Froma Harrop: 'Women' shall not be erased
Efforts to burden women with silly labels are truly not helping the cause.
Last time most of us looked, "bodies with vaginas" could be more simply described as women. Same went for "pregnant people" and "birthing people." But transgender activists are insisting that the word "woman" be replaced with these more complicated descriptions.
The politics behind these demands -- and the submission to them by such mainstream organizations as the American Medical Association -- is counterproductive to the very people these language wars purport to help. Attention getting, yes, but it provides fresh material for right-wingers to make progressives look ridiculous.
Not that the activists care. The entertainment media, not the voters, are the ones to serve. And what bigger jackpot than to have the entertainment press cover in detail the trans fringe calling such gay-friendly figures as Bette Midler and the R&B star Macy Gray "TERFs" for defending the use of the word "woman." (You can look up TERF, as well as the babble of new pronouns being thrust upon the woke.)
The esteemed British medical journal, The Lancet, got sucked into the nonsense last year with a cover that referred to women as "bodies with vaginas." It later apologized.
A transgender man is someone who was assigned female sex at birth but identifies as a man. Such a person calls himself a man but has the equipment to make babies and require other gynecological care. Out of respect for transgender people, I'll call the labeling "his" business.
But in terms of the physical characteristics -- what's known as "gender expression" -- a trans man is a woman. It is accurate and also makes total sense in discussing such matters as pregnancy.
A Pew Research Center survey finds that only 1.6% of U.S. adults say they are transgender or nonbinary (don't identify as either male or female). The percentage of transgender people who identify as men is obviously smaller.
In a discussion on Slate of the term "pregnant people," a transgender participant seemed genuinely innocent of the politics involved.
"For the guys in Texas who are trying to restrict access to healthcare, as far as they are concerned, I'm a woman," Evan Urquhart writes. "So, their sexism is not going to be really careful about my gender identity."
Evan, not being careful about your gender identity is what gets the "guys" up in the morning. It forms part of their political identity and showers them with media coverage as well. So if you want a broader public to stop them from enacting cruel policies toward transgender high school kids, you might lay off the militant rewriting of the dictionary. Many otherwise sympathetic Americans don't care to be bullied. And they may resent being ordered to learn and adopt 20 or so new pronouns.
The activists' habit of tacking to their roster of their supporters Black, indigenous and other people of color, plus immigrants is presumptuous, to say the least. They haven't been consulted, and I'd wager that many on this list of imaginary allies are actually hostile to the mission.
I'm not, if the mission is to make the world a more accepting place for people with non-hetero identities. But no, I'm not going to refer to myself as "cisgender," a reference to people whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.
And there are lots of good women who don't care to be called "bodies with cervixes." These efforts to burden them with silly labels are truly not helping the cause. What the cause needs is sending more Democrats to Washington, and this does the opposite.
As for the uber-progressives, if Sen. Bernie Sanders can talk about "women" needing abortion, you can, too. You have permission.
Froma Harrop is a nationally syndicated columnist whose work appears regularly in the Grand Forks Herald.