Staff WriterTwo weeks ago, social media juggernaut Facebook announced new modifications to its users' choice of genders to be displayed on their profiles. This was a daring move and a progressive leap towards understanding that was expected to draw some criticism from those that are on less-than-friendly terms with the LGBTQ community. Sure enough, Fox News' morning program Fox & Friends delivered. Elisabeth Hasselbeck and her co-hosts, Clayton Morris and Tucker Carlson, aired a segment on their Valentine's Day episode of Fox & Friends regarding Facebook's upgrade in empathy, outing themselves as not only ignorant of all things having to do with intersexuality, but also as openly derisive of its very concept. “Facebook now lets users choose from more than FIFTY options! It includes transgender, intersex? … And neither. Okay!” This not-at-all-dismissive remark was how viewers were introduced to the segment, which was followed shortly after by Hasselbeck's sarcastic referral of her co-host as, “... The male, Clayton.” Classy as always, Clayton Morris responded with a contemptuous sneer and what passes on the Fox Network for wit: “No, I changed mine to intersex.” Pardon us while we suppress our guffaws. Never one to let a dead horse lie unbeaten, Todd Starnes, host of the conservative radio program Fox News & Commentary, and a regular guest on Fox & Friends, went that extra mile for intolerance by injecting both religion and toxic sarcasm into the debate simultaneously, "In the beginning God made man and woman, but Facebook decided to improve on the original models." Next, Starnes decides to bust out an old favorite: "What if you identify as a pine cone or a chicken or a weed whacker? Facebook doesn't offer those options," Whew, thank goodness he threw 'weed whacker' in there! Otherwise we might have forgotten that time travel isn't a thing and we haven't been thrown back to the 1950s. When the subject of gender fluidity arose, Starnes drew on his inner Larry the Cable Guy and quipped: "You might want to have a roll of paper towels handy." While not surprising, this flagrant yet apathetic showcase of disrespect struck a chord with LGBTQ communities across the globe. Representatives of GLAAD had responded positively to Facebook's decision, commending the company for listening to its users' requests, as subscribers had been requesting for some time to have their gender options expanded. "This new feature is a step forward in recognizing transgender people and allows them to tell their authentic story in their own words," wrote GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis in a recent blog post on GLAAD's website: "Once again, Facebook is on the forefront of ensuring that the platform is safe and accessible to all of its LGBT users." In order to prove to the talking heads at Fox News that they were willing to respond with patience and congeniality, a collective of intersex individuals banded together to write an open letter, which was published on the GLAAD website as of yesterday, February 25th. In the letter, advocates of the intersex community, as well as members of Inter/Act, attempted to describe the unique conditions faced by intersex people in every day life: “Seeing this as a teachable moment, we’d like to begin by defining what intersex is. ‘Intersex’ describes a range of conditions which cause a person to have a biological sex other than male or female; intersex conditions are commonly referred to as disorders (or differences) of sex development by doctors and individuals affected.” They go on to explain some of the specific circumstances that make a person intersexual: “Examples of people with intersex conditions/DSD are: women born with naturally occurring XY chromosomes and female typical genitals, men with naturally occurring XX chromosomes and genitals, and other individuals born with genitals that are atypical. Many times, these conditions make it difficult or even impossible for us to have biological children.” Throughout, the writers maintain a respectful quality to their language, asking Fox News as well as other LBGTQ detractors currently speaking out (relevant proponents of the Catholic church being amongst them) to simply try to understand that their identities are authentic, and that intersexuality is a reality for a significant part of our shared species. “The young people writing this response come from all walks of life: we could be your friends, your family. Who knows? Some of your staff members may have children born with an intersex condition/DSD; odds are that you have people working for you that have these conditions.” Expect a reasoned and nuanced rebuttal from Fox News to follow some time soon.
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