Fox has a long history of transphobia and it was showing its very best this week when, during a Fox & Friends segment on Chelsea Manning, it repeatedly misgendered her while playing the Aerosmith song “Dude Looks Like a Lady” over her pictures.
The soldier convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of U.S. cables and classified documents formally addressed the topic of her gender identity last week when she announced her plans to live gender aligned as Chelsea Manning as she begins the next phase of her life serving a 35 year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
While a number of media outlets have shown a desperate ignorance on this issue, with CNN refusing to use the correct pronouns for Manning until she has begun the process of gender confirmation — despite a gender dysphoria diagnosis — and The New York Times taking several days to get it right, Fox has excelled in openly mocking Manning’s gender identity.
Last Friday, Fox American Newsroom host Gregg Jarrett railed against what he seemed to think was Chelsea Manning attempting to lie to the nation, saying he would not refer to her with her preferred pronouns: “I don’t do what Bradley Manning wants me to do.”
Knowing that even minded people everywhere would be appalled that someone could so callously disregard Manning’s wishes and ignore the scientific facts of her gender dysphoria, he added with bullish disinterest, “People out there, don’t send me angry emails that I referred to him as Bradley and not Chelsea and him instead of her.”
This week, following The New York Times finally adjusting its reporting to reflect Manning’s preferred pronouns and name and, indeed, going one step further to openly call for Manning to be given protection in prison and the hormone treatment she will need to continue her physical transition, hosts on Fox & Friends did their very best to misgender, malign and generally lower the tone of discourse by several notches.
During a trailer for the show’s Tuesday segment on Manning, co-host Gretchen Carlson began: “Bradley Manning wants to live the rest of his life as a lady … Are [sic] The New York Times helping him out?” On screen was a picture of Manning as the world is more used to seeing her, as the soldier and Wikileaks informant Bradley Manning, and also a picture of her presenting in female attire. Over this they played Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like a Lady.”
Watch the video below:
During the subsequent discussion, if one can call a lynch piece that, co-host Brian Kilmeade implied that he thinks this is all some massive conspiracy, saying, “Bradley Manning wants to live his life as a woman — he said that — and The New York Times is happy to help. Starting today, the paper will call him Chelsea Manning, so don’t be deceived.”
Fox has a long history of misgendering trans people and demonizing them, and appears increasingly happy to do so now that anti-gay bigotry under the guise of opposing marriage equality is no longer tolerated. Fox & Friends for instance, while reporting on California’s landmark trans rights bill that allows trans children and those with gender dysphoria to use the gendered school facilities of their choice, referred to the bill as “very scary” and “social engineering run amok.”
Fox is now receiving a wide-ranging backlash for its naked transphobia against Chelsea Manning, as it should.
For her part, Manning, speaking through her lawyers, has suggested that she is willing to sue Fort Leavenworth in order to gain access to the hormone therapy she needs to continue her physical transition. It should be noted though that Manning has reportedly offered to pay for her hormone therapy, so all that is being discussed here is obtaining court backing for access to her medical treatment.
Indeed, her lawyers have clarified that Manning went public last week about her transition at least partly because the prison had already made it known that she would be denied access to hormone therapy.
Her attorney David Coombs told the Associated Press that Manning hoped the prison “will simply do the right thing” so that a legal case will not be necessary. That, however, seems unlikely given the prison’s previously stated position that it believes it is not required to provide gender confirmation medical care.
Image credit: Thinkstock.