Sun-Times Publishes Transphobic Column: ‘Laverne Cox is Not a Woman’

The Chicago Sun-Times reprinted a column by National Review correspondent Kevin D. Williamson responding to actress Laverne Cox's appearance on the cover of TIME magazine.

Time_coxWrites Williamson, in part:

Regardless of the question of whether he has had his genitals amputated, Cox is not a woman, but an effigy of a woman. Sex is a biological reality, and it is not subordinate to subjective impressions, no matter how intense those impressions are, how sincerely they are held, or how painful they make facing the biological facts of life. No hormone injection or surgical mutilation is sufficient to change that.

Genital amputation and mutilation is the extreme expression of the phenomenon, but it is hardly outside the mainstream of contemporary medical practice. The trans self-conception, if the autobiographical literature is any guide, is partly a feeling that one should be living one’s life as a member of the opposite sex and partly a delusion that one is in fact a member of the opposite sex at some level of reality that transcends the biological facts in question. There are many possible therapeutic responses to that condition, but the offer to amputate healthy organs in the service of a delusional tendency is the moral equivalent of meeting a man who believes he is Jesus and inquiring as to whether his insurance plan covers crucifixion.

Read the full hateful screed here.

And here's a petition calling on the Sun-Times to remove it and implement new standards for covering trans people.

UPDATE: The paper has pulled the article.

“Upon further consideration, we concluded the essay did not include some key facts and its overall tone was not consistent with what we seek to publish,” Editorial Editor Tom McNamee told BuzzFeed in a statement. He added that it was the “right thing to do.”

Shortly before the article was pulled, Sun-Times Digital Editor Brandon Wall tweeted, then deleted, that the piece being published was the result of a “colossal parade of f–k ups.”


  1. Tigernan says

    Sex and gender are not the same thing. Gender is a construct that we build moment by moment based on social cues. You can have a penis and be a woman – no, you can’t biologically give birth to children, but that wasn’t exactly the point.

  2. says

    There are no reasons for people in 2014 to simply not understand these issues, it’s ridiculous. Then again, I saw that survey today that more than 40% of Americans believe that “God created Humans as we are today, within the last 10,000 years” – so there’s clearly a lot of Stupid going around.

    As Tiger points out, and only an idiot would disagree with, Sex and Gender are not the same thing. A straight cis male could lose his junk in a horrific accident – no longer having male genitals would not mean that he is “suddenly a woman” – Gender does not exist between the legs, but between your ears.

  3. johnny says

    It’s a scale, on one end you have a total woman, on the other is a total man. Everyone is mentally somewhere on that scale and physically somewhere on that scale. It doesn’t matter if they’ve had to have surgery to get their bodies to match their minds, they’re still on that scale, wherever THEY feel they are.

    Technically, Williamson is right on one point, but has a very bigoted, hateful way of describing his opinion on all others… and that’s all it is in many respects: an opinion.

    At the end of the day, you have to simply ask if the person is happier the way they are, do they contribute to society in a positive way, do they make other people happy, do they enrich other people’s lives as well as their own?

    These are the important questions.

    The rest is just a bunch of negativity about matters that don’t affect the writer’s life whatsoever, just gives him a reason and a platform to be mean and hateful.

    Very sad for him, but look how happy Cox is. Perhaps he’s jealous of that happiness and positive spirit.

  4. says

    I accept that gender is between the ears. But, if that’s the case, why do some trans insist on removing what’s between the legs? Which is the point the article in question seems to make.

  5. says

    Ontario, which is a freakin’ global leader when it comes to addressing the very real issues that concern transpeople, understands why these reassignment-surgeries are not “merely cosmetic” – every intelligent mind in the field understands that these surgeries, for those who pass the utterly rigorous requirements needed to get them, are incredibly vital for the safety and emotional and physical wellbeing of these people.

    only one who demands to not be educated would suggest otherwise.

  6. says

    take a look at this site, only to understand “Perry” – who is a troll, who uses many names. my point? as you can see with gaypatriot, they have to make up things to be angry about, because they can’t point to “their own” and say a single damn positive thing.

    do you know why Trolls troll? because they have nothing good in their lives. when you can’t show, *SHOW*, a single good thing about yourself, you make up lies about others. when you can’t show the good things your family and friends are doing, you choose to get upset about Jonah Hill. when you can’t stand up to be counted, you obsess over those who *can*.

    it’s textbook. but he’ll die. alone. so it’s ok.

    the Sun-Times article is biased and the prejudice in it is barely veiled. it’s an ugly piece of writing that ignores the actual issues that face our trans brothers and sisters, in order to adopt a pathetic “ew, what are these people? they’re weird!” mentality.

    it’s shameful.

