On July 17, the day before NPR's Diane Rehm Show had a unanimous panel of four leftists on transgender issues (including a Time reporter), NPR’s nationally distributed Fresh Air talk show devoted 43 minutes to “the growing number of people who identify as transgender.” Host Terry Gross brought on three transgender “rights” advocates to promote the book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Trans Community.
As usual, the guests were treated to perfectly one-sided and sensitive questioning, the “rudest” of which came on how they never want to discuss genitals they were “assigned at birth” or surgeries to alter them:
JENNIFER FINNEY BOYLAN, “trans woman”: The question of surgery is an interesting one for a couple of other reasons. For one thing, it's the thing that traditionally in the media always gets fixated on, the question of, "Tell us about the surgery. What happens in the surgery? Have you had the surgery?"
And transgender people have, for decades, offered up their most private selves as fodder for these kinds of interviews. ... But we're trying to get to a place now where when we talk about transgender people, it's not a conversation about a trip to the doctor's office. And, to some degree, what is private for everyone else ought to be private for us as well.
Naturally, religion and the idea of nature and natural law only came up as something triumphantly overcome:
TERRY GROSS: Jenny, what do you wish you had when you were a child?
BOYLAN: Well, in some ways, I had what I needed, which was loving parents. When I - my parents were very conservative and my mother was very religious. When I came out to her - and she was about 85 years old - I spilled the beans, and then I began to cry. And then she got up out of her chair, and she put her arms around me and she said, I would never turn my back on my child. I will always love you. She said, I don't know what this is, but I can promise you love will prevail. And in many ways, she was right.
And that conservative, religious older woman wound up being one of my biggest supporters and a source of love, and so I hope that parents who have children, spouses who are married to people - anyone who has a friend who is trans, I hope that they can trust that love will prevail.
GROSS: Aiden, you had said that your parents were born again Christians. Did religion work in your favor when you told your parents?
AIDEN KEY, “trans man”: My mother had allowed for a lot of -- lot of stretching room within that faith. So I think that served me really well. And I'm actually really appreciative of my upbringing because it helps me translate my experience of being transgender to others who have no awareness or inkling of what that might be like. And I can - I can speak to the faith-based issue, and I can - I can discuss my own journey through that - to coming out the other side and feeling right with God. So I - I value that. I know it's absolutely not the experience for most people, but I consider myself very fortunate to have a parent who said I love you. I see you, and I will support you.
Key, whose group works with schools to make children more aware of "gender diversity," also appeared on the Rehm panel. Here's how Gross described her unanimous panel:
Laura Erickson-Schroth edited the book [Trans Bodies, Trans Selves]. She's currently a Columbia University Medical Center, where she has a fellowship in public psychiatry and LGBT health. She's a founding member of the Gender and Family Network of New York City.
Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote the introduction. She transitioned from male to female. She was a professor of English at Colby College for many years and is now a writer-in-residence at Barnard College. Her latest book is the memoir Stuck In The Middle With You: A Memoir Of Parenting In Three Genders.
Aiden Key wrote the chapter about gender nonconforming children. He's transitioned from male to female and is the founder of the family education and support organization, Gender Diversity. And he co-founded Seattle's Transgender Films Festival.