The screamers scream while scientists/medics try to find the proper fit for transgender athletes

First of all, being transgender doesn’t make one an all-knowing sage capable of solving the planet’s most-pressing problems, or even those on the back burner.

Second, I’m not a scientist/doctor, so finding a fit for transgender female athletes is above my pay grade.

And, finally, if the world is about to implode, most likely it will be on account of evil Vladimir Putin doing something irrational, not whatever Lia Thomas does or does not accomplish in a swimming pool.

Lia Thomas

Yet we continue to hear and read apocalyptic bombast, the latest suggestion of end times found in the scribblings of Dan Wootton, an opinionist with The Daily Mail in London and a man who believes in getting right to the point. His lede on a recent column:

“This weekend the world finally woke up and realized politically correct monsters who don’t give a damn about anything other than advancing a hard left ideology are perilously close to wiping out women’s sport for good. The incongruous image of University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas—the first transgender athlete to win the NCAA title in the women’s 500-yard freestyle—towering over the biologically female runner-up while being booed by the Atlanta crowd sums up the total madness of our times.”

Wootton later tossed in a reference to the “woke mob” and called for an “uprising” before female sports is reduced to a frolic for “sub-par biological males.”

Oh my. “Monsters” and “madness.” A “mob” and an “uprising.” Little wonder state politicos in Florida don’t want school teachers telling the kiddies about sexual orientation and gender identity. They’re just protecting the urchins from all those gay bogeymen/bogeywomen, don’t you know.

All because Lia Thomas won a college swim race.

But here’s where Wootton truly went off the rails: He consulted one person to prop up his end-days argument—Caitlyn Jenner.

Women and men who wear lab coats and squint into microscopes and hang medical diplomas on their office walls wrestle with the notion of fairness in sports, vis-a-vis transgender female athletes, and various governing bodies follow the scientists’ findings. Or they ignore the experts and make up their own rules, depending on the mood du jour and Caster Semenya’s testosterone levels.

Caster is not transgender. She’s a natural-born woman, except some in the athletics world weren’t (and probably still aren’t) convinced, thus they had squints put the South African runner under a microscope and ultimately decided that they would permit her to toe the line in some races but sit and watch others.

So if the decision-makers don’t know where a natural-born woman fits in, who’s qualified to make the call on transgender athletes?

Wootton believes it’s Jenner. He just “had to” have a natter with the world-renowned trans diva, as if a pair of store-bought boobs somehow transformed her into a savant with unparalleled insight.

“I think to be honest with you they’ve got to change the rules. We need a fair playing field. And right now, if we allow this, it’s not a fair playing field,” Jenner told Wootton. “I am firmly behind protecting women’s sports. We cannot have biological boys competing against women.”

Well, okay, except not so long ago Jenner was singing from a different sheet in the songbook.

“I think every trans person, if they’re into athletics, should have an opportunity to compete and to improve themselves,” she told Outsports in 2020. “I think sports is such a great way to learn a lot about yourself. And yeah, I want to, hopefully they’ll have the opportunity in the future to do whatever they can do. I’m all for it. I’m all for it.”

So let’s be clear on something: Caitlyn Jenner doesn’t open her cake hole without first sticking up a finger to determine which direction the wind is blowing. What Kitty Cait tells an LGBT(etc.) website isn’t what she tells Fox News, not to mention the rabble when seeking the governor’s office in California. She is an entitled transgender woman with a multi-million-dollar bankroll and whose home base is a Malibu mansion. Last time I checked, she is not a scientist/doctor, nor has she played one on any of her dopey reality TV shows. Her lived transgender experience has been a clownish ruse.

Yet this is who Wootton sought for insight, perhaps because she might be the only transgender person he has on speed dial. But it’s like hiring Tiger Woods to teach driving lessons.

Both Wootton and Jenner are entitled to their opinions, of course, and you can agree with them if you like. But to put it in terms of monsters and madness and mobs and uprisings? A bit much, don’t you think? I mean, Vladimir Putin is a monster. His Russian army is a mob. The transgender people I know aren’t trying to hurt anyone.

And let’s remember one thing about Thomas and the recent NCAA swim meet: She competed in two other races, the 200- and 100-freestyles. She finished fifth in one and last in the other.