  7. Zlick says

    Go ahead and throw all the barbs you want at me, but I find nothing objectionable in the quoted part of that article – at least on a factual basis, if not a tonal one.

    A transgender male to female person is not a woman, but I don’t think that’s the claim any transgender person is really making. And it’s my personal opinion, worth absolutely nothing, that there is likely an element of severe delusion in many if not most cases of gender dysphoria.

    That said, I feel everyone’s free to be happy. If a man would rather live as a woman than a man (or vice-versa), what’s that any of my business except to be happy at someone else moving toward their own happiness?

    And it’s no business of mine whether their internal psychology is that they’d be happier expressing and living as the gender they were not “assigned” at birth, or whether they truly believe they were assigned the wrong gender by nature and fate, and are somehow in the wrong body. But there’s practically no convincing me such belief is not a severe delusion.

  8. Chuck Mielke says

    I’ll grant that there’s some tension between delusion and the socially constructed expectations we call “reality.” But the real issue is the freedom of people to act and live as they feel is honest to themselves. This is not up to the highest bidder or the dictates of “common sense.” It is up to the individual and his/her sense of personal integrity.

  9. Mikey M says

    As a Chicagoan, I sent a snail mail letter to the newspaper I have read my whole life illustrating my disappointment. This was just an incendiary piece reprinted to make headlines. It was a disgusting excuse for journalism.

  10. says

    congrats, ZLICK – those who say “there’s practically no convincing me blah blah blah” are destined to never learn or grow.

    I dunno – i have a great number of friends who have transitioned. clearly you don’t.

  11. Derrick from Philly says

    It was either in 1969 or 1970 Life Magazine put “Gay Liberation” on their front cover. A few months later “Look” magazine put the discussion of Transsexuals on their cover. Williamson’s reaction to Ms Cox on the cover of Time reminds me of some folks’ reaction to the covers of those two magazines over 40 years ago.

    As KIWI said, “transition”: Grow a mind.

  12. says

    I couldn’t even understand what he was saying in that article. Which, I’m hoping means, that stupid is just on a plane I’m incapable of comprehending.

  13. Derrick from Philly says

    Instead of “their front cover,” I guess I should’ve said “its front cover”.

    In the words of the next President of the United States, “WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE!!!!”

  14. nefter says

    Hmpf, Thought I might learn something in the comments about this because I’m one of those stupid gay people who don’t fully understand Trans…too bad the comments are buried in the usual “troll” vs “know-it-all” BS..If Towelroad was smart they would ban the lot of you! every thread..and on every website!!! don’t bother responding, I’ll go back to reading the newspaper.

  15. June says

    She is not a genetic female….that is what he wants to say. She will never know what it is like to exist as a genetic female with all that involves. She will never have a mentrual cramp…get pregnant…or have ovarian cancer….This physical reality that influences the female experience will never be available to Laverne Cox.

    My 10 year old niece just got her menses for the first time. The fear…and excitement of this physical right of passage is purely female.

    But if she wants to be call HER…and SHE and addressed as female…who cares. It’s her life….just do not stifle genetic women’s voices when we point out the uniqueness of our physical girlhood and womanhood.

    Just as I find it funny when trans men complain about genetic gay men not wanting them because they have no penis…because…according to them, maleness is seperate possession of a from the penis! Lol!

    Soon you gays will be called bigots for not f*cking genetic women who insist they are really trans men with vaginas!

  16. says

    thank you June, for letting us all know about the wonderful adventures of your 10 year old niece’s vagina. lovely.

    you’re right. she’ll never know what it’s like to have a menstrual cycle. she will however know what it’s like to be objectified, and sexualized by men. and she will know the bitter sting of prejudice as a woman of colour, and as a transwoman.

    you, for example JUNE, will never know what it’s like to have an original thought, or have anyone say “I love you” and actually mean it.

    oh well :)

  17. Zlick says

    I added “practically” because that’s more accurate than saying, “there’s no convincing me.” I can be convinced, I’m not done changing, but this would take some doing.

    I know but a handful of trans people, and frankly we have not discussed this aspect of their life in detail. So my feelings on this subject are based more on my interpretation of common sense than on my limited contacts with trans people – and I’m sure that’s a less than optimal basis for my opinions.

    But I find it fully logical to assume people who sincerely believe they are in the “wrong body” are simply incorrect and, in fact, are the ones blindly copping to outdated and damaging gender norms and societal gender expectations, that perhaps they’ve internalized like most other people.

