News & Politics

Lesbian Army Vet: Transgender Legal Victory Dehumanizes Women

Last October, a jury sided with a male felon who identifies as female and who sued the prison for not giving him the drugs to alter his body. He won $355,000 in damages. On Sunday, The New York Times print edition ran a very flattering profile on the transgender military veteran, Jessica Sunderland (originally named Jeremy). Feminists denounced this ruling as an unjust vindication of “trans misogyny.”

“It is a moral victory if you buy into the lies of the trans community and their activists,” Miriam Ben-Shalom, the first lesbian to be reinstated to the U.S. Army after being kicked out for her sexuality, told PJ Media. To true feminists, however, this story “is nothing more than the continuation of relegating women to second-class/profoundly lesser status as human beings and saying that their safety does not matter.”

Ben-Shalom declared that thanks to the transgender movement, “women are being treated and dealt with as if they are not fully human.”

The New York Times took the transgender felon’s story at face value, even uncritically repeating his patently false claims. Among other things, Sunderland claimed to have experienced menopause, a biological condition that only females experience.

The transgender felon had been taking female hormones — provided by Veterans Affairs medical clinics — for two years before his incarceration. He was arrested while “robbing houses to get money for drugs” after surgery to remove a growth from his liver. That growth emerged after he stopped taking transgender drugs. It was in this context that The New York Times uncritically quoted Sunderland when he claimed to have experienced menopause.

“I started going into menopause, having hot flashes,” she said. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, stopping estrogen. It wasn’t like I was transitioning back into a male. I probably looked better, because I was sweating out a lot. It was a little weird.”

The Times‘s John Leland did not correct this false statement. While Sunderland’s experience seems tragic and abnormal, it is patently false for him to claim he experienced menopause.

“He is not being honest; men do NOT go into menopause as that involves lots more than just not having enough estrogen,” Miriam Ben-Shalom told PJ Media. She admitted that Sunderland’s experience was “weird,” but stridently objected to the claim that it was menopause.

The lesbian veteran also protested Leland’s reporting in a few other key areas.

The New York Times reporter noted that Sunderland’s “classmates in the medical billing program found jobs, she said, but she has not. She was not sure what role bias played.”

“He is a felon—and he wants a job in medical billing?” Ben-Shalom asked, incredulous. “Were I the HR person, I would not hire a felon for such a sensitive area,” since such a job involves “access to people’s information, Social Security numbers, etc.”

Ben-Shalom also objected to Lelan’s reporting on the case of Alyssa Giordano, a biological male who changed his name and gender on his birth certificate and also was incarcerated in the Suffolk County jail. He recalled that “pat searches were conducted by two guards: a woman for the top half, a man for the bottom.” Giordano is suing for damages and said that “God is going to punish” the jail staff for this treatment.

Ben-Shalom took the side of the jail staff. “Why does he think a female guard should be forced to touch his penis?” the lesbian veteran asked.

Ben-Shalom shared the story among women in a group called Hands Across the Aisle Coalition (HATAC). Many of the women also expressed outrage at the story.

“Women have to keep fighting and challenging the rise of trans misogyny,” one anonymous woman wrote. She argued that transgender activism “is the ultimate string to their male ego, while we who are the genuine female article get kicked from pillar to post.”

Another HATAC member, Katherine Kirkpatrick, focused on the military and taxpayer funding of transgender hormones. “This is what the fight over trans in military is all about: Getting the trans industry access to the medical benefits of the world’s largest employer. Nothing more,” she wrote.

Lesbians like Miriam Ben-Shalom have denounced the transgender movement, arguing that it removes fundamental protections for women and that it targets lesbians by pushing a “rape culture” and “conversion therapy.”

Last year, when The New York Times reported that the Trump administration was pushing a policy that would “erase” transgender people, Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) lawyer and spokeswoman Kara Dansky argued that transgenderism undermines women’s rights protections.

“You can’t fight for the rights of women and girls if you can’t define that category directly,” Dansky said. “Women have been oppressed and discriminated against for thousands of years on the basis of our biology,” not their gender identity. “Everybody knew what a woman was when they wouldn’t let us vote.”

Transgender activists want to give biological men access to separate women’s spaces in sports, restrooms, changing rooms, and other places. This has resulted in the victories of men identifying as women over biological women. None of this is to suggest that all men who claim to be transgender are frauds (although some voyeurs have taken advantage of Target’s bathroom policy). Even so, women often object to being forced to share separate spaces won through historic feminist activism.

Lesbians object to the transgender movement because many less effeminate women tend to be lesbian. Under transgender theory, these women might “really” be men, despite their biological sex. So women who are sexually attracted to women might be encouraged to identify as men, effectively undergoing a form of “conversion therapy” which makes them “straight” transgender men.

Also under transgender theory, biological men (with penises) can be considered women, and lesbians are expected to be open to sex with them. Lesbians like Ben-Shalom have denounced this as a form of “rape culture,” where men insist on being able to have sex with lesbians.

Since the New York Times coverage of transgender felon Jessica Sunderland not only ignored these threats to women but also refused to attack the absurd idea that men can experience menopause, Ben-Shalom claimed that it dehumanizes women. The fact that women like her who question the transgender movement are violently attacked and branded TERFs suggests she might be on to something.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.