Democracy Has Prevailed.

June 4, 2015

Geez Jennifer, I Know You're New Here But This Is Kinda Harsh, Isn't It?

There's a new columnist at the Post-Gazette, these days and this is how the P-G describes her:
Jennifer Graham is a veteran journalist who has written for The Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal and national magazines. She previously worked as a columnist, reporter and copy editor for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., and she was a press secretary and speechwriter for the South Carolina attorney general.

Ms. Graham, the mother of four, is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and was a fellow at the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism at College Park, Md. In addition to eight years in Boston, she has lived in Charleston, S.C.; Charlotte, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; Washington D.C. and Westchester County, N.Y.
Her first column (or at least the earliest I could find at the P-G website) is an odd piece of work discussing the changing ethics of flogging horses in horse racing all while framing it in a necessary denunciation of the flogging, in Saudi Arabia, of the blogger Raif Badawi.

But her second column, holy crap that's one piece of mean.

I gotta start with her opening:
Bruce Jenner, hunky Olympian turned femme fatale, is the elephant in the room for conservatives, and that’s not speaking figuratively. [Italics in original]
As loathe as I am to correct the rhetorical flourishes of someone so new to our three-rivered shores, let me say that as the phrase "elephant in the room" is a metaphor for an uncomfortable topic that no one wants to discuss and furthermore as there is no literal elephant in any sort of literal room here, it turns out that she is speaking figuratively.  She's certainly not speaking literally, right?

Perhaps I am making too much of this, but I am surprised that a professional writer wouldn't catch the difference.  I know I'm not a professional writer or anything but even I know the difference between the literal and figurative.

But let's move on to Jennifer's mean.
Bruce, now Caitlyn, identifies as both a woman and a Republican, flummoxing would-be critics in the GOP who will need every vote in 2016. Since the Vanity Fair cover emerged with Mr. Jenner’s new, womanly visage, they have been mostly quiet, save for Fox News host Neil Cavuto, who growled on air, “Rome. Final days. But that’s fine.”

Actually, it’s not fine for many Americans, who view gender dysphoria as a psychiatric disorder, not a laudable lifestyle choice. To them, the Annie Leibovitz depiction of a beguiling Caitlyn in a corset, legs coyly crossed, arms tucked behind her as if bound, is a Photoshopped finger in the face. Worse, they — unlike Mr. Jenner — are forbidden authenticity of response. Faced with the omnipresent image of a person who is female from the waist up, male from the belly button down, they are ridiculed as bigots if they suggest, in the quietest of voices, that such a person would have headlined the tragic freak shows in carnivals of old.
Oh, I think Graham's authentic response is clear and freely given.  Here's what she wants to say to you:  Pittsburghers, meet Caitlyn Bruce Jenner - a "hunky Olympian turned femme fatale" who would have been headliner of carnival freak shows the world over were it not for those who (wrongly) think that gender dysphoria is a laudable lifestyle choice.

What she doesn't want is for someone (like me, perhaps) to call her on it.

Let's first look at Graham's misuse of the term "gender dysphoria."  The American Psychiatric Association had this to say about it:
[Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)] aims to avoid stigma and ensure clinical care for individuals who see and feel themselves to be a different gender than their assigned gender. It replaces the diagnostic name “gender identity disorder” with “gender dysphoria,” as well as makes other important clarifications in the criteria. It is important to note that gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder. The critical element of gender dysphoria is the presence of clinically significant distress associated with the condition. [Emphasis added.]
I'm no mental health expert but it looks to me, based on the above, that if someone has come to terms with their "gender nonconformity" and no longer suffers from "clinically significant stress" related to that nonconformity, then they no longer suffer from "gender dysphoria."

So where could this stress come from, I'd probably ask.  Perhaps it's from (at least partially) those who'd insist on an old limited set of criteria for gender.  And those who insisting on that set, shame gender nonconformists by not publicly recognizing their gender.

Who's giving the middle finger to whom, Jenny?

So why is this a big deal?  Why would it be a big deal for a former Olympic gold medalist, Wheaties Box portraited, John Belushi parodied, very prominent person to come out as trans?

Consider this:
A whopping 41% of people who are transgender or gender-nonconforming have attempted suicide sometime in their lives, nearly nine times the national average, according to a sweeping survey released three years ago.

In a new study released Tuesday, researchers dug deeper into that number, analyzing the results of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey to examine what puts transgender people at such "exceptionally high" risk.

Researchers from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that the risk of attempting suicide was especially severe for transgender or gender nonconforming people who had suffered discrimination or violence, such as being physically or sexually assaulted at work or school.
Now consider this from Jennifer Graham:
It’s issues like these, not a wild-eyed bent for injustice, that makes conservatives wince as Mr. Jenner joins Chaz Bono and Laverne Cox in the don’t-call-them-freaks parade.
Let's all be clear. You just called them freaks.

Welcome to Pittsburgh, Jennifer Graham.  I have a feeling I'll be writing a lot about you.


Social Justice NPC Anti-Paladin™ said...

Every time I saw Bruce Jenner on TV, I wondered when HE is going to snap.
HIS ex-wife finally broke HIM.

Bruce Jenner, The World's Greatest Living Female Olympian?

juliawarhol said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
juliawarhol said...

You mispelled "a lot".

Dayvoe said...

I do that alott.

Maria Lupinacci said...

Great piece, David! The P-G article was so bad that I thought we should both write about it so, mine is here: