Neutrality isn’t real: Neutrality is impossible for me, and you should admit that it is for you, too. As a member of a marginalized community (I am transgender), I’ve never had the opportunity to pretend I can be “neutral.” After years of silence/denial about our existence, the media has finally picked up trans stories, but the nature of the debate is over whether or not we should be allowed to live and participate in society, use public facilities and expect not to be harassed, fired or even killed. Obviously, I can’t be neutral or centrist in a debate over my own humanity. The idea that I don’t have a right to exist is not an opinion, it is a falsehood. On that note, can people of color be expected to give credence to “both sides” of a dispute with a white supremacist, a person who holds unscientific and morally reprehensible views on the very nature of being human? Should any of us do that? Final note here, the “center” that is viewed as neutral can and does shift; studying the history of journalism is a great help in understanding how centrism is more a marketing tactic to reach broad audiences than actual neutrality. Many of the journalists who’ve told the truth in key historical moments have been outliers and members of an opposition, here and in other countries. And right now, as norms of government shift toward a “post-fact” framework, I’d argue that any journalist invested in factual reporting can no longer remain neutral.
As discussed in step #6, the theme of these pieces is that something must be done to stop these cisgender-kids-being-turned-transgender, and the implicit solution is to curtail/limit/end childhood gender transition. Yet, in these pieces there is absolutely no consideration of how this might impact trans children who might benefit from gender transition. In fact, such oversights can lead to obvious hypocrisy. For example, authors often raise fears that some children (i.e., ones who are “really cisgender” in their minds) may be pushed into the “wrong” puberty, and thus may have to undergo expensive medical procedures to correct those bodily changes. But this precisely describes what a trans child would face if they were not allowed to transition until adulthood. If the former example concerns you, but the latter one doesn’t, then that’s a clear sign that you value cis bodies and lives over trans ones.
Unlike Bill Cosby or Woody Allen, the man doesn’t have to be hunted through a funhouse reflecting the work, the man shown in the work, and evasions and inventions from interested parties. When the media presented Deen they inevitably presented a terrifying rigid emptiness because he was a terrifying rigid emptiness — only they called it a prince instead of a terrifying rigid emptiness. James told reporters he liked his stage name because “it helps people associate it with the iconic rebel attitude” and instead of the reporters going “Why do you talk like you’re trying to sell me pants?” they printed it. Perhaps in the era of the personal brand, people are so totally not expected to be human that inhumanity passes unremarked and uninvestigated.