Fox News labels transgender teen "gender bender" in segment about her fight to access girl's locker room

It's difficult not to attribute this to malice when they're so proud of their ignorance

Scott Eric Kaufman
September 2, 2015 8:53PM (UTC)

On Monday, Fox News used its chyron to christen #BlackLivesMatter a "'Murder' Movement," which while offensive, is admittedly close enough in substance to the actual arguments the network's various personalities are proffering to warrant splashing that across the bottom of the screen.

But during a segment on a transgender girl's attempt to access the girl's locker room at her high school, Fox News cruelly attempted to diminish the validity of the student's identity by referring to her as a "gender bender."


There's nothing inherently offensive about the appellation "gender bender," which has been reclaimed by some in the queer community as a way of transgressing expected definitions of "feminine" and "masculine." However, in such cases "bending" is a deliberate act, a means of calling attention to the arbitrary quality of societal norms about gender in order to demonstrate their artificiality -- which is decidedly not what the student in question, Lila Perry, is doing.

Perry is lobbying to use the girl's locker room because she identifies as female as her true identity, not because she's attempting to subvert gender norms through a performative "bending." Such nuance is, of course, lost on the producers of Fox News, who used the term "gender bender" in the same pejorative sense, and with the same intellectual integrity, as a fourth-grade playground bully.

Which is why the producers chose to include interviews with protesting students who noted that she is still biologically male. For her part, Perry's insisted that if her fellow students have questions about her identity, all they need to do is ask.


"I’m not going to expose myself. I’m not a pervert -- I’m a transgender woman -- I’m a girl," she said. "I’m just in there to change, do my business, and if they have any questions about being transgender, they are more than welcome to talk to me, and I’ll be happy to explain it."

Watch the entire segment below via Media Matters.


Parents Upset Over Transgender Student Using Girls' Bathroom


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at

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Aol_on Fox & Friends Fox News Homophobia Lgbtq Rights Lila Perry

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