14 December 2014

She Can See What He Can't

Until now, I had never heard of Rod Liddle.  Having heard of him, I'm glad an ocean separates him from me.

He's an associate editor of The Spectator (UK) and the former editor of the BBC 4 radio program Today.  Apparently, he has a reputation for making incendiary or simply outrageous comments because, well, he can. 

It's ironic that the British press has more of a "no holds barred" policy than its counterpart in US, which prides itself as a bastion of free speech.  Whatever the laws or policies, I defend anyone's right to express an opinion, no matter how much I disagree with it. 

However, I won't defend someone who makes personal attacks, whether they are motivated by hate or simply by ignorance.  Liddle's comment about Emily Brothers falls into that category.

Ms. Brothers recently came out as transgender, just as she was beginning a campaign that she hopes will lead to her becoming a Member of Parliament.  That makes her the Labour Party's first transgender candidate to run for a seat in Westminster--and, quite possibly, the first blind transgender candidate to run for a major public office anywhere.

Instead of being a good British gentleman and congratulating her, even if he disagrees with her politics, Mr. Liddle instead decided to display his ignorance or mean-spiritedness:  "[B]eing blind, how did she know she was the wrong sex?"

To paraphrase someone who responded to Mr. Liddle:  When he's in a dark room, how does he know he's a man?  He, like every other man in the world, cis- or trans-gender, knows he's a man whether or not he can see himself.  The same goes for every woman in the world:  We know what we are, whether or not we can see our genitalia or any other part of our body.

And that is exactly the point:  Those of us who know we're not of the sex we were assigned at birth...well, we just know.  In other words, to (perhaps over-) simplify what we know about gender:  It's in the mind and spirit. 

Ms. Brothers did not have to look in the mirror to know. But she sees well enough to know that while she wasn't bothered by Mr. Liddle's comments, other trans people (in particular, the young) might be.  So, instead of denouncing him, she's called on him to have the "good grace" to apologize and retract his comment.

Here's Emily Brothers at a Labour conference in September:

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