Jenn[d]er and Other Confusions

Bruce Jenner’s decision to take hormone treatment, wear a wig, call himself Caitlyn, get tarted up and pose in a corset for the cover of Vanity Fair has created a media avalanche, despite the fact that transgendered folk make up a truly small percentage of Americans. It’s been estimated that 700,000 or 0.03 percent of Americans are transgendered and most but not all of these are what’s called transitioning to another sex.

If this confuses you, it’s because the terms “gender” and “sex” have themselves been undergoing transition, as Grammarist explains:  

Gender was traditionally used mainly in grammar, language, and linguistics contexts to refer to the sex assigned to nouns (especially in non-English languages). For example, the gender of the French noun maison (house) is feminine, while the gender of livre (book) is masculine. Words of the same gender tend to have similar endings, and they affect the forms of some of the surrounding words. Sex, meanwhile, was traditionally the term for males or females viewed as a group.

In recent decades, the meaning of sex has narrowed, and the word is now mainly confined to uses having to do with sexual intercourse and sexual organs. Gender, meanwhile, is increasingly used to refer to a person’s maleness or femaleness. For instance, we tend to say that a boy’s gender is male and a girl’s gender is female. Of course, the term is more complicated than that, and gender identity is not always tied to one’s sex organs. This at least partially explains why gender is now preferred in this extended use; gender denotes identity, which can be fluid and complicated, whereas what sex organs one has is pretty straightforward.

Sex is still sometimes used in its traditional senses. No one considers it wrong, but it tends to give way to gender for the reasons mentioned above and also because gender is considered more appropriate in contexts where sex and sexuality are not to be brought up. 

With the greater acceptance of gender fluidity and availability of surgery to add something or subtract something external (genital reconstruction and breast implantations), many jurisdictions have included transgenders as a protected class in laws against various kinds of discrimination .A whole army of helpers for pay have not surprisingly also arrived on the scene. The Washington Post style section notes that in addition to lawyers and surgeons who work with transgenders there are voice coaches, therapists, and feminine-image consultants, voice and hair-removal specialists.

The Motherless Child (Radical Feminists versus Transmen)

Female transgenders who have undergone such surgery are called transmen. Male transgenders who have are called transwomen. (Figures are sketchy but there are about 3 times more transwomen than transmen.)

In either case they have only the new outward appearance of the opposite sex, none of the internal workings  of the opposite sex. Transmen, that is women who have adopted a male identity and undergone hormone and surgical treatments to alter their appearance, still have the internal equipment they were born with and on rare occasions -- perhaps 41 -- with another switch in hormone treatments have been able to give birth, Transwomen never can. 

All of this makes the statement of the Nation’s Michelle Goldberg quoting young radical feminists utterly ludicrous. On “All In With Chris Hayes” this week, she said:

...that many young feminists "no longer want to use the word 'woman' in relation to abortion because it excludes trans men." There's a lot of "conceptual murk to clear away," she added with admirable understatement, "but among younger people that I've talked to, it almost seems amazing to them that anybody would question the need to have gender-neutral language."

Her colleague at the magazine Katha Pollitt argues strongly against the young feminists:

The primary sources of abortion data in the US -- the CDC and the Guttmacher Institute -- don’t collect information on the gender identity of those who seek abortion, but conversations with abortion providers and others suggest the number of transgender men who want to end a pregnancy is very low. I don’t see how it denies “the existence and humanity of trans people” to use language that describes the vast majority of those who seek to end a pregnancy. Why can’t references to people who don’t identify as women simply be added to references to women? After all, every year over 2,000 men get breast cancer and over 400 die, and no one is calling for “women” to be cut out of breast-cancer language so that men will feel more comfortable seeking treatment. If there was such a call, though, I wonder what would happen. Women have such a long history of minimizing themselves in order not to hurt feelings or seem self-promoting or attention-demanding. We are raised to put ourselves second, and too often, still, we do.

Maybe like the People’s Front of Judea dolts in Monty Python’s The Life of Brian the young feminists should all just agree that while men actually can’t have babies no matter their outward appearance, as a symbolic move “against oppression”, these men have the right to have babies or abort the ones they can’t actually have.


B. Elsewhere in Media and Administration Silliness

Meanwhile, the media is ignoring issues of far greater consequence and otherwise beclowning themselves.

1) Relishing Being a Beheading Target

CNN’s Erin Burnett interviewed Pamela Geller after it was learned that she was the initial target of the man who tried to behead a Boston cop. 


Referring to the Draw Mohammed contest Geller sponsored (of course Burnett used the honorific “The Prophet Mohammed” though she certainly would never refer to the Prophet Moses or the “Savior Christ”) she asked: “Do you on some level relish being the target of these attacks?”

Geller responded to this absurd question, “Relish being the target? Who self-promotes to get killed?” She said she has recruited an “an army of security” for protection and criticized the media for siding with “those that would target me.”

