Response to Kevin Williamson

by Jonas Weaver

[TW: transphobia]

Cox’s situation gave him an intensely unhappy childhood and led to an eventual suicide attempt, and his story demands our sympathy; times being what they are, we might even offer our indulgence. But neither of those should be allowed to overwhelm the facts, which are not subject to our feelings, however sincere or well intended.

This from arguably one of the most poorly articulated pieces on trans folks I’ve ever read. I get what Williamson attempts, and in some misguided sympathy, can admire what he is trying to do. But shock for shock’s sake ought to be governed by some kind of sensibility. And, thankfully, unlike Matt Walsh, Williamson actually writes well and with some sense of vigor. But his article is still garbage.

The main flaw I find with his idea comes down to biological determinism. He constantly appeals to scientific “fact” as if it were some new deity we can bow our heads to in submission. Scientific “fact” however is malleable and extremely subject to change. Never mind that Williamson appeals to basic observable facts and ignores the studies done on the minds of trans folks themselves which seem to indicate more to this discussion than initially thought. So, for all the appeals to science he seems to not actually care about science as it continues to evolve and develop (isn’t that sciences purpose?).

Additionally, for one who presents himself, seemingly, as opposed to the tyranny of the government he seems hell bent on imposing tyranny of science upon a portion of society the tyranny of “objective fact”. Nikolai Berdyaev, in his classic Slavery and Freedom,  states, “The free man ought not to bend the knee either before history or before race or before revolution or before any objective unity which makes pretensions to universal significance” (71). The point being that sex is an objective unity which makes claims to being significant. Male and female somehow mean importance on a universal level. Mr. Williamson engages in a monism which is, “. . . the denial of personality and freedom” (68). Williamson assigns categories to people and thus denies their personality, he objectivizes them and makes them into a mold, an item and cog in the machine of societal functionality.

Look. I doubt Mr. Williamson will ever see this brief response. Heck, even if he does I could care less if he were to acknowledge it since I’m an eighteen year old kid who has a passion for people and loving on them as best I can. All I do have are a few things I wish to say in regards to this topic, stemming from Williamson’s Laverne Cox piece and his previous Chelsea Manning piece:

1. Comparison of a man wishing to be tigress seems inane and superficial. There’s a difference of species to species change and identifying and experiencing dissonance between assigned sex and gender.

2. Seems to lack appreciation for the intersection of language and science.

3. While I appreciate that in his Chelsea Manning piece Williamson actually provides stats and extrapolates on his argument he seems to lack sensitivity to those who experience gender identity problems. In fact, suggesting that there be some sort of therapy to better help people cope with their gender problems (sounds startlingly similar to reparative therapy for gay folks) misses the point. I appreciate his concern for the duty of doctors but I wonder if he realizes some of the more recent statistics regarding trans folks?

4. But I have a problem with how he went about these articles. He has a tone which strikes me as divisive, schlocky, and frankly, poor. Instead of engaging he seems to want to sit on his pedestal and speak “truths”. Instead of engaging, opening up, he shuts down. He misgenders (which is violence) and perpetuates the idiocy of trying to discuss without patience and openness.

So, Mr. Williamson, please reconsider. I admit these are the half formed thoughts of a soon to be college student and I don’t have all the answers. But there’s more to this world, Mr. Williamson, than is imagined in your philosophy.