our message. That is, for example, why I stepped up work on my book “Woman Incognito,” the story of my own transgender experience, right around that same time.
Of course the resistance to equality and acceptance for transgender people is not the domain only of conspiracy buffs like the people at Red Ice. Anything but. They are simply the extremists who, like white nationalists, present the most outrageous face of a much broader segment of the population. What they have in common with many more typical Americans is a strong fear of something that seems to be threatening the established order of things. An order that, not coincidently, includes people like them. If respect for diversity is to replace the relatively narrow views of the world which they believe has served them well in the past, where will that leave them? I really do get it, but I am not willing to support the oppression of people who do not fit into an old worldview just to protect the privileged position of those who benefit from discriminatory traditions of the past. I will continue to work, not to oppress the traditionalists, but simply to promote freedom for everyone, regardless of gender identity, race, religion, class, or sexual orientation.