2) Paying Illegal Immigrants Tax Refunds for Taxes They Didn’t Pay

Instapundit brings to our attention something the media is too busy with transgender abortions and aides to note:

EXECUTIVE AMNESTY WITH BENEFITS: The IRS has confirmed to Congress that individuals granted amnesty by President Obama’s unilateral lawmaking ”executive action” will indeed qualify for a refund of back taxes, even if they never filed a tax return:

IRS lawyers have ruled that once illegal immigrants get numbers, they can go back and re-file for up to three previous years’ taxes and claim refunds even for time they were working illegally.

The lawyers said since the EITC is a refundable credit, that’s allowed even when the illegal immigrants worked off the books and never paid taxes in the first place.

Terrific -- so the President can take executive action that not only transforms individuals whom our law classifies as “deportable” into “not deportable,” he can simultaneously confer upon them multiple benefits, including work permits and now, tax refunds, which will be funded by law-abiding individuals who are present in the country legally.

The conferral of benefits -- now even more significant than previously believed -- is a key indicator that President Obama’s executive actions on illegal immigration are not, in fact, mere “prosecutorial discretion,” as he asserts.  Prosecutorial discretion allows the executive branch to prioritize enforcement given the reality of limited resources; it does not grant the executive branch authority to go further and grant benefits to lawbreakers.

3) TSA Continues to Foul Up

Last week even though I passed a security clearance for a global entry pass I was prohibited by TSA from bringing a circular thread cutter onboard or a stick blender, neither of which I can figure out how to weaponize. On the other hand, the Transportation Security Administration failed to stop undercover agents in 67 out of 70 recent probes of TSA screening. These agents carried fake weapons through checkpoints at major airports across the country and were not stopped.

4) Harvard Law Professor and the Atlantic Illustrate Foggy Thinking

James Taranto brings to our attention the befuddled thinking of Cambridge’s finest:

Try not to laugh, but Lawrence Lessig thinks inevitable Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would be a great “champion” for abolishing political corruption by way of “campaign-finance reform.” Writing for the Atlantic, the Harvard law prof argues in the spirit of the old Vulcan proverb: “Only Nixon can go to China.”

5) Time Magazine’s Miss Piggy Editorial

Perhaps inspired by the very well-paid Chelsea Clinton, known for her hard hitting interview with the Geico gecko, Time ran an op-ed by the Muppets’ Miss Piggy entitled “Why I am a Feminist Pig”. Maybe next week they’ll interview her on whether trans men should be included in the abortion debate.

6. The New York Times and the Rubios’ Traffic Tickets

Undoubtedly as important to them as the never-ending Clinton Foundation payoff scandals and record destruction or the administration stonewalling on the IRS targeting of administration critics and political opponents, the paper assigned three people -- Alan Rappeport, Steve Eder, and Kitty Bennett -- to report on Marco Rubio and his wife’s traffic infractions since 1993. (He had all of 4, his wife had more.) Worse than giving space to such nonsense it turns out that they got the story from Clinton opposition researchers and then, when caught out megaphoning them, pretended they’d dug this up themselves. 

As Mollie Hemingway notes:

"In order to make this hit on Rubio work, [the] reporters


had to combine Marco Rubio’s driving record with someone who is not Marco Rubio. Namely, his wife.

This would be like claiming that Hillary Clinton and her husband had sexually assaulted numerous women. I mean, it’s true in one sense, but it’s a totally weird thing to group together."

7) Elsewhere in the real world

In case you find what the media covers distracting and idiotic, here are some of the many matters that really should be of concern.

1. The Iranians are spreading their tentacles into Saudi Arabia, which is now in the middle of a sectarian war.

2. ISIS is expanding its reach and we have no plan to stop the contagion.

We should begin with a total economic blockade on ISIS-controlled areas, notifying all governments that the United States will cut off economic intercourse with any country from whose jurisdiction persons or goods reach ISIS, or within which any ISIS-related financial transactions occur. Air patrols over the desert access routes can finish starving the cutthroats as a U.S. expeditionary force moves in around them. Never again must Americans be sacrificed in house-to-house fighting. Artillery and bombs from B-52s should do the bulk of the killing. The expeditionary force would finish off survivors. No prisoners. The Geneva Convention does not apply to pirates or cutthroats.

U.S. forces should come home quicker than they left, having minded our business by showing what happens to those who harm America.

3. Iran Continues to Ignore its Obligations and the Administration Doesn’t Care

In one of his many emails for The Israel Project Omri Ceren notes that Iran is increasing its enriched uranium stocks and the administration is laughing this off: 

On a policy level, the ISIS analysis emphasizes that Iran's refusal to meet its obligations "show the risk posed by relying on technical solutions that have not yet been demonstrated by Iran." Tehran is under sanctions and in the middle of negotiations -- and still can't be relied upon. The risks of Iranian intransigence post-sanctions relief are straightforward.

Politically, observers may worry about the seriousness with which the Obama administration will take Iranian violations of the future nuclear deal, given that they're literally laughing off concerns of current Iranian cheating that one of the world's best experts says are “legitimate questions” .

4. The Feds Still Have Insecure Data Storage And Critical Information Continues to Be Stolen

Chinese hackers seem to have hacked into Interior Department Office of Personnel management records and stolen three decades of security clearance information (including that of intelligence agents), this is the second known hack of federal records in recent years and though it occurred in December this major security breach was not discovered until April