Some speculate that she tanked, but there’s been no evidence to support that theory.

Just as there’s no evidence that the end days for female sports is nigh due to an imagined tsunami of biologically born male bogeymen-turned-bogeywomen.

Numerous people imagined, and said, the same when Renee Richards stepped on-court at the Orange Lawn Tennis Club in New Jersey, and advanced to the semifinals of her first professional tournament in 1976. Yet here we are today, almost half a century later, and there’s been no sign of a second transgender player on the women’s tour.

Richards reached as high as world No. 20. Perhaps one day Thomas will be an Olympian. I suppose that depends on who’s making, breaking or ignoring the rules.

In the meantime, screamers will scream and pretend to have the answers that not even the experts have.

Holy estrogen, Batman! Look what the Maple Leafs and ESPN have done to hockey’s old boys’ club

There aren’t many things that make a member of the male species pucker up quite like the sound of a medic snapping on a rubber glove for a prostate exam, but I can think of at least three:

  1. Being asked to hold his wife’s/girlfriend’s purse in the middle of a crowded mall.
  2. Being asked to make a pit stop at the local 7-Eleven on the way home to pick up a box of Tampons.
  3. Women in men’s hockey.

The first two make dudes fidget and squirm like mom just found the porn collection, and the third…well, let’s just say there’s a constituency that still travels to and fro in horse and buggy and grapples with the notion of women earning the right to vote.

Doc Wick

We were reminded of this on Monday when the Toronto Maple Leafs forgot that the National Hockey League is an old boys’ club and had the (apparent) bad manners to nudge Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser up the food chain, anointing her senior director of player development.

And, wouldn’t you know it, Hayley’s first order of business was to boost the Leafs’ estrogen level even higher by bringing her former Canadian national women’s team linemate and fellow Hockey Hall of Famer, Danielle Goyette, on board as director of player development, proving Doc Wick already has a good handle on how hockey’s buddy system works.

“If it’s good with Hayley, it’s good with me,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe told news snoops.

What in the name of Gloria Steinem can possibly be next? Cassie Campbell-Pascall and Jennifer Botterill joining Keefe behind the bench?

Naturally, once word of the Leafs’ appointments worked its way along the grapevine, the oinkers rushed to their keyboards like there’d been a “Sooey!” call, and they unleashed a tsunami of sexist tripe. Some examples:

Next hockey night in Canada will be Hayley, Danielle, Cassie and Jennifer. It will be like watching The View.

Laugh’s org. pulling another Nancy.”

Diversity must be the flavour of the week.”

She’ll be the next leafs GM after Dubas.”

So that would make it two female GMs in succession for the Leafs. Such a progressive, woke organization they are.”

Token appointments.”

Alas, the oinkers’ day worsened.

The New York Post reported that ESPN had recruited Leah Hextall to work the play-by-play mic for X number of games during the 2021-22 NHL crusade and, like Doc Wick and Goyette, Leah is not a penis person, so the Worldwide Leader In Sports has some nerve adding a high-pitched, shrill voice to its stable of hockey squawkers.

Leah Hextall

“Horrible and utterly repulsive,” wrote one reader in The Athletic. “Cannot stand how women have to constantly inject themselves in men’s sports because of a deep gender inferiority complex. Don’t care her background, she has never played NHL hockey (obviously) so she possesses absolutely no direct first-hand knowledge of hockey on that level much less playoff hockey. Whoever approved her to work on hockey games is a piece of garbage.”

Someone else expressed a fear that a female play-by-play hockey voice would steer ESPN into the deepest and darkest of rabbit holes, whereby they’d hire a transgender broadcaster.

Oh, the humanity.

I’m quite uncertain where it’s written that a pair of testicles is a requirement for talking hockey. Or football and basketball, for that matter.

Cheryl with Vic and Russ.

I mean, where’s the hue and cry when Dottie Pepper gives us her thoughts during a PGA tournament? And what about Cheryl Bernard and, before her, Linda Moore in natter with Vic Rauter and Russ Howard/Moosie Turnbull during an elite men’s curling match. Oh, wait. It’s only curling, and if you don’t drive by a wheat field and grain silo on your way to work you probably don’t give a damn.

