A Word In Edgewise: Kevin D. Williamson Doesn’t Believe in Me, Do I Therefore Not Exist?


In response to Time magazine’s recent cover image and story of transwoman Laverne Cox, Kevin D. Williamson, roving correspondent for the National Review, penned a screed entitled, “Laverne Cox is Not a Woman: Facts Are Not Subject to Our Feelings.”

Williamson made no attempt to discuss, question, or understand, but from the outset took every opportunity to dehumanize and objectify Cox. He discourteously used the pronoun “he,” and eschewed medically and psychologically accepted terms for words calculated to horrify and repel.

For the acknowledged medical term, “sex reassignment surgery,” Williamson blared, “genital amputation and genital mutilation,” amplifying his fever dreams by labeling legitimate medical procedures as “the offer to amputate healthy organs in the service of a delusional tendency.”

All in all, an ugly, self-serving piece that not only hinders future discussion and understanding, but incites readers to hate and despise those they do not understand. I’ll not be changing his mind. Instead, I’d like to examine that slippery word Williamson uses in his article’s subtitle: “Facts.”

Facts have always been subject to change. It was fact, in the distant past, that everything was composed of earth, air, fire, and water. It was a fact, back in ancient Greece, that there were tiny things called atoms, building blocks that could not be divided further (a-tom?), then, it became fact that there were tinier things that made up those atoms, and now black holes and quantum physics are leading our knowledge of matter and the physical universe into unknown directions and ever-changing facts.

It was a fact in Galileo’s world that the sun circled the earth, and his inquisitors made him agree. But as Galileo is said to have said as he departed, “Nevertheless, it does turn.” Despite Williamson’s desire for his own feelings to create facts–let’s say a gender truther–transgender people do live in our world, sometimes work as journalists.

The Catholic Church lifted its ban on Galileo’s Dialogue in 1882, pardoned him in 1979, and in 1992, 350 years after his death and three years after the Galileo spacecraft was on its way to Jupiter, formally cleared him of any wrongdoing. Williamson may just need more time.

No need to defend my, or Ms. Cox’s, humanity. We exist. That’s a fact.

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