Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow has come under intense criticism in recent weeks for his public opposition to Chaz Bono's participation on ABC's Dancing with the Stars. In a column posted on FoxNews.com earlier this month, Ablow warned parents that letting their children watch Bono on television could "kindle" their desire to become transgender and "amputate" their body parts:
It is a toxic and unnecessary byproduct of the tragic celebration of transgender surgery that millions of young people who do watch "Dancing with the Stars" will have to ponder this question: Maybe my problems really stem from the fact that I'm a girl inside a boy's body (or a boy inside a girls body). Maybe I'm not a tomboy; I'm just a boy! Maybe I'm not just being bullied because I'm a sensitive, reflective young man interested in flowers, not football. Maybe I'm not just uncertain about my sexuality. Maybe I'm a girl! Maybe all this angst and suffering I'm feeling as I emerge into puberty and pass through it isn't just because I'm changing, but because I should change completely--and have my breasts removed or my penis amputated!
It would be wrong to think that gender dysphoria cannot be kindled by celebrating those who have undergone sexual reassignment surgery. Human beings do model one another--in terms of emotion, thought and behavior. By broadcasting, applauding and mainstreaming the journey of a very disordered person who endured, and likely will continue to endure, real suffering based on extraordinarily deep psychological problems, we suggest that that journey is a smart--even heroic--one to take. [emphasis added]
Ablow has spent the last several weeks making the rounds on Fox News to defend his column. According to Ablow, allowing Bono to participate on Dancing with the Stars is akin to celebrating anorexia or heroin addiction. According to him, celebrating someone like Chaz Bono on television is "reality bending" because, as Ablow so eloquently put it, "Chaz Bono is not a man!"
Ablow's fierce opposition to "broadcasting, applauding, and mainstreaming" transgender people on television might come as a surprise to you if you're one of the few people on earth who watched the short-lived Dr. Keith Ablow Show. Beginning in 2006, the show ran for only one season and was cancelled due to poor ratings.
Before being yanked off the air, however, The Dr. Keith Ablow Show dedicated an entire episode to transgender people "living with a sex change operation." The Dr. Ablow of 2007 seems to have had a very different take on the danger of 'celebrating' transgender people.
In one segment, Ablow noted that a guest's "denial" of her gender identity "didn't work" and made sure to address her with correctly gendered pronouns. Ablow even stated that it "makes sense in every way" for his guest to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
Ablow seemed genuinely interested in learning about and appreciating the experiences of his transgender guests. He wasn't attacking them for wanting to "amputate" their body parts, nor was he accusing them of suffering from a "psychotic delusion." As Ablow said, he was actually "learning" from them. He even let his audience clap!
So what's changed? Does Ablow only have a problem "broadcasting, applauding and mainstreaming" transgender people when he's not the one profiting from it? Or has he simply recognized that, at Fox News, it's easier to demonize and mock transgender people than treat them with respect and understanding?