Ok, so I have to confess that one of my dirty pleasures is watching Dr. Phil. I mostly like watching his show becasue he generally gets the issue of personal responsitiblity and can be quite hard on men who are abusive to women etc. He seems to demand that people respect one another and their relationships. Well not so today.
Where to start? He was interviewing a family (2 daughters and 2 ex-wives) and Kyla (the children’s father who is in the process of transitioning. In the beginning segment he referred to Kyla as she and her. Once they got on the stage and he brought out her daughters – Kyla became he and their father. This went on an on. Kyla faced a barrage of hurt feelings from her daughters and, in my opinion, remained remarkably calm and in control. Dr. Phil read this as Kyla not caring about her daughter and he even asked her how she could hear the poem that one of her daughter’s wrote and not get emotional!!! I tell you how – she is a strong woman,who has been through adversity in coming to terms with her own gender issues. He then asked her if she did not want to just go over and hug them and she said of course but she was not sure it would be welcomed. Then the question came up about her maintaining a relationship with her daughters. Kyla said her daughters did not want to have a relationship with them so why would she push it? She was giving them time and space to come to it on their own. I thought she was being quite respectful of their feelings.
By way of explanation – Kyla related that she had always felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body and really did not have a choice in transition. As a male, she had engaged in all sorts of macho activities like being in the army and being a police officer. One of her daughters actually said that Kyla had kileed their father. The same daughter also asked if Kyla was happier as a woman than when she was with her family. Kyla responded that she was somewhat happier as a person but wished she could have a relationship with her daughters.
All through the program, Dr. Phil seemed to be attacking Kyla in addition to referring to her with male pronouns. It was insulting and disrespectful. The daughters were also insulting saying that Kyla looked gross etc. Oh, and then they had to get on the topic of child support. Kyla does not have as much income as she once did and is behind in her child support – she freely admits this fact. But they were all very quick to point out that Kyla’s hair and nails were done.
No wonder Kyla was stoic and seemed like this was not fazing her. She had to in order to protect her dignity and sanity. Having Kyla breakdown would not have helped the situation. She was constantly under attack and did little to defend herself as I suspect it would have made her way to vulnerable in that cesspool.
Now, a word about pronouns. I am of the opinion that we must address people by the pronoun with which they primarily identify. It is a matter of respect and dignity.