I have marveled this week at the level of distortion in straight news reporting about transgenderism. It all started with a report in The New York Times about the Trump administration’s plans to reverse an Obama-era directive. The distortion starts in the very first sentence of the report:
The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.
Let’s just fact-check this one sentence. How many claims are in error here? All of them.
1. The administration is not considering a new definition of “gender.” This is an error and needs to be retracted by The New York Times. The administration is actually considering how to undo something the Obama administration did in 2014. The Obama administration unilaterally changed the meaning of the word “sex” in federal statutes like Title IX, which prohibit discrimination based on “sex.” The statutes say nothing about gender.
2. This is not the “most drastic move yet” on the part of the government. The “most drastic move” was when the Obama administration unilaterally changed the meaning of the word “sex” in those statutes. President Obama decreed that the word “sex” was no longer a biological reality (as the framers of the law intended) but a psychological one. Obama made it so that “sex” would be treated as the same thing as gender identity. He rewrote the law by forcing the government to interpret the terms in ways that the framers did not intend. It was a radical, immoral move on the part of the Obama administration, but it wasn’t reported as such when it happened in 2014. The Trump administration is simply putting things back to where they were before 2014. That’s all. It’s not radical. It’s simply interpreting the law as it was meant to be interpreted.
3. Transgender people are not a protected class under federal law. President Obama tried to make them a protected class by redefining the terms, but the law actually doesn’t do that. Go read Title IX. You will find nothing about transgenderism in it. It’s just not there, and the Times ought to acknowledge that.
The New York Times report goes on conflating “sex” and “gender” as if they are synonyms. The author of the article doesn’t even seem to understand that there is a difference between the terms “sex” and “gender.” As a result, the report is a muddle of misinformation. That misinformation has been picked up and amplified by readers across the country as evidence of mistreating gender-confused persons. For example:
Grieving with our trans neighbors and siblings today. You are a blessing. Your body is a gift to this world. I pray you feel a sense of God’s love and delight in you today. And I hope you know millions of people are for you. https://t.co/SjcL4fwC4q
— Julie Rodgers (@Julie_rodgers) October 22, 2018
Transgenderism is not a body-affirming ideology. On the contrary, it’s a body-denying ideology. It says that there is something wrong with the body and that the body needs to be reshaped through destructive surgeries and hormone “therapies.” It harms bodies.
Likewise, recognizing the biological definition of “sex” in federal statutes is a body-affirming move. What the Obama administration did was a body-denying move, and now there is a chance that it might be undone.
It’s not inhumane or discriminatory to recognize the biological difference between male and female, which is what “sex” refers to in those statutes. This is not radical. What President Obama did was both radical and wrong. I’m grateful that this particular feature of the previous administration may be rolled-back.
The distorted propaganda surrounding transgenderism has corrupted straight news reporting on a scale that I have never seen before. These reports are remarkable for their unvarnished, unselfconscious inaccuracy. When it comes to transgenderism, there is so much irrationality masquerading as straight news. It is a testimony to the power of their bias that reporters cannot detect their own inconsistencies.