It was a childish exchange within the House Office Building on Wednesday. Democratic representative Marie Newman placed a “trans pride” flag outside her office door, which is directly across from the office of Georgia Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, recently in the news for her confessedly regrettable QAnon conspiracy sympathies. Newman did this in response to Greene’s opposition to the “Equality Act” (HR 5) and in support of Newman’s own transgender “daughter.” In response, Greene hung a sign that read, in part: “There are TWO genders.”
Now, for the record, I am not a fan of Greene’s. I don’t find this kind of activity mature, civil, or professional. It’s needlessly unkind. It isn’t productive and it doesn’t help those who, like me, oppose the Equality Act.
All of that having been said, however, both the context of Greene’s conduct and the reactions to it are frankly far more alarming, offensive, and absurd than anything she did.
Let’s look at what happened here. Newman acted first, posting her “pride” flag in the hallway of a public office building. Greene responded, saying, “Thought we’d put up ours so she can look at it every time she opens her door.” Granted that Greene’s response was trolling, nonetheless the media replied with a double-standard.
The Washington Postheadlined its story, “Marjorie Taylor Greene blasted for attacking colleague’s transgender daughter: ‘Sickening, pathetic, unimaginably cruel’.” The Guardianheadlined its “Outrage as Marjorie Taylor Greene displays transphobic sign in Congress.” Other sources described the event in the same way.
They hold an evident, though unstated and therefore unexamined, presumption that Newman’s action was not in any way provocative. Yet the Equality Act is, to say the least, a highly contentious piece of legislation — and therefore it seems impossible to fairly or logically see how Newman’s flag demonstration is anything but a provocation.
There is also the matter of the proximity to the office of Greene, who is an outspoken opponent of the bill. Newman in fact made reference to Greene when she tweeted a video of the flag being placed, writing, “Thought we’d put up our Transgender flag so [Greene] can look at it every time she opens her door.” This isn’t provocative?
Is It Cruel?
Greene’s sign read, in full, “There are TWO genders: Male & Female. Trust The Science!” This is the entirety of the message that caused one Democratic Congressman to call it a “sickening, pathetic, [and] unimaginably cruel” act. The Washington Post quotes that evaluation without any comment or question.
But is it really all that? Cruel to say there are only two genders? Even if the proposition were somehow debatable (which I really don’t think it is), nevertheless … cruel? And not only cruel, but unimaginably cruel? How is that cruel even from the transgendered person’s point of view? Are they so fragile that disagreement with their life choices is cruel?
The vast majority of human beings who have ever lived would have found the alternative thesis the unimaginable thing. And preaching the idea that you could be something other than male or female the genuinely cruel thing. At some point, one has to say that there are two sexes.
Then there’s the systematic and overarching gaslighting — I don’t know what else to call it — in the framing of this whole thing.
Reference is made throughout the Post‘s article to Newman’s “daughter.” And the coup de grâce for the journalists and for the Democrats here seems to be Greene’s unwillingness to acknowledge Newman’s biological son as a “woman” in the dust-up that arose between the two congresswomen after the events.
This is the thing that’s beyond “cruel,” even hateful or an act of violence, according to Greene’s critics. Hanging the sign was repugnant enough, but the real last straw was Greene daring to refuse to bowdlerize language and call a person with XY chromosomes a “woman.”
The Great Irony
This leads to the great irony of the thing in the end. Cooler, saner heads might have found Greene’s initial behavior “uncalled for,” perhaps downright “inappropriate” or even “extreme” — except that her colleagues and the media went out of their way to make it very hard for any sane person to end up saying so in retrospect. For in their own conduct, in their own bigoted and irrational labelling and hysterical vituperations, Greene’s critics only ended up making it seem like Greene — the erstwhile QAnon sympathizer — was the most sensibly behaved person in the whole scenario.
Refusing to see how anyone could even possibly think that people with male genitalia should not be called “women,” Greene’s critics have ended up largely vindicating her after the fact. For, in the fact of such absurdity and ideological prejudice, how could anyone be blamed for acting out in forceful and frustrated protest? Greene may have sunk low in her petulant response to Newman’s flag in the first place, but Newman and other of Greene’s opponents quickly raced — and beat her — to the bottom.