    There’s no objective right or wrong for male or female, nor traits or qualities or sensibilities that are necessarily endemic or distinct to either male or female.

    But we live in the culture we live in, so again – whatever floats your boat. Express as any gender you please. Go and be happy, live however you want and huzzah.

    And now that I’ve read the linked article, I’m not sure what the point of it was. But hip-hooray for trans issues making the cover of Time Magazine. (But yeah, I think another fact the pointless article got right is that Chelsea Manning was the first trans person on the cover of Time.)

  18. t.rhea says

    I find it interesting that different people want to write articles like Williamson.

    What needs to be noticed and understood by people that don’t understand what it means to be an individual like Ms. Cox. I’ll admit that just like many I don’t completely understand what it is like to be transgender. And won’t pretend to know.

    What I do know is that being transgender it has nothing to do with sexuality but has more to do than what is between one’s legs, like Williamson would want people to focus on. Being transgender is feeling that the outside doesn’t reflect what someone feels like on the inside. I see individuals like Ms. Cox as a woman: she thinks like a woman, has the emotions of a woman. She just like many wanted the outside to to match what she feels on the inside. Ms. Cox is a woman and a beautiful person.

    To Williamson…what’s between someone’s legs is none of your concern. Only person’s concern that it is, is the transgendered individual.

    Williamson wants to hide behind what his “faith” is. Why do people with hateful opinions feel that they have to hide behind something?! My father is a minister (like Williamson), but I do not in any way share the opinions of my father. Involving his opinion of God not making someone gay.

    God does not make any mistakes. My being gay is not a mistake. Individuals like Ms. Cox are not a mistake. Open your hearts and minds to accept all people.

  19. jaker says

    i can’t imagine, like most people, what it’s like to be transexual, but i fully support and respect their agency and decisions.

    they are courageous in spite of the rampant hate, and that takes some serious balls

  20. Arkansassy says

    I didn’t think the article was hateful. In fact he made some good points. Does changing your appearance change who you are? There was an article yesterday about a man in Brazil who had plastic surgery to look Korean. Is that any different? There are people out there who have had surgery to look like Barbie, Superman, a Ken doll and a cat. Is their pathology the same as a trans person? It’s an interesting question to ask if the facade created by surgery can actually redefine who a person is. The article was talking about the distortion of reality and how we as individuals and a culture respond to those creating the distortion.

    On a more personal note. . . When I was a kid I really wanted to be the Six Million Dollar Man. I wanted that more than anything in the world and really thought that was the person I was meant to be. Luckily no one indulged my fantasy because if they did I would now be a triple amputee.

  21. johnny says

    I think the thing that most ignorant people (June comes to mind here) don’t understand about trans people is that they are ALREADY mentally the opposite sex than their body by the time they can walk and talk.

    The mental part of it is already done.

    They simply want the physical manifestation of themselves to match the mental one.

    That’s it.

    It’s not difficult or complex, even if the surgeries are.

  22. June says

    I have no problem with trans women having reassignment surgery. It is a manifestation of male sexism, however, to minimize the physical uniqueness of genetically female bodies….and bring down the wrath of the trans community upon women who do. Just read Kiwi’s comments where he disregards a female right of passage out of hand…as if ro say who cares. The fact that this simple biological reality is the only thing keeping the species going is of no account…

  23. Tigernan says

    A “genetic female” simply means you have organs that are used for reproduction. That has very little to do with your “self,” as you choose to define it.

  24. Rowan says

    Little Kiwi STFU.

    I have 4 sisters and don’t you DARE belittle their experiences!

    June you have a point but this place only accepts ONE way of…

  25. Jason Freire says

    Little Kiwi, I don’t know you but you really come off as a privileged jerk. It isn’t your place to lecture women about how they relate to their womanhood or how as women they feel about trans issues or experience trans activism. You should do more listening and male privilege checking, and less running of the mouth.

    June, pls. don’t let him or anyone else silence you.

  26. anon says

    If you are keeping score at home, this is where the left runs off the rails with proscriptive social norms. There are camps that want “to get past gender and sexuality” and camps that want to reinforce social norms of appearance but not form, and they can’t both be right. You can’t enforce social rules that require respect for apparent gender forms and at the same time require that everyone become “gender neutral”. This is mostly where feminists conflict with the LGBT community.