It’s only a female voice in the blurt box of the he-man sports that seems to put men’s boxers in a bunch, even as Jennifer Botterill serves as living, breathing proof that a female is capable of stringing together three or more intelligent sentences on shinny, something that puts her a notch or two above Anthony Stewart and other penis people on Hockey Night in Canada.

The thing is, as far as I know Jennifer has yet to mention feminine hygiene products during her intermission gig, and I doubt that’ll be a talking point for Leah Hextall, either.

So at ease, boys. It might feel like the Leafs and ESPN have given you a good, swift kick to the gonads, but this shall pass.

In the meantime, just remember that real men aren’t afraid to hold a purse in public and, if you know what’s good for you, you won’t forget to pick up the Tampons on the way home.

Memo to politicos: There’s nothing to fear, let the girls play

I don’t expect you to understand me or the reasons that brought me to where I am today.

Hell, I didn’t understand it for most of my 70 years.

Head doctors wrestle with it and other people with medical degrees of a different stripe aren’t certain what to make of it, either.

But here’s something you should understand: There’s nothing to fear.

I’m not a threat to your way of life, your religion, your job, your children, your family pet, your home or the company you keep. I won’t let my pooch poop on your lawn without scooping up the leavings in a doggy bag, I won’t park in your handicap spot, and I won’t crank up my music so loud that you can’t sleep at night, whether I’m playing Sinatra, Streisand or Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

I don’t know any transgender individual who thinks differently, the possible exception being Caitlyn Jenner, who’s actually more of a menace to the trans community than the general population.

In return, I ask just one thing: Don’t exclude me.

Me: Before and after.

Don’t tell me I can’t live in your apartment building. Don’t tell me I can’t be your co-worker. Don’t tell me I can’t kneel in your temple. Don’t tell me I can’t break bread and drink in your local watering hole. Don’t tell me I can’t shop at your market. Don’t tell me I can’t join your slo-pitch team.

In short, don’t tell me I don’t belong.

Yet this is what’s happening today, most notably in the United States, where numerous politicos of a sharp conservative tilt have mounted a crusade to prevent transgender females from sharing the playing fields of the nation with cisgender girls and women.

The anti-transgender constituency talks like there exists a sizable squadron of very large, very hairy, ape-ish men just waiting to dab on a little lipstick and mascara, convinced that’s the surest route to the top step of an Olympic Games medal podium, whereupon they can look down on their cisgender opponents, vanquished and lying in tattered ruins at the side of the track.

“It’s unfair,” goes their rallying cry.

Except there’s no evidence to support any notion that a male-to-female transition has ever made someone a superior athlete.

Let me tell you something about a male-to-female transition.

When I started taking hormones, the top of my head was five feet, 6.5 inches above the ground. Today it’s 1.5 inches closer to the ground. I was 138 pounds at the outset and soon dropped to 129, just one serving of chicken and dumplings heavier than my playing weight at age 18.

I was in my fifties and worked as a cleaner at a nightclub at the time, and had no difficulty with the heavy grunt work, easily hauling hefty bags of garbage up two flights of stairs to the dumpster and casually swishing a sopping-wet mop across the sticky, syrupy floors. In short order, however, I often couldn’t pull the garbage bags out of the bins, let alone lug them upstairs, and that chore became part of the barman’s duties. The wet mop, meanwhile, soon felt like it was attached to an ATM machine.

Trust me when I tell you hormones and the dramatic drop in testosterone levels are an energy and strength-siphoning bit of business.

For example, I was skilled enough to play in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League at age 18. Yet had I transitioned then, there was scant chance I would have been physically capable of competing with testosterone-fueled boys/young men aged 16 to 20. Actually, forget scant chance. Based on my transition experience, it simply would not have been doable, except perhaps in my mind.

The alternative, of course, would have been to join a female league, except they were non-existent back then. They exist today.

Jessica Platt

Jessica Platt was permitted to suit up with the Toronto Furies of the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League, and her on-ice impact was negligible, with just two goals and three points in 49 games. Unfairness wasn’t an issue. There was nothing to fear.

Is it possible for a transgender female to come along and dominate her sport? Absolutely. Just as tall females dominate, just as big-boned females dominate, just as females with above-normal testosterone readings (see: Semenya, Caster) dominate, just as females with big feet and wide wing spans dominate. It’s never been one-size-fits-all on the playground, and never will be.

