It’s a Slow News Day. Let’s Mock Medical Conditions!

Disclaimer: Before you ask “Well, what did you expect, it’s Fox News?”, read this. Even if it fails to sway you, remember that asking that is condescendingly pretending that I’m the last person on Earth to understand that Fox News is full of crap.

In case you missed it, Facebook recently launched the ability for users of the American English version of its product to specify gender options other than Male or Female as well as to specify “they” pronouns be used instead of “he” or “she.” This is a long time coming and a huge step forward for people whose identities are erased or ignored. It also helps to prevent dysphoria in those who might be triggered by misgendering.

There are a lot of pros, as far as I can see, and virtually no cons. The only arguments against it that I have heard are Christianity-based (I don’t think the Bible mentions Facebook, either — deactivate your accounts, literalists) or sneers related to “pandering to liberal sensibilities” (one person’s pandering is another’s basic human acknowledgement, I suppose).

Then, there’s Fox News. Their anchors’ main argument seems to be “we do not know what these things are, therefore they could not possibly be legitimate.” Not to be that guy, but how is an argument from ignorance ever close to a sound one to make?


Two-Gender has been an identity on more continents than that man has ever visited and for longer than he will live.

As bad as the uninformed and racist Dan Gainor is, Tucker Carlson, Clayton Morris, and Todd Starnes take the cake on treating their lack of knowledge as holy edict against people’s identities and realities.

After reporting the story, host Elisabeth Hasselbeck threw to the network’s Clayton Morris, who she called “the male.” “No, I changed mine to intersex,” Morris joked in response. Tucker Carlson told “Fox and Friends” viewers that one of the new options was “intersex, whatever that is.”

Intersex. “Whatever that is.” Which is a medical condition.

As for Starnes? He took to Facebook itself.

Photo via Media Matters
Photo via Media Matters

Hilariously, it’s the God that he invokes which, if that deity existed, would be responsible for having created the intersex babies that are born every day, as well as the assigned-binary-gender-at-birth people who grow up into non-binary-identified people and those who are assigned one gender at birth but actually are another.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck is a self-described proud person with celiac. Until my second year of college, I had no idea celiac existed. Did her body not suffer the ill effects of gluten consumption until 2006 because I didn’t know it was a thing? My knee disease, synovial osteochondromatosis, is so rare and unknown that my primary care physician wasn’t aware of it when I presented her with my symptoms. Does that mean the bits of cartilage in my knee are figments of my imagination?

Arguments from ignorance aside, it comes down to basic human courtesy, kindness, and respect. Let’s say you, for whatever reason, don’t want to know about the identities of people who aren’t cisgender. Maybe you’re a Christian or otherwise really, really dedicated to the gender binary. You don’t want to look at the myriad guides that have been posted online and don’t care to learn. Even in said situation, how exactly does it harm you that Facebook has more than two options for gender identity? Moreover, what benefit do you stand to gain when you berate and belittle people’s identities on national television because a website moved in a direction you don’t and don’t care to understand?

It appears that when being a cissexist jerk just isn’t enough in some people’s quest to be the worst person that ever lived, adding racism, mockery of medical conditions, and overall scumminess is the answer.

Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy [hee-na dad-uh-boy] spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist, or, in other words, a Skepchick. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007. She is currently writing A Skeptic's Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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  1. I have seen some criticisms, but overall I really like the options I can now have on FB now. The options are overshadowed for me by being able to set who can see my gender at all. I’m entering a job hunting phase since my I’m wrapping up my degree, and have to job hunt while trans*. I feel a bit more restricted on what folks should see when they initially google my FB page. Being able to keep that to just friends really makes things better for me. I don’t want to go stealth, and couldn’t on a bet right now, but I can’t really pull out my trans* pride flag at every job interview or HR person, either.

  2. seriously, I really don’t get the supposed outrage. I don’t really get the appeal to astrology a lot of personal/dating sites seem to have, but I just either click the ‘not relevant’ type button, or don’t click anything. I think it’s kinda dumb, but, you know, if some other folks want to use that spectrum to describe themselves, they should go the fuck ahead and do that. It don’t really affect me…

    why can’t these conservatives get that? facebook offers a boatload of gender options that you personally don’t think exist… whatevs, just click the ‘cis het male’ (or, more likely ‘just fukkin male’ or ‘dude’) that you feel actually applies to you, ignore those folk you think are abominations or whatever, and get back to your life of cheesburgers and poly cotton blends….

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