The Sexist

Sexist Comments of the Week: Transgender Shoplift Edition

Last week, two stories on the Washington Post's gender treatment for a couple of transgender shoplifting suspects (Washington Post Cross-Dressing Shoplifting Story Misfires; Transgender Shoplifting Story's Absurd Corrections) inspired confusion, transphobia, and some helpful commentary!

The story: A couple of transgender women are caught shoplifting, and end up being shot by police after a botched getaway. In a medical examination, the suspects are revealed to have male genitalia. So: The Post first reported that the suspects were women, then reported that they were cross-dressing men, and finally issued a vague clarification that the suspects were still men dressed as women, but “were not in disguise.” Was the Post's treatment insensitive? Incorrect? Or the lone crusader for truth in a PC world?

Carisa Cunningham appreciates the teaching moment:

I don’t think we can just expect mainstream journalists, even those with good intentions, to know what to do, how to look at this, the correct terminology to use, etc,about what to them is unfamiliar territory if we don’t take the responsibility to reach out to them. An event like this is an opportunity for GLAAD, for example, to connect with Mr. Weil about terminology and about transgender issues generally. I accept at face value his explanations and would approach him in the same good faith. The world doesn’t change otherwise.

While TJ wants an apology:

The first thing that I thought about the article was, “That’s nice that you cleared it up.” But then I had this question: was this supposed to be a retraction of some sort? I understand that these two women are criminals, but were they issued some sort of apology? Clearly they considered themselves female based on what Renee Bailey said. And with names like Renee Bailey and Kelly Bright, how in the world would the police or anyone else think that these are men? WTF!

And william thinks that people with "confused sexuality" will naturally confuse others:

While confused sexuality may not be mysterious to those who identify as transgender—it is highly confusing to many others, including police. Give them, and the media a break. I happen to have personally met one of these suspects and can tell you “she” is living as a woman but physically appears to be very, very male. I left the meeting pretty confused myself and would have to consult an expert to properly categorize this person.

Gregory A Butler writes:

Cut out the politically correct bullshit—these were men in dresses. They may have had a mental delusion that they were “women”—but they had penises, and testicles, and Y chromosomes, and that makes them MEN, no matter how many skirts or wigs they put on!

Julia writes:

Thank you for writing this. The distinction between sex and gender is one that far too few people recognize, but you’d hope that major media outlets would at least try to get it right (it doesn’t take much research to see that cross-dressing isn’t the same as being transgendered). If they don’t, they deserve to be called out on it. And the fact that they can get it wrong probably means that the general public doesn’t have a good grasp of the issue either, which makes your detailed explanation all the more important.

Much ado 'bout nothing thinks we should all understand "the news biz" (instead of transgender people):

Shoplifters get caught is not news. Shoplifters get shot IS news. And so, when the police identify the shoplifters as female, and they turn out to have penises, that’s something that “advances the story,” as they say in the news biz. Not a correction, but a new fresh lede for the story. That’s how the news biz works.

The news biz, Amanda. Learn about it. It can help you gain perspective.

Matt C is afraid that these transgender women are suffering from our gender stereotyping:

What defines a female? Is it the type of clothes a person wears? Is it the type of general interests a person has? Or is it even the choice in sexual partners one prefers?

If you answered No (like I do) to the above questions then it would stand to reason that a man could share these same characteristics and still be considered a man.

Why then do some feel the need to ignore fact and incorrectly label either themselves or others with a stereotypical “gender identity” that defines ones sex by the way they dress & behave rather than their biological fact.

I applaud the Washington Post for getting the facts correct on this story and not letting political correctness cloud the truth.

While Gregory A Butler is back to clarify one point: Transgender women must choose between being referred to as women, and getting shot—or being called men, and not getting shot. Makes sense!:

Also, the real issue here is being lost.

These guys (and that’s what they are – GUYS) were Shot For Stealing A Dress.

That’s the REAL issue here – not what pronouns the Washington Post’s crime reporter uses!

I’m sure if you called these men “he” but Didn’t Shoot Them, they would prefer that to being called “she” and being shot over a dress!

This is one of the main reasons why Political Correctness is so destructive!

