This past week, celebrities, politicians, and global leaders met in New York for the 2023 Clinton Global Initiative. Unsurprisingly, LGBT issues were at the top of the agenda. One panel discussion, hosted by NBA Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade, included writer and comedian Alok Vaid-Menon, who identifies as gender non-conforming, transfeminine, and (in case you’re not confused yet) uses “singular they third person pronouns,” and the New York-based trans activist and designer Qween Jean.
Wade has become a prominent spokesperson on the LGBT scene since he announced that his son identifies as a girl and has talked about his “transgender daughter” in many media interviews. It bears mentioning that his ex-wife fought Wade’s decision to legally file to have his son’s name changed to “Zaya.” Wade is now married to the actress Gabrielle Union, but his ex-wife recently sued him because she is “concerned that our child is being commercialized at a young age” and that Wade is encouraging “gender transition” for financial reasons.
The panel was an illuminating and disturbing glimpse into the mindset of America’s trans activists. According to Alok, “trans and gender non-conforming people” are “being attacked and scapegoated so heavily right now” specifically because the rest of society is jealous. “They keep telling us lies to distract from truths about themselves,” he said. “This actually has nothing to do with us.” Why, he asked, “should the straight and cisgender community care?”
Alok went on to answer his own question. Apparently, it is because trans people have “the audacity to be free, to actually live the lives that they thought and still think are impossible, lives that are curated and cultivated around joy and possibility and expansion, they perceive us as a threat and not an invitation and not an invitation to another way to be. So what’s necessary going forward is to move the onus from my body to their psyche.” In short, he says, people oppose the trans movement due to an unwillingness to do the “shadow work” of “self-acceptance” and “because of our power.”
To which one can only respond: Nah. We just want you to stop transing the kids, showing them pornography in schools, and confusing minors.
Qween Jean really got to the heart of the matter when Wade asked him how people could be “allies.” To begin with, Jean said, we need to stop misgendering. “A pronoun truly costs you nothing,” he noted to applause. And here is the crux of the issue: This isn’t about their right to seem themselves however they like — it is about our right not to participate in their constructed narratives. A pronoun may, in fact cost you something very, very important: the truth. To knowingly lie — to call a big black man a woman, for example — is to compromise your own integrity. That is what the trans movement is asking of us.