While Congratulating The Winner Of Course

While Congratulating The Winner Of Course January 18, 2022
I ‘feel” like I’m joking here. I guess you be the judge.

Somehow I missed this last week, or the week before. As I said, I’ve been trying to close tabs which actually feels like a pretty bad way to spend any time. But maybe not, because the link has some real gems in it. I mean–you should click but if you don’t (it’s the NYT), I’ll just quickly fill you in. Basically, it’s an opinion piece about a person who recently won a lot of money on Jeopardy. It is the fourth person, I gather, ever to win that amount, and therefore is worthy of a lot of articles and such about that glorious accomplishment. But, of course, that is not the only reason the person is getting so much attention. I bet you can guess what the bigger deal is:

Midway through her winning streak, Ms. Schneider began to talk publicly about her pride in another aspect of her identity. “I am a trans woman, and I’m proud of that fact,” she posted on Twitter, “but I’m a lot of other things too!” She asked her new followers to consider a holiday donation to charities that help trans folks in need, including the Trans Lifeline and the Transgender Law Center.

Everything should have been fine, of course, because what is more wonderful than a person both winning a lot of money and identifying in various kinds of ways? Well, the fly in the ointment is as predictable as the day is long:

Unfortunately — but unsurprisingly — Ms. Schneider’s trans pride awoke a crew of conservative pundits who worked to chip away at her joy, insisting she hadn’t achieved the accomplishment of “most consecutive victories by a woman.” Their ugly quotes are hardly worth repeating, but the sum of it was the complaint that Ms. Schneider’s remarkable achievements weren’t a win for women. That, of course, is because they insist she is not a woman at all. Like all dust-ups over trans success stories, this bloviating over a trans woman winning one of America’s longest-running game shows is not about Ms. Schneider herself or the records she has set. It’s not even, really, about women’s rights or biology. It’s about how terrifying some Americans find any shift toward inclusivity and tolerance. It’s about their unwillingness to accept the reality that it’s actually not very radical to be trans anymore. What, after all, is more mainstream than “Jeopardy!”?

And skipping down just a bit:

It is worth admitting that normality as a goal, for anyone, is dubious at best. I know plenty of trans and nonbinary people whose very identity is tied up in the idea of transgression, of rejection of the chains that the idea of a gender binary demands. Allowing a multitude of ways to exist in the world seems like a very good way of setting people free.

So there it is in a nutshell. Bad people “bloviating” over a trans-woman. Other people going on unnecessarily about women’s rights and stupid sciency things like biology. They all “chipped away at her joy.” Worse, there are a lot of “Americans” apparently “terrified” by “any shift toward inclusivity and tolerance.” And there’s also lots of people unwilling to accept “reality” of various kinds. So much awfulness. Fortunately, the NYT is out in front to let you know how to think and what to say about this by the use of these carefully chosen and heavily emotionally laden words. In the interest of helping them be a little more “fair,” I thought I would write them some alternative copy so a passerby might be able to humanize the people who are not at all shocked that this would happen, but still do have reasonable things to say about the phenomenon. It could go like this:

“Not all reasonable human people agree that M. Schneider’s wonderful win on Jeopardy should be counted down as the win of a woman because there continue to be debates about what constitutes selfhood, sexuality, and gender. Some people ‘feel’ that gender and sexuality are not malleable as such, but go down to the level of the DNA. Indeed, they are deeply concerned about the kinds of hormones and surgeries people endure in the service of an elusive ideal that, statistically, often does not accomplish their stated goals and desires. Furthermore, While there may be many different ways of expressing one’s genetically encoded sexual self, these people–while congratulating the winner of course–think that there is still a lot of debate to be had.”

Gosh I love the passive voice. It is my favorite thing. And, of course, I would just like to point out that apart from de-escalating the emotional tenor of these kinds of important moments, it should also be possible to really and truly talk about something like freedom. “Allowing a multitude of ways to exist in the world” may indeed “seem” like “a very good way of setting people free,” but that is only because modern people do not understand the nature of the person. Having more and more choices is not actually the path to freedom. More “choice” is an interesting and depressing kind of lie. The path of freedom is actually to look for the Truth, not all the different options. The Truth is knowable and personal. The Truth, when you find him, can tell you about what sort of person you were created to be and what will really make you happy. It will be painful to learn, initially, that doing whatever you think you want in the moment is not good for you, or even that interesting. But in the long run, you’ll discover someone who cares for you so much that you will be delighted to do what he thinks is best. What “seems” best is often–too, too often–something that actually hurts and destroys and enslaves those poor people of the earth who don’t know their right hands from their left hands.

Well, that’s another tab closed. Have a nice day!

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

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