This week Kevin Williamson of National Review stepped into the LGBT buzz saw for the crime of believing that a person with XY chromosomes is a man and not a woman.
He has been castigated in the gay press, mocked in the gay-sympathetic press, and has received calls for him to be “fired” from a big-city newspaper where he doesn’t even work.
Williamson, former Deputy Managing Editor at NR and frequent contributor to National Review Online, wrote a piece called “Laverne Cox Is Not a Woman.” It is something of companion piece to one he published last year called “Bradley Manning Is Not a Woman.”
Laverne Cox, a transgender actor with a role on the hit Netflix prison drama Orange Is the New Black, recently was featured in a Time magazine cover story on gender identity in America.
Williamson finds all this puzzling and annoying.
Williamson says gender was created in modern times as a way around the concreteness of sex and “is simply the mystical exercise in rearranging words to rearrange reality.”
He says, “Regardless of the question of whether he has had his genitals amputated, Cox is not a woman, but an effigy of a woman. Sex is biological reality, and it is not subordinate to subjective impressions, no matter how intense those impressions are held, or how painful they make facing the biological facts of life. No hormone injection or surgical mutilation is sufficient to change that.”
The media backlash seems to have started in earnest with the syndication of the column by the Chicago Sun Times. A swift chorus of outrage from groups such as GLAAD prompted the Times to back down almost immediately, removing the column and apologizing.
Others joined in.
Matt Wilstein of Mediaite writes that on the point of Cox not being a woman, “…Williamson is right. Cox is not a ‘woman’ in the narrow, traditional sense that he is capable of comprehending. But nor is she a ‘man’ in the way he insists on describing her throughout his intentionally offensive screed…”
Somebody at TheFrisky.com wants you to know: “Conservative National Review Asshat Declares ‘Laverne Cox is Not a Women’ Is Very Wrong.” Jessica Wakeman writes, “Why anyone cares what Williamson–whose job is simply ‘roving correspondent’ for the Review–has to say about transgender issues, I don’t know. But his piece–which we will not link to so as not to give it traffic–was so full of ignorant pseudoscience and bias that it couldn’t help but attract (mostly negative) attention.” She says Williamson “misgenders” Cox by calling him “him,” “he,” and “spokesman.”
Richard Lawson, writing in Vanity Fair, called Williamson a “conservative troll” and refers to his “ugly, buffoonish way” of refusing “to address Cox and Chelsea Manning by their preferred pronouns.” He calls it a “babyish bit of stinkery” from a “noted stinker.”
A website called “Lexie Cannes State of Trans” calls Williamson a “transphobe extraordinaire” and his piece a “bloody hit piece.” In the link to Williamson’s piece, Lexie Cannes provides a “trigger warning.”
Slate‘s Mark Joseph Stern says, “Humans are hard wired for empathy, which means we are prone to treat other people’s struggles with compassion and sympathy. This rule, however, doesn’t apply when the other people in question can be made to seem disordered, disgusting, and inhuman.” He calls Williamson’s piece “a strangely angry hatchet job…”
Last August Williamson wrote a far stronger piece about Bradley Manning in which he pointed out the linguistic gymnastics transgenderism invites us to perform. He mentions a 2013 case brought by the Department of Justice against a California school district for “sex discrimination” because they would not let a girl use the boy’s room. However, the case was not really about sex, which is a protected category, but about “gender identity.”
In that article Williamson quoted at length from Dr. Paul McHugh, former longtime head of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University who famously closed the pioneering sex change unit at Johns Hopkins. McHugh said, “It is not obvious how [a patient’s] feeling that he is trapped in a man’s body differs from the feeling of a patient with anorexia nervosa that she is obese despite her emaciated, cachectic state. We don’t do liposuction on anorexics. Why amputate the genitals of these poor men? Surely, the fault is in the mind, not the member.”
Williamson is unrepentant. He told Breitbart News he is preparing a much longer article, now running to 12,000 words, tentatively titled “Alcoholism is a Sexual Orientation.”
He says doctors should not agree to perform sex change operations but makes clear he’s not calling for any laws against it. He says, “If this kind of thing were going on in a non-technological world, it would be treated like genital mutilation.” He calls such surgery “unethical.”
He says, “However strongly one feels about [transgenderism] emotionally, ethically, or politically, reality is reality; a man can never be a woman.”