Gender politics, reactions

Last week, Ms. Mary Kenah wrote a strongly worded letter to my editor expressing her discontent with my column regarding NPRÕs linguistic obfuscation during the Bradley Manning controversy.

Had she actually read my column, Ms. Kenah would have spared her criticism. The piece was an indictment of NPR, not transsexuals. I have come to accept as fait accompli that my critics will derive any meaningÑreal or imaginedÑfrom my columns to suit their ideological fancy.

I will, however, respond to her charges.

Ms. Kenah contends that I dismiss Òthe experiencesÑboth positive and negativeÑthat transexual individuals live through before, during, and after their transition,Ó and that this inevitably leads me to misunderstand Òthe experiences of someone [who is a transsexual].Ó

Her assertion is patently false. I had simply claimed that the armyÑand by extension, the taxpayersÑheld no duty to pay for Mr. ManningÕs sex-change operation. I have not dismissed any experiences. I simply made a plea for fiscally responsible government.

I also contended that genital mutilation and hormone therapy cannot supersede biology and genetics, which is fact, but Ms. Kenah asserts that my respect for what is known in the biological sciences is rooted in bigotry and ignorance.

Then, Ms. Kenah proclaimed that because I conflated the issues of sex and sexual-orientation, I am Òobviously under-educated when it comes to Ògender politics.Ó

Her accusation is deeply ironic: I did not conflate the issues of sex and sexual orientation out of categorical necessity. Rather, I reluctantly drew on the commonly used acronym, LGBTQA, that clumps these entities together.

Indeed, if Ms. Kenah takes issue with my grouping of sex and sexual orientation related differences, she should first save her criticism for the LGBTQA club on campus, which, she suggests, is also deeply Òunder-educatedÓ when it comes to gender politics, as they conflate, within one acronym, both sexual orientation (hence the ÒL,Ó ÒG,Ó and ÒBÓ) and sex (hence the ÒTÓ).

Though I hesitate to respond to the ad-hominem attack found at the bottom of Ms. KenahÕs letter, I feel compelled. Throwing around the word ÒbigotÓ does not strengthen an argument. It ends one.

To Ms. Kenah, homogeneity of thought cannot exist: If she cannot prove that my opinions are incorrect, she simply denounces me as intolerant and moves on, without further analysis.

To Ms. KenahÕs belief that I do not believe this ÒevolutionÓ of treatment for transsexuals to be legitimate, I concede that she is correct. At first, NPR was reluctant to refer to Mr. Manning using feminine pronouns.

The media organization announced that it would only do so once he received a sex-change operation. After having been berated for such a statement, NPR capitulatedÑor, as they would say, Òevolved.Ó