Illustration by Bonnie Kennedy

  • Jae’da

    Articles like this and the commentary of the lesser educated draw my ire. I think the bigger point here is that the two women shot were trans women. This wouldn't have been as big of a deal nor would the comments have been so disgusting if it were trans men shot because it is more acceptable in our society for "women to dress as men" (granted trans women do not consider them to be women, nor do I consider them to be, because they are men).

    I especially love retarded comments like "they have the plumbing and genetics of a man therefore they are men" especially when so many people do not have "ordinary" XX or XY chromosome pairs, some have intersexed conditions, and some women are sterile or have had organs removed. What, a woman with breast cancer who has her breasts removed -- or a woman who has to have her ovaries and womb removed -- is no longer a woman? She doesn't have the parts!

    The bottom line is those two are women. They are thieves, yes, but plenty of women are thieves, too. The two aren't correlated. If anything, it is likely that these two trans women were shoplifting because categorically trans women are below the poverty line. They have trouble getting or maintaining jobs because of prejudice (and lack of job protections), and the costs for transition are incredibly steep. While it doesn't excuse theft, I am sure if any poor woman were to run into a store and steal something and then get caught or shot there would be a lot more sympathy for her.

    I am not aiming this at you, Amanda, I just happened to see this blog linked from Google and some of the comments (which I know are not yours) are as I expected them to be: stupid.

  • Jae’da

    So I should clarify to avoid confusion: "Articles like this ..." refers to the links in the article about the "retraction" of statements about the gender identify of the criminals, NOT about this blog article.

  • Liz Church

    Surely it would make sense for the police to shoot the journalists and then arrest the transwomen for shoplifting. That way no-one gets offended by dubious reporting of a non-story. :)

  • oopster

    Simple facts, two shoplifters we're shot. The Police at first believed them to be women, upon closer inspection, they changed their minds. Whether the two robbers are men or women is down to the two people in question to tell us.

    What makes you a man or a woman, is not what's between your legs, but what's between you ears. I'm a transsexual woman who's had most of the relevant surgeries so that if I was naked, I would look like a woman. I know many other transsexual peopel in various stages of transition that consider themselves to be what is reffered to as their "chosen gender" - I don't like the words, but they're the best two available at the moment. I've also met a man, who due to cancer, had to have his genitals removed. This man is in his 60's, and is a big strapping man, and there's no doubt that he is a man. This man has no genitals now. He has to sit to pee, he cannot have sexual relations in the same way any other man would be able to, yet he is still a man, still considers himself a man, and is still seen as a man.

    Society needs to wake up and realise, that just because something makes you personally feel uncomfortable, doesn't mean it is neccessarily wrong, just wrong for you.

  • Kimmie

    What is a man who chooses to dress like a woman on Saturday's only? A man who lives like a man with his children, but goes to alternative bars dressed as a woman once a week. He is 60 years old, signs up to websites and portrays himself as a lesbian woman. Calls himself a transgender, but never had the surgery. Has a seperate home he goes to so he can dress up, put make up on and venture clubs. However the other 6 days of the week he calls himself a man. He has been doing this for 30 years. He won't go through the operation, tell any of his family members or friends. Pretends he is a woman on a website and plays games with lesbian woman and talks about them giving him oral sex as if he was a woman. Never mentions that he is a man by birth.

    What would the classification be. Would he be considered a true TRANSGENDER? If he continues wearing makeup, dresses, and takes estrogen every day so his breast get bigger, but keeps his penis till he dies.

    I'm confused and met someone like this and feel he is a FARCE. He lies to woman pretends he is a woman and takes photos of himself dressed like a woman. Why not dress 100% of the time instead of 15%.

    What is he really?

  • Zoe Brain

    Kimmie - what does this person identify themselves as?

    "What is a man who chooses to dress like a woman on Saturday’s only? A man who lives like a man with his children, but goes to alternative bars dressed as a woman once a week."

    I think that says it all. Transgendered? Yes. Transsexual? Nope.

    Transgendered covers a multitude of different things - as does, say "Abrahamic", which covers Menoninites, Copts, Hassidim, Sufis, Amish, Catholic, Marian, Druze, Rabbinical, Southern Baptist, Sunni...

  • Fuchsia

    "What is he really?"

    An individual?