Transgender Man Sues LGBT Life Center

Bing image creator: “Call me by my pronouns”

by James A. Bacon

A transgender man has filed a lawsuit against the LGBT Life Center in Virginia Beach, which provides health, housing, and other social services to the LBGQT community, on the grounds that it maintained a toxic work environment.

Alexia Kaelber, reports The Virginian-Pilot, had “dreams of helping the marginalized community and uplifting LGBTQ+ Hampton Roads residents.” Among other issues, he told the newspaper, the financially ailing nonprofit was unable to pay rent and electric bills for his clients. But here’s the kicker:

Kaelber, who is a transgender man, said his managers misgendered him and would not stop after being corrected.

Jeez, if you can’t get properly gendered at an LGBTQ+ center, where can you get properly gendered?

Schisms are occurring in the LGQBT community that the mainstream media is not reporting. It seems that many gays — how’s that for a sign of where we are as a society when traditional gays are now the reactionaries? — have reservations about the whole transgender thing.

Gays have long maintained that their sexual affinity for members of the same sex is not something they chose but was something they were born with. By contrast, transgender advocates insist that sexual identity (as opposed to sexual orientation) is socially constructed. The scientific fact that XX and XY chromosomes determine biological sex has no bearing about a person’s self perception as a male or female. Indeed, they say, gender identity is not a binary but a spectrum, meaning that a person might identify as neither male nor female, or as part male and part female, or as fluid (they change identities), or as questioning (they don’t know where they are on the spectrum).

Here’s the sticky point: Gays and lesbians have no question about their gender. Gay men know they are men. Lesbians know they are women. But there is an enormous confusion among transgenders. Many transgenders flail about when choosing between the multitude of alternatives. One source lists 81 genders. It is now possible for a person born a female to transition into being a male (changing sexual identity) and then declare sexual preferences for either males or females. Or both. Or neither.

Don’t be surprised if gays have as much trouble keeping up with continually mutating trans identities as we “normies” do.

Thus, it surprises me not that we are now reading about a lawsuit in Virginia Beach in which the managers of an LTBQT center (who may or may not have been gay themselves, the story doesn’t say) allegedly misgendered an employee.

In a related controversy… For several years I have been receiving newsletters from GayRVA about the LGBQT community in the Richmond area. The publication recently restyled itself QueerRVA, which I interpret as a sign that the publisher and editors want to adopt a more militant tone. Being “gay” is about as controversial these days as declaring oneself to be left-handed, and my gay friends have settled into lives of bourgeois normality. What, then, are the perennially dissatisfied to do? Rebrand themselves as queer.

I have been blogging recently about the controversy over inviting journalist Abigail Shrier to speak at the University of Virginia. A similar controversy erupted recently in Richmond. The queer community criticized the Richmond International Film Festival for showing the documentary, “Affirmation Generation,” which, like Shrier’s journalism, explored the phenomenon of treating transgender youth with “affirmative” care including hormone therapy.

Penny Page, a male-to-female transgender, characterized the film as transphobic. Among other criticisms, she claimed the film takes quotes out of context and makes false claims regarding puberty blockers and the phenomenon of “rapid onset gender dysphoria.” The decision of the RIFF organizers to show the film, she said, amounted to “incorporating hate speech into their brand identity.”

I did find Shrier’s book persuasive, and I have seen how trans advocates have wildly mischaracterized it, but I’m open to hearing all points of view. Are puberty blockers medically harmless? I have no way of knowing, other than to listen to all sides of the controversy. Attacking a claim by labeling it hate speech does not persuade me. Let’s air all the evidence and hear the experts debate.

That’s pretty much RIFF’s philosophy. As the group said in response to Page’s letter: “RIFF believes in the power of dialogue, and we welcome everyone to participate in the festival. At RIFF, we do not program based on personal opinions, and instead seek an unbiased and beautifully diverse approach in our programming.”

I couldn’t say it any better.