That applies to life.

Being transgender shouldn’t disqualify any girl/woman or boy/man from her/his pursuits, nor should it cloud anyone’s judgement and become a roadblock.

Again, leaning into my lived experience to provide an e.g., when I was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Writers & Sportscasters Roll of Honour the group’s president, Ted Wyman, informed me that my gender “wasn’t an issue. It never came up in our discussion.” They let me know that my body of work indicated that I belonged, and I applauded them for that. Still do.

And isn’t that something we all seek? Acceptance and belonging?

So let the girls belong and play.

Caitlyn Jenner is back, like a fresh batch of hemorrhoids

So there I was in 2015, sitting in Bart’s Pub across a table from my dear friend Bruce and, without prodding, he offered a high hosanna to one of the most ballyhooed people on our Big Blue Orb.

“Caitlyn Jenner rocks,” Bruce said.

At the time, Jenner had recently appeared as a newly minted, very air-brushed transgender female on the cover of Vanity Fair, and her soon-to-be-doomed self-opus, I Am Cait, was a recent arrival to our flatscreens, airing on E! Channel.

I winced and scoffed.

“Nobody will be talking about Caitlyn Jenner two years from now,” I told Bruce.

Sure enough, the Homage to Herself became a ratings Hindenburg, with I Am Cait plummeting from 2.7 million sets of eyeballs at the outset to less than 500,000 by the time someone at E! Channel had the good sense to mercifully pull the plug on the 10-months, two-seasons run.

There was no mystery why viewers tuned her out: The High Priestess in the Cult of Cait was utterly unlikable.

Although vowing to “reshape the landscape” and “change the world,” Kitty Cait was a rude, abrasive, aggressive, interruptive, cruel and power-addictive attention hog. She had the warm-and-fuzzy qualities of a desert cactus plant, and was hopelessly ill-informed on transgender reality.

Kitty Cait spent the majority of her time flouncing about the United States—Road trip, girls!—with her faithful flock of fawning followers, and when she and the Trans Troop weren’t toodling around on dirt bikes, drinking wine, roller skating, drinking wine, swimming, drinking more wine, and kissing Boy George’s ring finger, Kitty Cait could be found cooing over Candis Cayne or in a clothes closet the size of Manhattan, fretting over what to wear for a sleepover at Candis’ abode. Or she might have been bragging about the cost of her store-bought, trophy tits.

“What a responsibility I have towards this community. Am I going to do everything right? Am I going to say the right things? Do I project the right image? My mind is just spinning with thoughts. I just hope I get it right…I hope I get it right…ya,” the transgender diva said with much theatrical emphasis in Episode 1, Season 1.

In another episode, she insisted on using her dead name, Bruce, in order to curry favor with a fancy-schmancy Los Angeles golf club. So, she was a she unless being a she prevented her from sharing oxygen with the beautiful people, in which case she would revert to being good, ol’ Bruce Jenner, Olympic champion. Such a pesky inconvenience.

All the while, I would watch and cringe, wondering to myself, “Do people think all transgender women are such total ditzes and mean-spirited bitches?”

But, like her self-opus, Jenner vanished from our consciousness, unless we happened to glance at the cover of one of the trash/gossip mags in the supermarket checkout line and learn that another of the Jenner/Kardashian brood had abandoned her.

Alas, Caitlyn is back, like a fresh batch of hemorrhoids, and she wants to govern all the good people of California.

One presumes that includes transgender girls, although Governor Wannabe doesn’t want to see them running, jumping, throwing, skipping rope or playing rock-scissors-paper with “real” females. Under a Caitlyn Jenner administration, trans girls in the Golden State would be expected to stay in their own special lane, which would reduce them to non-female lesser-thans.

We know this to be true because a TMZ snoop caught up with Governor Wannabe during a Saturday morning coffee run, and he probed her brain pan for nuggets of insight.

“This is a question of fairness, that’s why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls sports in school,” Jenner said while shooing her black lab into the back seat of an SUV. “It just isn’t fair, and we have to protect girls sports in our schools.”

