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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

This Is Not Fox News

TW: Transphobia, sexism, psychiatric abuse, cissupremacy, homophobia, reparative therapy.

  Barbara Kay is a noted right-wing columnist who is currently in the employ of Canada's National Post. Her often grammatically challenged rants challenge the reader's emotions; comforting the Caucasians and inspiring nervousness in everyone else. Her articles have been called racist, anti-feminist, Islamophobic, and more, and today she has added universally appalling to the list.

  Her piece, titled Sex and the Troubled Mind, is her grand opinion piece on transgender and nonbinary individuals. It makes the reader feel uncomfortably, uses mispronouning throughout, and presents a discredited doctor's opinions as fact.

I further warn you that the italicized excerpts are not words of my own and may trigger some people.

It’s not every day a man has a baby. Which is why Neil Hope and “his” baby are in the news. Neil Hope, now 37, is a transsexual female who underwent gender-reassignment surgery in his 20s, but left her uterus intact. With the help of artificial insemination, Hope conceived a baby and gave birth last year. This case is unusual, to be sure, but it has naturally inspired questions about the ethical limits of assisted-reproductive technology.


Note the quotation marks around his, which is the beginning of a tirade designed to make the reader believe that transgender men are not male. Also, Mr. Hope is a transgender man, and do notice the segue from his 20s to her uterus. Ms. Kay then states that her article is supposed to be about reproductive technology, failing to warn the reader that it is really a prescriptivist transphobic rant.


Transgenderism and its social implications is a hot topic these days. Recently Toronto and the world were abuzz with the story of a 4-month old baby whose sex was being kept a secret from everyone but the immediate family. In related news, a school in Sweden dropped all references to sex in its nomenclature, and was offering children only sex-neutral toys (dolls yes, trucks no – this is the new “neutral” amongst social constructionists).


Grammatical error: it should be are a hot topic. Ms. Kay also feels that refusal to conform to her ideas about gender is evidence of a trans takeover.


In the old days, it would have been quite acceptable to call Neil Hope’s bizarre experiment freakish, not only in the literal dictionary sense – “a very unusual and unexpected event” – but as an assessment of the psychological state of the individual behind the decision. Many people will still identify the act and the person as freakish, but behind closed doors. It has become politically incorrect to suggest that transgenderism or transsexualism is anything more than an alternate lifestyle, perfectly healthy just as all other sexualities are. Moreover, to think otherwise, to think that transgenderism is a medical problem, say, is to be guilty of heteronormativism. In the new parlance, “normal” is not how people are born biologically, it is whatever they think they are. Slotting people into binary roles – male, female – merely on the basis of genitalia is to be a narrow, intolerant rigidly socially constructivist.


In the good old days, trans folks were freaks, disturbed people who had chosen to live in a psychologically disturbed state. Critics of this philosophy are now victims of political correctness.
That is certainly Neil Hope’s take on his/her situation. He/she says: “Trans people make amazing parents, the same way they make amazing children and they make amazing siblings and husbands and wives.” No suggestion here that believing you were born in the wrong body is in any sense a tragedy, or something one might wish to seek psychiatric help for. It’s all good!
Barbara Kay continues to further reinforce the denial of autonomy in trans people by using his/hers, and subsequently takes a stab at the mental health of law-abiding transgender individuals.
The reality is that we know very little about what drives the desire to be the other sex. Sex is an objective reality. But “gender identity” is a subjective condition – an attitude towards oneself that may externalize itself in behaviours like cross-dressing as its self-expression. It is a phenomenon scientists know little about, and they should have the right to explore it without being intimidated by the sexual relativists who have thus far commandeered discussion around it.
Psychologists must have free reign over the correction of these people who are victimizing the poor social constructionists.
In the November, 2004 issue of First Things Magazine, Dr. Paul McHugh, psychiatrist-in-chief at John Hopkins University, wrote an interesting account of his university’s adventures in sex reassignment surgery. He interviewed many men before their surgery (most cases of sex reassignment are male to female). He says they spent a lot of time talking about sex and their sexual experiences, which preoccupied them. Many of them claimed to be “lesbians,” who found women sexually attractive. And – a telling detail – “discussion of babies or children provoked little interest from them; indeed, they seemed indifferent to children.”
Ms. Kay refers to whom she believes are trans women as men. It's also known now that many of the people Dr. McHugh interviewed did not have gender-confirming surgery and were drag queens or cross-dressers. In fact, they weren't even patients, but were paid for their input. Included is the erroneous claim that the majority of "cases" are in people assigned male at birth. Naturally, these perverts also don't like children.
Dr. Hughes wanted to know more about his patients. He wanted to test the claim that sex change would solve the patient’s suffering, and that changing genitalia allows the individual to settle easily into the new role, i.e. he wanted to know whether gender really is merely the result of cultural shaping.
Kay begins addressing Dr. McHugh as Dr. Hughes for no apparent reason, a trend that continues throughout the remainder of the editorial. It must be noted that Dr. McHugh's supposed research was proven fraudulent and has been universally debunked. Also, the author and the debunked doc confuse sexual fetishism and internalized homophobia with gender identity, something Barbara Kay uses to confuse the reader.
When his team started tracking their sex-changed patients, they found that few regretted the change, but “in every other respect, they were little changed in their psychological condition. They had much the same problems with relationships, work and emotions as before.”
Naturally, people who have taken years to confirm their identity are happy with it, but it's not a life transplant. 
Dr. Hughes and his team ultimately decided to stop doing the sex reassignment surgeries. Their conclusion was “that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness. We psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia.” Instead of pretending that a “man” having a baby is something to celebrate, we should lend our efforts to research that will lead to a cure for this terribly sad psychological problem.
Barbara Kay concludes her diatribe by stating that transgender people should be forced into psychiatric care and cured of what she views as a treatable affliction.

Canada prides herself on being a decent nation, full of a diverse array of folks that generally live in a cooperative and inclusive manner, but there are exceptions, and Barbara Kay is there to serve the petrified ultra-right wing. She is part of a machine that has no desire to learn, but yearns for control of those not her. The Conservative rise in Canada ensures that Orwellian preachers like Ms. Kay continue to live in their upper middle class enclaves, safe from blacks and the poor and anyone whom they deem too freaky.To step out of line is to warrant involuntary medical experimentation in Barbara Kay's world, an enigma so paranoid and exclusionary that Wyndham couldn't have imagined it.

While our American friends were cheering the suspension of a CNN anchor for a few sports tweets, Barbara Kay was writing a manifesto that was read by a million people or more. Her expressions are not vague; it's not a few words of sissy-shaming. Thousands of characters to tell the nation to hate their neighbours, to spread falsehoods, to call for the forced medical treatment of people just so she doesn't have to read about a person she has never met having a family that's not really much different from her own. Eugenics in the name of normalcy. This isn't 1920's Virginia, 1960's Mississippi, or even Fox News. This is Canada, the True North Strong and Free; a place that honours liberty but penalizes bigotry. Barbara Kay's bosses need to know that hate against one citizen impacts us all - it punishes those who are already oppressed and weakens our unity as a people.

Barbara Kay wrote her piece to turn people against her fellow citizens; to prescribe and divide. From Muslims to women to the gender-variant, she thinks we're all soft targets ripe for ridicule. It's high time that the National Post and Barbara Kay become aware that transgender people are not objects for entertainment and research value.

To petition the National Post to suspend or fire Barbara Kay for her continued attacks on marginalized populations, click here 

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