Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, who’s challenging incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, has riled up some in the media with a recent campaign ad.
“As doctor, I can assure you, there are only two genders,” Abraham said in a TV commercial.
The left-leaning MSNBC cable news network didn’t care much for Abraham’s two-gender claim.
"In Louisiana, the Republican candidate for governor, Ralph Abraham, is out with a new TV ad this week making incendiary comments about gender," said MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing.
Jansing's guest, Jennifer Horn, a former Republican, also criticized Abraham.
“The constant targeting that the transgender community has suffered under this president, and those close to him, and those who are trying to copy him is untenable. It's truly un-American,” said Horn.
Stephanie Grace, a columnist for this newspaper, wrote of Abraham’s two-gender claim: “There are real consequences to using a marginalized group’s struggles as a punchline. Imagine what it would be like for a child or teen wrestling with his or her very identity to hear such a statement — not from a peer but from an adult in a position of responsibility and authority. It dismisses the notion of sympathy. It tells people that there’s no need to try to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It could well empower bullies.”
There’s little doubt Abraham knew he would stir things up claiming there are only two genders. Perhaps he did so in hopes it would give him much-needed publicity as he attempts to elbow out Republican businessman Eddie Rispone and end up in a two-way race with Edwards in November.
Abraham also probably realized raising the gender issue would remind conservative Louisiana voters Edwards signed an executive order granting special protections for transgender state employees making it easier for them to sue if fired. The courts eventually struck down the Edwards order.
Clearly, conventional thought on gender has changed in recent years. ABC News recently reported Facebook now allows members 58 different ways to identify their gender. The Genderqueer designation seems to offer the most fluidity. It’s defined as someone “who identifies outside of, or wishes to challenge, the two-gender system; may identify as multiple genders, a combination of genders, or between genders.”
Until recently, the World Health Organization classified those with “gender identity disorder” as having a mental disorder. But in May of this year, the WHO changed “gender identity disorder” to “gender incongruence” and no longer considers the condition a mental disorder.
The American Medical Association has also evolved on gender.
“Sex and gender are more complex than previously assumed . . . It is essential to acknowledge that an individual’s gender identity may not align with the sex assigned to them at birth,” said American Medical Association board member William E. Kobler, a physician. “A narrow limit on the definition of sex would have public health consequences for the transgender population and individuals born with differences in sexual differentiation, also known as intersex traits.” reports the AMA.
But Dr. Michelle Cretella, executive director of the socially conservative American College of Pediatricians, has been critical of the changing gender narrative.
“I have witnessed an upending of the medical consensus on the nature of gender identity. What doctors once treated as a mental illness, the medical community now largely affirms and even promotes as normal. The transgender movement has gained legs in the medical community and in our culture by offering a deeply flawed narrative,“ said Cretella.
Cretella agrees with Abraham that there are only two genders.
Abraham’s view on gender align with members of his own party. A Pew Research poll last year found 80% of Republicans said whether a person is a man, or a woman is determined by their sex at birth. Only 34% of Democrats believed so.
The notion there are more than two genders is clearly gaining momentum in the media and medical community. The idea obviously resonates among Democrats who have a zeal for identity politics. What Abraham is most concerned about is how the issue will play out with Louisiana voters, most of whom lean conservative.
It seems unfair to accuse Abraham of being un-American, incendiary, or empowering bullies simply because he holds the traditional view that there are only two genders. If that’s what he believes, he’s certainly not alone and has every right to say so.
Email Dan Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org.