The temptation is to suggest that if transgender girls are still “biological boys” then it surely follows that the transgender Caitlyn Jenner is still the biological Bruce Jenner, no matter how pricey the store-bought boobs, the extensive face-sculpting and whatever other slicing and dicing has been performed on the former Olympic champion’s body.

But we don’t want to go there because it would be insulting, improper and incorrect.

Suffice to say, Jenner’s take on transgender girls in sports is deeply disturbing, demeaning and hurtful, but not at all surprising given her odious behavior and dreadful talking points on I Am Cait.

I suppose it might win her some votes and friends among Republicans in the California gubernatorial race—Piers Morgan has already given her sound bite his official okie-dokie—but stepping on the little people is one sad way of going about your business.

I’d say Jenner has betrayed the transgender community, except I don’t believe she has ever truly been part of it.

Harrison Browne is sending a mixed message by playing women’s hockey

I must confess that I’m conflicted about Harrison Browne.

I’m delighted for him, because he’s begun to live his truth, but I’m mildly disappointed in him because he’s sending mixed signals by living only a portion of his truth.

For those of you who haven’t been formally introduced, Browne is a transgender male on the roster of the Metropolitan Riveters of the National Women’s Hockey League. Yes, he plays with the girls. Still. That’s why the question he most oft fields is this: If you identify as a man, why are you still playing women’s hockey?

“It’s either I continue playing a sport that I love, and be a professional athlete, or I start living as myself to everyone and start being who I am on the inside reflecting in the mirror,” he explains in the well-done TSN feature The Shift. “Both of those outcomes are so enticing to me, but I have to choose.”

He has chosen women’s hockey over testosterone hormone therapy and surgery.

“Hockey is everything to me,” he says.

“I feel that my message is more important now than ever and I feel that it’s more powerful as an active athlete. You might be thinking, ‘Will he ever physically transition?’ Yes, but not until I’m done spreading as much awareness as I can as an active athlete and as a pre-transition trans man.”

Therein lies my conflict.

Exactly what message is Browne sending about transgender individuals? That we’re confused? That we’re so messed up mentally that we don’t know who we are? I mean, he’s asking us to call him Harrison, not his birth name (or, to use a transgender term, his ‘dead’ name) Hailey, and he’s asking us to use male pronouns when referencing him. I get that. It’s hugely significant. It’s vital to most transgender people.

Harrison Browne

Two years ago, for example, one of my dearest friends asked if she could call me by my ‘dead’ name.

“Would you take offence?” she asked. “In no way would it be disrespectful.”

“Yes,” I told her, “I’m afraid I would be very offended. I would also be hurt.”

I haven’t seen or heard from her since, but losing friends and/or family is not uncommon for transgender individuals. It’s a price we sometimes pay, like it or not.

Anyway, Harrison is Harrison, and to call him anything else is a rejection, offensive and, depending on the person, the circumstance and the intent, it can be cruel and crippling. Trust me. Been there, had it done to me. It can hurt like hell.

Having said that, I have difficulty with Browne’s message because, by playing in the NWHL, he’s contradicting himself. He presents as a 24-year-old man (he looks like a teenage boy) in his everyday, walkabout life, but he chooses not to begin his physical transition. Taking testosterone would render him ineligible to play women’s hockey. Such an inconvenience. So, here’s how some might read his message: He wants to have it both ways.

Which invites criticism, cynicism and confusion from beyond the transgender sphere.

I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. Browne says once he takes his first shot of testosterone, hockey, which is his “everything,” is over. Well, no, it isn’t. Women’s hockey would be over, but there’s this thing called men’s leagues. I know, I know. He’s only 5-feet-4 and 120 pounds. So what? I was 5-feet-5, 128 pounds when I played in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, and I was only an inch taller and still 128 pounds when I participated in the Winnipeg Jets’ inaugural National Hockey League rookie camp. I was a sprig.

But, as I said, that’s the devil’s advocate in me saying those things.

I will emphasize this: There is no road map for transitioning. We all do it on our own clock and on our own terms. The last thing Harrison needs is for dozens of people, myself included, telling him how and when it’s supposed to be done. That’s why I’d never suggest that Browne is betraying some perceived transgender cause. It’s his call.

Still, he’s sending a very mixed message, and I’m not convinced that’s helpful in our cynical and skeptical world.

