Transphobia Is Alive and Well at Fox News

Fox's Erick Erickson tweeted, "If you have an X and a Y, you're a guy. It's biology," and, "The amount of energy invested in the left to treat the sex of a person as different from their gender is sad.  They're the same thing," and shows off ignorance and transphobia of the right.

His inability to distinguish between sex and gender is not an uncommon.

Sex is the physical body into which you are born, usually designated male or female. Gender, however, is the social presentation of traits that are identified as masculine or feminine.  Gender can be chosen, and a physical man can present as female social through dress and style, just as a physical female can dress and style as more masculine.  Gender exists on a spectrum, whereas sex binary, and then a genitally or genetically indeterminate as well.

The majority is the majority for a reason, and the majority of people are born female or male, and that’s that.

However, for the minority that is born with conflicting sex and gender, life can be painful.  It's not just that it takes a huge amount of strength to even tell people that you have been assigned the wrong sex at birth in the first place. But then to make a massive transition— one that usually involves hormone shots, finding appropriate clothing, changing your hair, and remaking your entire life to become the person you truly know you are — is also extremely difficult.

I’m female. I am biologically a woman, and I know that. But I have spent significant time contemplating what it would be like to know otherwise, despite my breasts, curves, short stature, ovaries, uterus, and female-shaped pelvis and face. 

What if I were assigned the wrong gender at birth? It would be hell. It's not something that one would choose. It's deeper than that; it's innate, and unquenchable — the drive to be the person you're supposed to be.

Erickson’s first mistake is thinking that there are only two biological sexes. True, most people are born male or female with either XY chromosomes or or XX chromosomes.  But there are many variations —XXYY, or XXX, for example — that create different hormonal influences on the individual. Sometimes biology gives a person more than they expect, and each combination produces certain characteristics that can influence both appearance and gender.

Gender is fluid. It’s how we feel, how we show ourselves to the outside world. As in the case of Don (Dawn) Ennis of ABC news, gender resides in the brain, and if the brain is affected by internal or external influences, the gender of the person can shift.

However, this is not truly the problem with Erickson’s statements. The problem is the lack of respect. Whether you agree or disagree with the choices trans people make, it remains vital to respect them and their right to their own choices and control over their bodies. 

One question always comes to mind when I am exposed to phobias or hatred: Why does the phobic person care so much? After all, others choices are not effecting their own bodily integrity. What difference does it make if Don Ennis is Dawn Ennis, or a person with an XY chromosomal pair wants to wear skirts and makeup and a person with an XX chromosomal pair wants to wear a suit and tie? 

I think it belies a deep underlying hatred or fear of what's different. When you hate or fear something, you can’t show it any respect. Not even the respect that is due to another human being, walking this earth, breathing and eating and loving the same as anyone else.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Rebecca Gibson

Rebecca Gibson is graduating from Brandeis University with an MA in Women's and Gender Studies and Anthropology. Her major interests include LGBTQ rights, Victorian corsetry, osteology, archaeology, and marriage equality. She has taught, edited, and written for various university publications.

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