Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD
Wall Street Journal columnist and editorial board member William McGurn defended recently fired ESPN analyst Curt Schilling by supporting Schilling's baseless use of “science” to justify denying transgender people access to the restrooms that align with their gender identity.
In an April 25 opinion piece for his "Main Street" column McGurn, former chief speechwriter for George W. Bush, compared Schilling, who was recently fired for posting an anti-transgender meme on social media, to astronomer and scientist Galileo.
Schilling had responded to his firing by offering shoddy "scientific" claims on his WordPress blog to justify denying transgender people access to restrooms that align with their gender identity. In his column, McGurn falsely asserted that Schilling’s position on sex and gender determination is based in science, which “progressive dogma” refuses to acknowledge:
But let us also note the irony. Mr. Schilling’s main contention—“a man is a man no matter what they call themselves”—is supported by DNA and those pesky X and Y chromosomes. In short, in this fight between science and authority, Mr. Schilling is in the amusing position of being the Galileo, with ESPN filling in for the Holy Office.
Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist in chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital, puts it this way: “Curt Schilling is of course correct with the science in saying that claiming to be a woman when you have the chromosomal and anatomical structures of a man does not make you such. You’re still a man no matter what you think or how you dress.”
It’s an interesting detail that has gone largely unaddressed since Mr. Schilling delivered his knuckleball. Nor is it hard to see why. For it contradicts the dominant narrative in which Democrats take their positions from a clear-eyed look at the science while Republicans are blinded by their religious, social and economic orthodoxies.
McGurn ignored the documented biological differences in the brain structures of people who are transgender, the variance in factors that influence sex and gender determination, and the opinion of every major medical organization, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, which support providing transition-related care to transgender individuals. He also quoted Paul McHugh, a conservative psychiatrist notorious for his anti-transgender position and for peddling junk science, to further support Schilling.
This isn’t the first time that The Wall Street Journal has run questionable anti-LGBT opinion pieces. In June 2014, McHugh himself penned a Wall Street Journal commentary lamenting the growing attention to transgender rights in public policy and the media, warning that these developments signal a troubling trend toward affirming transgender identities rather than treating them as "confusions" and illnesses. Several organizations spoke out against the outlet for publishing this misinformation, including GLAAD, the national LGBT media advocacy organization.