About the Curling Whisperer, Moosie Turnbull…mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa from Cam Newton and Jourdan Rodrigue…letting women-beaters into the CFL…and Kitty Cait is sorry, too…

Random thoughts before the candle goes out and the sun comes up…

Canada didn’t invent curling. That’s down to the wee Scots. But we acted as if the game was ours, winning 12 of the first 14 men’s world championships.

Then Ray Turnbull had to go and stick his long, thin nose into other people’s business.

Moosie Turnbull

Our Moosie couldn’t leave well enough alone. No sir. He just had to take his Manitoba tuck delivery and show it off for all the world to see. Next thing you know, the Swedes, Swiss, Norwegians and Americans were kicking our hoser butts. Most years they still do on the women’s side.

And that’s the legacy Turnbull leaves behind. He was the Curling Whisperer.

Moosie, who surrendered to cancer at age 78 on Friday, has a resume that few, if any, can parallel. Yet it isn’t his Brier title and silver medal at the worlds in 1965, nor his tutorials to curling-curious nations around the globe, nor his 25 years beside Vic Rauter and Linda Moore in the TSN broadcast booth that I’ll remember most about Turnbull. It’s the person. He was a big, lovely man, full of enthusiasm.

Whenever I saw Moosie at the Brier, the Scotties, a women’s or men’s world tournament, or his home hangout, the Granite Curling Club at One Granite Way in Winnipeg, he was always quick with a warm greeting, a smile and a story. Moosie talked curling like Donald Trump talks about himself. All. The. Time. But it never got boring.

I last saw Moosie at a Brier in Calgary. I was writing for the Tankard Times and we had occasion to chat after one of the bleary-eyed, early-morning draws. Among other things, we discussed his ’65 Brier win with Bronco Braunstein’s outfit, which included the legendary Don Duguid and Ron Braunstein.

Unfortunately,” said Moosie, who threw lead stones, “we fell short at the world championships that year. We lost to Bud Somerville and his U.S. team in Perth, Scotland. I guess that’s the one regret.”

A single regret. I’d say that’s a curling life well lived. So long, Moosie.

Cam Newton

Apologies, which we’ve all been required to make, are wonderful when not forced or scripted, and most mea culpas you hear from professional athletes are exactly that—forced and scripted. Which, of course, lends itself to skepticism re sincerity. Cam Newton certainly sounded sincere when he delivered a mea culpa to women the world over for his dumb-ass remark about how damn “funny” it is to hear a “female” discuss receiver routes in football. “Don’t be like me, be better than me,” he said, scant hours after Dannon had advised the Carolina Panthers quarterback that he wouldn’t be pitching their Oikos yogurt anymore. Okay, Cam is sorry. Except that doesn’t put his genie back in the bottle. He said what he said about women. Just a bunch of airheads. Can’t scrub that stain away.

On the matter of ugly stains, it turns out that the target of Newton’s objectionable conduct, Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer, is, if not a raging racist, a big fan of racism. She sent out some truly disgusting tweets while in college, one of which was a salute to her dad for being “super racist as we pass through Navajo land.” Someone else, perhaps her dad, was “the best. Racist jokes the whole drive home.” And there was something about fast car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. being a “bitch nigga.” Naturally, Rodrigue is “deeply sorry.” Probably not as sorry as she will be when the Observer hauls her tush off the football beat. I mean, the newspaper has no choice, right? It cannot possibly keep her on the Panthers beat when the great majority of the people she interacts with are black men. Her cred is totally shot.

Since apologies seem to be vogue, I’d like to take this opportunity to say “I’m sorry” for everything I’ve ever written.

Johnny Manziel

I take no issue with jock journalists sprinkling their copy with political commentary, but some scribes absolutely should stick to sports. Take Steve Simmons of Postmedia as an e.g. Last October, he wrote this: “Ray Rice lost his career to domestic violence. Shouldn’t (New York) Giants kicker Josh Brown have lost his already for similar reasons without video?” Yet here was Simmons just last month, writing about Johnny Manziel coming to the Canadian Football League: “Personally, I think the CFL is stronger, maybe more fun, possibly more fan-appealing, with Manziel playing or trying to play the Canadian game.” So, there should be no room in the game for men like Rice and Brown, both of whom have physically abused women, but let’s all open our arms to Manziel because it’ll be so much “more fun” having a woman-beater on a CFL roster. Earth to Simmons! Manziel twice beat up his former girlfriend and landed in court because of it. He threatened to kill her. She was granted a protection order that remains in effect. Manziel is cut from the same bolt of cloth as Rice and Brown. If they don’t belong (and they surely do not), neither does he.

