Metro Weekly

Daily Wire Writer: “‘Transgenderism’ Must Be Eradicated from Public Life”

Transgender advocates decry Michael Knowles's comments, even as he claims his words are being taken out of context.


Michael Knowles, Photo: Gage Skidmore

A right-wing commentator gave a fiery culture war speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, on Saturday, calling for the eradication of “transgenderism” from the public sphere.

Michael Knowles, of the Daily Wire, said that eliminating “transgenderism” from public life would be “for the good of society.” (Transgender rights advocates say the term “transgenderism” is offensive because it dehumanizes trans people and reduces their gender identity to a clinical problem or to a political ideology.)

“There can be no middle way in dealing with transgenderism,” Knowles said in his speech. “It is all or nothing. If transgenderism is true, if men really can become women, then it’s true for everybody, of all ages. If transgenderism is false, if men really can’t become women, as they can not, then it’s false for everybody, too.

“And if it’s false, then we should not indulge it, especially since that indulgence requires taking away the rights and customs of so many people. If it’s false, then, for the good of society, and especially for the good of the poor people who have fallen prey to this confusion, transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely, the whole preposterous ideology, at every level.”

Clips of the speech made the rounds of social media, with many LGBTQ advocates balking at the ideas proposed by Knowles.

Harvard clinical law instructor Alejandra Caraballo reposted one of the clips, and accused Knowles of “openly calling for genocide against trans people at CPAC.”

In a follow-up tweet, she wrote, “What exactly do you think ‘eradication’ entails? If you ever wondered how we get from hate speech to genocide, this is it. This isn’t some fringe figure, this is a Daily Wire host speaking at CPAC.”

Knowles himself responded to a headline in Rolling Stone magazine that claimed he called for the eradication of transgender people, claiming it was libelous.

Many defenders of Knowles’s comments argued that he was arguing against the “ideology” — or rather, the societal acceptance of transgender identity and elevation of transgender visibility — that has encouraged a larger percentage of people to come out as transgender in recent years as compared to past decades, not transgender individuals themselves.

LGBTQ advocates argued that it is a distinction without a difference.

“He’s trying to play the two-step where he’s saying he only meant ‘transgenderism’ as an ideology but you can’t just call a group of people an ideology to avoid accountability for genocidal rhetoric,” Caraballo said of Knowles. “It’s like saying ‘eradicate Judaism’ doesn’t mean genocide against Jewish people.”

Reporter and activist Erin Reed tweeted, “You cannot ‘eliminate transgenderism’ without eliminating transgender people. Being trans is integral to who we are. It is an inseparable part of our existence and lives. You can no more eradicate the blood from my veins than you can eradicate transness and expect us to live.”

Even U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), a conservative Democrat who generally likes to buck the party’s left-wing tilt on economic and social issues, condemned Knowles’s rhetoric as “evil and dangerous.”

According to the liberal media watchdog organization Media Matters for America, Knowles made similar comments on his Daily Wire-hosted podcast last week, arguing that his call to ban “transgenderism” in public is not equivalent to calling for transgender people’s extermination, and quibbling with critics who accused him of promoting genocide.

“I don’t know how you could have a genocide of transgender people because genocide refers to genes, it refers to genetics, it refers to biology,” he said on The Michael Knowles Show. “And the whole point of transgenderism is that it has nothing to do with biology. That’s what the transgender activists say. They say, forget about biological sex. My gender expression doesn’t have to have anything to do with my biological sex. Okay, well, then there can’t be a genocide.

“But furthermore, nobody’s calling to exterminate anybody because the other problem with that statement is that transgender people is not a real ontological category. It’s not a legitimate category of being. There are people who think that they’re the wrong sex, but they’re mistaken. They’re laboring under a delusion. And so we need to correct that delusion.

The United Nations defines “genocide” as acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” including actually killing such people, causing them “serious bodily or mental harm,” or deliberately inflicting “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

Knowles also said in that podcast that banning “transgenderism” means reducing transgender visibility in society, framing it as a return to “the way that American society operated until approximately five minutes ago when we said that men do not have a right to present themselves as women in public life, and women don’t have a right to present themselves as men in public life.”

He said “transgenderism, ultimately, is a lie. It’s a deception. It’s a fraud. Fraud is not protected by the First Amendment. Fraud is not a category protected by the principles of free speech. You have no right to fraud. So if you’re a man and you dress up like a woman and you rename yourself Sally, you have no right to go to the gym and go into the women’s locker room and say, ‘No, I’m really a woman.’ That’s a fraud. And you have no right to that.

“So, banning transgenderism, what that would mean is telling people who are a little confused that they need to get psychological help, that they probably need to get a little bit of spiritual help and they need to be normal,” Knowles concluded.

But LGBTQ and trans advocates argued that media coverage of transgender issues — and even coverage of Knowles’s comment themselves — has sought to portray the existence of transgender identity as an ideology, a “phase,” or a fact that can be debated. Many on social media pointed to the recent campaign protesting the elevation of anti-transgender views and pundits holding those views by The New York Times — which critics say has resulted in biased coverage of transgender issues — as another example of people trying to distinguish between so-called “transgender ideology” and transgender individuals.

“‘Transgenderism’ is people. He’s talking about eradicating people,” comedian and writer Raphael Bob-Waksberg tweeted. “When newspapers print scare stories about kids transitioning too early, when podcast hosts whine about girls’ sports, when politicians snark about the definition of ‘woman,’ this is what they’re talking around.”

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