Being a powerful white man is nothing like being an undocumented immigrant girl

Jennifer Finney Boylan wants to immigrate to women’s country — trouble is, there’s no such thing.


Jennifer Finney Boylan is a white, heterosexual man who married a woman and fathered children with her, but argues otherwise.

These days, some people have such a fleeting grasp of the reality of womanhood that they believe a name change and stereotypically girly clothing changes biological sex. Some even think my first sentence is a violent hate crime, regardless of its material truth.

In his recent editorial, “Is Being Trans Like Being An Immigrant?” Boylan — a white person with a very high-profile job, powerful celebrity friends and political connections — compared himself to a young girl of colour and to mistreated, undocumented immigrants. He also linked to an article calling women’s rights campaigners “TERFs,” a slur often accompanied by threats of rape, death, or encouragement to commit suicide.

Powerful men contend that when women like me attempt to describe what gender warriors are doing, it constitutes actual violence. This claim often happens following accusations, smears, threats, and insults. Still, we persist.

Boylan compares questioning Sarah McBride, the National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), about his promotion of child transition and the legal erasure of women, under the guise of “trans rights,” to the wrongful detention of a nine-year-old girl on the basis of her ethnicity. Does McBride — another powerful man — care about 13-year-old girls who get their healthy breasts cut off, because they’ve been told they must do this in order to become the “men” they truly are? Does he care about the 14-year-old girls being thrown into chemically-induced menopause, due to being put on synthetic testosterone? Does McBride (who, as a spokesperson for the country’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, is also supposed to represent lesbians) speak out on behalf of homosexual women who are targeted for harassment by straight men who, thanks to gender identity ideology, insist they are the real lesbians?

When women’s rights campaigners, Posie Parker and Julia Long, asked McBride about all this, I was waiting down the hall. I was there to accompany them on their visits with congressional staff to talk about the harms of gender identity. We don’t know what McBride thinks of the issues and concerns Parker and Long brought up on January 30, because he turned his back on them and said nothing.

A video documents the HRC’s own visits with members of Congress that day, where McBride and several members of the House organized a panel and photo opportunity with parents who believe their children are transgender, in order to lobby for the transition of very young children. My hope for such children (who play with the “wrong” toys, like the “wrong” clothes, or have the “wrong” friends) is that adults would leave them in peace to explore their interests, and protect them from the kind of bullying that says there are right ways to be a boy or girl, instead of filling their heads with dangerous fairy tales about being in the “wrong” body.

Humans can’t change sex. No one’s body is wrong. And, the good news is, we really don’t have to conform to sex stereotypes.

Boys don’t need to call themselves girls if they want to wear dresses. Girls don’t need to call themselves boys if they want to play paleontologist. These are not medical conditions and they do not require treatment. Certainly, such children don’t need to be chemically sterilized before they’re eligible for a learners permit, which is the option McBride and HRC helpfully advocate for children who persist in being quirky.

Boylan says women like me, Parker, and Long dehumanize him — that we see men like him as “not people,” or as “animals.” This is not true. What we think is that Boylan is a man. And if he thinks that being known as a man is dehumanizing, that is quite a harsh view of men. I personally believe men are perfectly capable of humanity.

Boylan writes that, for him, “BoyLand… always felt like a foreign place.” So he immigrated. “In 2000,” Boylan writes, “I finally got my green card.”

But as for immigrating to women’s country, we don’t have one, as many of us have noted with chagrin. Thanks to organizations like HRC, we can’t even have music festivals to ourselves.

Some poor aggrieved man always wants in.

Metaphors aside, what Boylan wants deep down — to be viewed and “accepted” as a woman — isn’t in anyone’s power to grant. Wherever he goes, he brings the man that he is. He can have as many documents misstating his biological sex as he wants, but he will always be male.

And that’s okay. As Mr. Rogers said, people will like you just the way you are.

Natasha Chart
Natasha Chart

Natasha Chart is an online organizer and feminist living in the United States. She does not recant her heresy.

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