Well, look who’s having herself a hissy fit. Why, it’s none other than Caitlyn Jenner, who, once upon a time, starred in a reality TV show that was a self-homage and a transgender train wreck. A very dense Kitty Cait, much to the astonishment and dismay or her hand-picked, paid trans posse, used her I Am Cait platform to assure us that Donald Trump, if elected president of the United States, would be very good for women and the LGBT community. So she voted for him. And now? Anti-trans Trump and his anti-trans sidekick, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are “a disgrace.” Kitty Cait is absolutely shocked that the Transphobe-in-Chief continues to roll out an anti-transgender agenda. Like, helloooo. Anybody home, Cait? You really didn’t see this coming? Total ditz.

Kitty Cait cruising in her Austin-Healey and Trump cap.

Kitty Cait spent part of her summer sucking up to the transgender community. Seems she had a wardrobe malfunction, whereby she mistakenly (as if) wore a Trump Make America Great Again cap on a coffee run and, somewhere between Starbucks and the Malibu mansion, the paparazzi spotted her cruising in her Austin-Healey convertible (do all trans women drive those?). Click went the cameras. Not a good optic when the president and cronies are attacking the T in LGBT. She’s made a vow to never again leave home wearing her MAGA ball cap. Never, never, never. She even threatened to toss the thing into the dust bin. She has not, however, promised to do the same thing with Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

While reading about Kitty Cait’s great ball cap flap, I recalled her once telling a reporter that “the hardest part about being a woman is figuring out what to wear.” Ya, it must be such a hassle deciding between a Trump hat and something that might have a touch of class.

Just wondering: Has anyone on CNN ever said something positive about Donald Trump? I’m not a Trumpite. I think he’s quite the buffoon. A dangerous buffoon. But, really, the constant trashing can be overbearing. I suppose that’s why we have buttons on our remotes, though.

Brief review of the season’s second episode of Will & Grace: Not as good as the premiere. Not even close. I must make a point of asking my gay male friends if they find the show humorous.

Coming out is hard enough without being told how to do it and how to act afterwards

Life is full of little surprises that sometimes feel like an ambush. Like when you realize you’re gay or transgender. What do you do now?

Coming out is seldom, if ever, easy.

It’s like there are two of you, one sitting on each shoulder, and both are engaged in push-me-pull-you mental gymnastics that can be crippling, if not paralyzing.

The positive of the two yous is determined to push you out of the closet, trying to sway you with comforting assurances that family, friends, co-workers, classmates and everyday acquaintances will welcome and embrace the gay you with inviting arms and adoring smiles.

“It’ll be safe,” she whispers. “You have nothing to worry about. You’ll be free and the world will finally see the true you. They’ll love you.”

Yet, just as you are about to step out, the other you pulls you back with words of caution, if not scare tactics: “Leave this closet,” she says, waving a red flag, “and you will be rejected, degraded, humiliated, bullied, sullied and maybe even beaten up. Is that what you really want your life to become?”

It is as I have written: Discovering yourself is the interesting part, accepting yourself is the hard part, revealing yourself is the frightening part that goes bump in the night.

It would be helpful, of course, were there a How-To Manual for Coming Out. We could simply turn to the appropriate chapter and, presto, we’re out and we’re proud gay, lesbian and transgender women, men and children. Life goes on tickety-boo. Except it isn’t quite as simple as picking up a copy of Popular Mechanics to learn how to change the oil on your SUV.

There is no right way to come out. There is no wrong way, either, although my personal experience taught me that the right and wrong of coming out is very much left to interpretation.

I advised those closest to me in a lengthy late-night email and, as I was to discover from a dear friend who has since basically disappeared from my life, it was callous, insensitive, hurtful and ill-timed. How dare I not advise her before all others, and how thoughtless of me to dump such naked honesty on her when she was dealing with her own level of personal strife.