  27. says

    JUNE is a troll. I’ll call it out – a transwoman begin treated with dignity and grace and AS A WOMAN does not rob cisgendered (genetic, biologically females who identify as female) OF ANYTHING.

    just like gays marrying doesn’t “rob straight couples of their blah blah blah”

    how am i belittling anyone’s 4 sisters experiences with menstruation by calling out JUNE’s nonsense? oh right. I’m not.

    as proven by the reality that the only people commented against this story are ALL SOCK PUPPET TROLLS.

  28. Helene says

    Trans activists are skilled liars but like most liars, they eventually get caught in contradictions. For example, trans activists like Cox and Janet Mock become enraged if they are referred to as anything other than women. Mock even got angry when Piers Morgan referred to her pre-transition gender as male, using the exact phrase that Mock herself had used before (as in “you were born a male”).

    But at other times, trans activists will lecture us that gender is nothing more than an arbitrary construct. “Don’t be so uptight about biological males going into ladies’ bathrooms. Gender is just a social construct after all!”

    Well, if the gender binary is bogus and gender itself is just an arbitrary social construct, then Cox and Mock should not care at all if someone calls them men, women, or something else.

  29. June says

    Trans-sexism is now the only acceptable sexism…It is completely kosher to belittle “cis” bodies…but do not dare even talk about the physical reality/limitations of trans bodies.

    There is an anti-circumcision movement, parricularly within certain segments of the gay male comminity. One of the arguments put forth is that the penis is an intrinsic part of a boy/man’s identity…and to mutilate is a form of oppression.

    But now the argument is turned around…the phusical is unimportant to gender…

    You people keep twisting ypurselves into pretzels. I cannot keep up.

  30. Zlick says

    The “emotions of a woman” is a crock. Sure, there are tendencies in this society or that, or maybe even ones influenced strongly by biology, that are more common among one gender than the other. But a man can be just as “emotional” as a woman, and a woman can be just as “willful” as a man – to use but two examples – and that’s why I feel its misguided for trans people to want to live as a different gender if that desire is based on their traits that they themselves consider more apt for that other gender.

    I’d personally rather folks just expand the realm of what’s “normal” for all genders. Let’s have wildly emotional men. Let’s have super-competitive women. Let’s run the gamut and help to rid the future of gender stereotypes and gender expectations.

    Now, June is correct in that a menstrual cycle or a pregnancy are conditions experienced by women alone which prevent male to female trans people from a fuller facsimile of female experience. I think it was rather nasty of Kiwi to write that June couldn’t know love, simply because she pointed that out.

    And I guess female to male trans people will never know the male experience of schwing, but I suppose that’s a bit less central to male experience than the monthly cycle is to the female experience.

  31. says

    ZLICK – “JUNE” is a known troll. Here we have an actual discussion of legit issues facing transpeople being swept away by a troll talking about an imaginary 10 year old’s vagina.

    ANDY- change this commenting system.

  32. June says

    To little Kiwi. I do not want to deny trans people the right to transition. I will address them by whatever gender they wish me to use. I do not even have a problem with parents starting their children’s transition at a young age.

    What I do have a problem with is my pointing out the genetic realities being viewed as bigotry. I have addressed Laverne Cox using her preferred pronouns…but I will not pretend that there is no difference between her and myself.

  33. Jason Freire says

    Little Kiwi,

    I don’t want to speak for June or to go down the road of white knighting, but I’ll say this:

    June was sharing her voice. She did not use profanity. She was addressing the topic of the post and was not trying to hijack it or provoke people for no reason. I don’t see how she can be characterized as a “troll” under any definition I have ever heard. I think you are using that label to stigmatize and silence her. See my comment above re: how you come off as a male-privileged jerk.

    As to the substance of her comment, I think she is saying that part of being a woman is linked to the physical reality of femaleness. Your body may not be who you are but it certainly affects who you are and who you become. Laverne Cox did not grow up as a girl. Her young brain was exposed for years to testosterone at male levels, not estrogen at female levels. While a young girl might have experienced male sexual objectification, Cox would either have been living as a boy or would have been experiencing male hostility as a perceived effeminate male. Totally different experiences. June can speak for herself, but I think she is saying that it is disrespectful to biological women and their lives to tell them that there is no difference when there really is.

  34. June says

    An imaginary 10 year old….she is very real. Her name is Isabella. She loves tying bandanas to her wrists…gymnastics and baseball. And you must love saying 10 yr old vagina…keep it up!

  35. says

    There are apparently several “Perrys” here and I’m surprised the site allows the same screen name to be used by multiple posters. Is there any way to have Perry1, Perry2, or whatever?

