Why Rosemary McLeod is wrong

Yesterday, Dominion Post columnist Rosemary McLeod wrote a controversial piece titled “Why I feel for the kids of ego-trippers”. In it, she criticises the ‘strange’ methods of conception employed by, amongst others, female-to-male transgender men who have given birth to children. Her overall argument is that such men are ego-tripping, publicity-craving ‘he/she’s’ who are inflicting psychological damage upon their children.

Naturally, Rosemary’s vitriolic column has stirred up considerable protest, including today’s picketing of the Dominion Post office by members of the ‘Queer Avenger’ lobby group. The Wellington Young Feminist’s Collective has also criticised the Dominion Post for being ‘complicit in transphobia’ by publishing the piece.

The majority of commenters on the Post’s website have also condemned the column. However, a small handful have criticised the ‘disgusting quagmire of gender confusion’ supposedly brought about by ‘[s]hrieking fanatical people [who] don’t think very clearly’. Such comments are typical of anti-protestor/anti-feminist/anti-difference rhetoric that seeks to marginalise one’s opposition as illogical and unreasonable, and I will not dissect them in any depth here.

As a white, straight, cisgender middle class male, I can’t pretend to fully comprehend the discrimination that transgendered individuals face on a day-to-day basis. I also haven’t experienced the inner turmoil of coming to grips with one’s gender identity, or the long and protracted process of transitioning.

Nevertheless, as a historian, i’m constantly faced with writing about things that I haven’t directly experienced myself. Therefore, I feel compelled to respond to Rosemary’s column in whatever small way that I can. But how? Well, since Rosemary’s supporters seem convinced that their opponents are shrieking, unthinking fanaticists (a sentiment as offensive as it is incorrect), I thought i’d give them what they apparently crave – a cold, hard, logical breakdown of Rosemary’s argument, and an itemised analysis of why it is completely wrong.

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