Friday, June 12, 2009

Congratulations to Thomas Beattie In Spite of “The Views” Transphobia

Thomas recently gave birth to a baby boy.  Despite the fact that he and his wife Susan are leading happy lives, there are those that cannot seem to check their transphobia at the door.  Genitalia does not equal gender and to me that seems like a fairly easy concept to understand.  There is no need to write man in quotation marks when referring to Beattie because he is unequivocally a man, despite giving birth vaginally twice.

image This week my youngest actually surrendered the television to me during daytime hours and I decided to watch an episode of The View.  I would have been better off watching Barney than listening to their transphobic screed.  Sherrie, Whoopie, Joy and Elizabeth sat there comfortably in their chairs and declared Thomas a woman. 

Sherrie in particular was adamant that because Thomas still possessed a vagina that made him a woman.  Vagina equals woman, she stated emphatically and repeatedly.  Whoopie went on to confirm her statements by agreeing that because Thomas retained the ability to become pregnant, that he was indeed still female.

What these women fail to recognize is that the ability to declare has always been the prerogative of groups that exist with social power and therefore by labelling Thomas a woman, despite the fact that he has declared that he is male, they were expressing cisgender privilege and transphobic hate. None of these women are going to spend any significant time with Thomas and yet they felt empowered to deny him the right to determine for himself what gender he is able to live in.

Barbara was the only person who attempted to speak on Thomas’s behalf but she was shut down by the four other women.  Elizabeth seemed content to believe that if we caught a child attempting to subvert traditional gender roles at an early age and redirected their attention to the appropriate activities and toys, image that  they would learn to conform properly.  Nothing like raising a little automaton incapable of thinking for themselves, or expressing views that are inclusive and therefore essential for a progressive society. 

These so-called progressive women are more than happy to essentialize gender roles if it means oppressing someone that is not like them but you can rest assured that if it meant that they were forced to perform genderized work i.e. stay home and play good little wife while the husband works, you would hear an uproar.  Gender is not something to be trotted out for convenience and then tucked away when it is employed to hamper the ability of women to participate fully in society. 

image Joy claims to be a feminist and yet her position in this instance would necessarily mean that she is unsupportive of transwomen.  If she cannot recognize Beatties maleness then she would be unable to recognize a transwomans femaleness.  How does oppressing the trans community forward a feminist agenda in any way?  All it does is reify a hierarchy of bodies that we know to be damaging.

The women of The View may not have been able to express joy at Thomas’s ever expanding family, however I wish him and his wife Susan nothing but the best.  Gender never has been or ever will be a simple binary and the sooner that we accept that, the sooner families like the Beatties will be able to go about their lives without being demeaned or reduced. 

Today Thomas is the father of two. He eloquently stated, “I feel it's not a male or female desire to have a child. It's a human need. I'm a person and I have the right to have a biological child, We are a man, woman and child. It's ironic that we are so different but yet, we're just a family, just the same as anyone else."  It matters now how the family came to be existence, what matters is that they love each other unconditionally.