  36. johnny says

    I’m sure out there somewhere are girls who never have experienced orgasms or have had any menses or perhaps have had their ovaries and uterus removed for some reason and therefore have never experienced the dread/excitement of being a biological female with total working reproductive organs.

    Does that mean they aren’t really women? Should we view them as “less than” women?

    I’m not throwing out a red herring here, but just saying that a trans woman would be about in the same camp as that type of woman, no hormonal flushes, no menses, no orgasms, etc… at that point, what does it mean to be a woman? State of mind? Physical appearance?

    Just raising questions, and this is probably the most I’ve ever thought about this subject.


  37. Mike says

    I can’t believe people would protest an “opinion piece” just because they don’t agree with it. So write a counter. Jesus what babies. Perfectly happy living under tyranny, well – as long as I agree with it!

  38. TheDrDonna says

    @Johnny: Actually, trans women can very easily get hormone flushes…We are taking hormones, after all. And many (most, at this point, is what I’ve heard) who do get bottom surgery can orgasm. But you’ve really cut to the quick of some of the more pernicious myths or misrepresentations I’m seeing here, namely that people are trying to come up with some litmus test that includes all cis women but excludes trans women. That said, any attempt to define womanhood that way is destined to fail.

  39. June says

    And there are people who have never seen….or who cannot hear. They deserve respect as human beings…but pointing out that they are different because they lack sight or hearing should not be a point of contention. Just as pointing out that trans women are not genetic women should also not cause contention.

    As for women having to have their ovaries etc. Removed. Again, this is a very female experience. My mother had cancer and had to have such surgery. It is something only women can relate to at its most basic level.

  40. Derrick from Philly says

    @ “Laverne Cox did not grow up as a girl.”

    Are you sure about that?

    How many life histories of Transwoman record that they felt like a girl at the point that their self consiousness began. And many Transwomen begin making themselves feminine (in appearance) at a very early age…like three or four.

  41. Zlick says

    I wasn’t seeing the menstrual cycle or pregnancy as a litmus test. Just that transitioning has its limits because biology and the sex “assigned” at birth by gods or nature trumps all attempts to completely change it.

    I’m not sure what the point of pointing that out was. Yeah, a trans woman would not have the “benefit” of those experiences, some of which are pretty central to the female experience. But all people are different, and no one would be “disqualified” from being a girl if they couldn’t have a period or get preggers.

    The concept is, however, illustrative of point I’d like to make. If a boy feels like they’re a girl, that’s their right – but they are wrong. Because a boy can only imagine what it might feel like to be girl, and that imagination may be way off the mark. The experience of the constant influence of the menstrual cycle is but one thing that can be imagined, but can only really be grokked through experience. There are a thousand others.

    A girl who thinks she’s a boy is just the kind of girl who thinks she’s boy.

    Again, pursue whatever makes you happy. But this wrong body stuff is pure hogwash.

  42. Tyler says

    Helene/Rick/Resident Troll: you only use this name to post hate on Trans-related stories. You appear literally no where else. Do you just refresh this site until Trans stories are posted just to post horribly bigoted nonsense? You’re a sick, sad individual. Please exit the LGBT community and go join the Westboro Baptist Church or something.

  43. Steve Talbert says

    If someone thinks they are Jesus and has crucifixion covered by their insurance.. As long as he/she doesn’t force 2 other people to be the adjacent thieves, then who am I to argue with that?.

    These people just don’t get that man/woman is gender as a social construct but female/male is biology. It confuses the fight over who shares in the cost of supporting one or the other choice by an individual.

  44. Arkansassy says

    I tried to post this over at Queerty but the thought police on that site censored it. I’ll state up front that this is “tongue in cheek” because some people don’t get that sort of thing…

    Don’t forget about transracials. Just because someone is born a particular race doesn’t mean that with enough plastic surgery they can’t change it. Because what really is “race”? It’s not the color of your skin or where you were born, but what you feel inside. Case in point, this Brazillian man who was brave enough to undergo hours of painful surgery to reveal his true identity as a Korean. Anyone who would continue to call this man a Brazilian rather than a Korean is racist. Anyone who would question this man is hateful. People can be so insensitive!

  45. Homo Genius says

    He isn’t a women. He is free to believe he is what ever he wants to be and live his life that way. But the trannys need to get that the rest of us don’t have to believe it as well.

  46. shawnthesheep says

    June seems to be finding a problem where none exists. Laverne Cox is a trans woman and wants to be thought of as such. She’s very up front about the fact that her experiences are different than a woman who was born genetically female. Laverne is not insisting that she knows what it’s like to grow up genetically female. So please stop inventing things to take offense over.

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