Oprah and Transgender: Just the Facts, Ma'am?
- Tuesday, July 13, 2004
I’ve always been a fan of Oprah. She’s funny, she’s generous and she shows us a side of the world that we rarely see. Not only does she inject positive stories into the crass world of daytime television, but she also promotes hope and healing – most of the time.
Just recently, I watched an Oprah show that featured people who had overcome exceptional hurdles to succeed in life – true role models, like the boy with no arms or legs who managed to play baseball, and the mother who jumped in front of a rolling SUV to save her children.
It is episodes like these that make Oprah a unique talk show host and a wonderful individual – one that I would love to befriend. Sometimes, however, Oprah veers astray, and in the process, I fear that she takes along millions of Americans.
I have no doubt that Oprah’s intentions are good. However, the problem isn’t her intentions; it’s her worldview.
Although raised as a Christian, Oprah’s guiding philosophy is humanism. Humanism promotes the self – and happiness, primarily individual – above all else. For Oprah, the guiding light for all of our pain and problems is personal bliss – how we get it and how we keep it.
On the surface, this sounds good. It’s certainly popular to promote health and well-being, and that’s a good thing. But if happiness is our sole arbiter of truth, we will ultimately become self-centered narcissists.
This far-reaching quest for enjoyment also leads into areas that are morally shaky, if not downright dangerous. Oprah understands the ethics of journalism, especially objectivity, which means presenting both sides of a controversial issue and not hammering an audience with opinion rather than fact. But recently, she abandoned these ethics and wholeheartedly supported an issue that is controversial at best, and abusive at worst.
The latest of Oprah’s three episodes on the subject of “transgender” aired on May 12. It featured several children who claimed that they were “born in the wrong body.”
One of the children on the show, an 11-year-old girl named Kayla, talked about her problems at school and her explosive arguments with her mother that often escalated into violence. Only Kayla’s mother, who appeared to be single, was in attendance. No information about Kayla’s father, or her relationship with her father, was ever mentioned.
After years of severe emotional problems, including one hospitalization for a violent episode, Kayla watched an Oprah show about “transgender” and “realized who she really was” – a boy. She shared this thought with her mother, who agreed to allow Kayla to “live as a boy.”
Now the 11-year-old goes by the name “Kaden” and waits for the day when she can have “reassignment surgery.” In the meantime, she binds her growing breasts and takes Depo-Provera, a birth-control pill that regulates her periods. She dresses, acts and talks like a boy and claims to be “very happy.”
Young Dylan also appeared on the show. Although he is just 5 years old, Dylan insists that he wants to be a girl. Dylan’s father, who is rarely at home and who struggles with the fact that his son plays with dolls and doesn’t enjoy sports, has a great relationship with Dylan’s younger brother, but not Dylan. So Dylan has bonded with his mother, who takes her son to the nail salon and the beauty parlor. Dylan participates in these traditionally feminine activities – further confirmation, according to his mother, that he is “transgendered.”
When Dylan told his mother that he wanted to be a girl, she responded, “It’s not possible, because you have a penis. You’re a boy.” Dylan said, “Well, then I want my penis to fall off so that I can be a girl” – yet another confirmation that her little boy is “really” a girl.
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