“We had a special relationship,” she reminded me in an accusatory tone a number of years later, at our first get-together after the fact. “You should have told me first.”

“We have to do this in our own way and on our own timetable,” I tried to explain in an unflinching way that, I suppose, might have come across as clinical and unfeeling. “Each of us is different. We find our own way. We feel when the time is right, so we do it and expect the worst but hope for the best.”

Is there an element of selfishness in all that. By definition, absolutely. You are foremost and uppermost. Yet you also acknowledge that others might be wounded, which only adds more uncertainty to the original, push-me-pull-you pile of confusion.

It doesn’t end there, either.

Now that you’re out, are you supposed to behave and talk a certain way? That is, do you now immerse yourself into the gay collective and become a mouthpiece and advocate for the gay rights cause? Or do you simply go about the business of being you? Again, that’s an individual choice.

Shawn Barber

This past April, world champion and Olympic pole vaulter Shawn Barber came out in 54 words on his Facebook page. He was gay and he was proud. Nothing more to see here. Let’s move on.

“A person has the right to say as little or as much as they want about their orientation,” observed Jim Buzinski on the website Outsports.

Agreed.

But wait. Here we are three months later and the other main scribe at Outsports, Cyd Zeigler, has scolded Barber, who, at the recent Canadian track and field championships, told the Toronto Star that his being gay is “something that shouldn’t be a big deal.”

“Declaring to the world that you’re gay—even if it was in desperately early morning hours—then going into hiding is hardly the behavior of a champion,” Zeigler wrote in a gratuitous bullying, attack piece. “Barber, instead, has cringed. For whatever reason, he has decided that the whole ‘gay thing’ isn’t a necessary part of his identity as an athlete. So he’s pulled back. He’s stayed silent. No, even worse, he has belittled his own coming out.”

Zeigler has since softened his stance and rewritten the article, but his original remarks make it abundantly clear that Barber has let down the team, so to speak, and they serve as a classic example of not only a writer going well over the line of fairness in commentary but also of gays eating their own.

Coming out is hard enough and Shawn Barber is doing it his way, same as Zeigler did it his way and I did it my way. Expecting us to be anything more than who we are is not only unfair, it flies in the face of what gays desire more than anything from society—to be accepted for who we are.

Ol’ Maggie Court’s crazy ramblings a reminder that the LGBT collective still has plenty of work to do

Margaret Court says tennis “is full of lesbians.” As if that’s a bad thing.

patti dawn swansson

Moreover, ol’ Maggie informs us that there were a couple of devil lesbians on the professional tennis circuit back in her day and, get this, they would take young players to parties. Imagine that. Young women partying. With lesbians. The horrors.

Ol’ Maggie has been saying a whole lot of oddball things lately and, if we are to believe the preacher lady from the Land of Oz, civilization is caught in the grip of a global plot orchestrated by the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender collective. Those pesky gays are stealing the minds of our children, don’t you know?

“That’s what Hitler did, that’s what communism did—got the mind of children,” she advises us. “And it’s a whole plot in our nation and in the nations of the world to get the minds of the children.”

Hmmm. Kind of reminds me of what the Roman Catholic Church tried to do to me when I was a sprig.

The nuns, when not whacking us on the knuckles with a yardstick, would regale us with far-out tales of fantasy gardens, poisonous fruit, hell fires, voodoo antics like turning the rib of a man into a woman and, best of all, talking snakes in a magical tree. Their stories were better than anything we watched on The Wonderful World of Disney. But apparently Margaret Court believes all the Bible-based, brainwashing blarney that my receptive mind was force-fed, and it’s quite clear that the great Australian tennis champion is convinced that gay and (especially) transgender people are the spawn of Satan.

“That’s all the devil,” she says of transgender kids.

Ol’ Maggie Court

Poor, ol’ Maggie. There’s just no escaping conniving gay men and (especially) lesbians. We’re always shoving ourselves in her face, so to speak. Why, it’s gotten so bad that she can’t even travel hither and yon on Qantas anymore because the airline’s CEO, Alan Joyce, is a gay man who, not surprisingly, promotes same-sex marriage, which is, in the world according to Maggie, “alternative, unhealthy, unnatural.” The right to wed is “not theirs to take.”

“I believe marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible,” she harrumphs.

Well, it’s about your Bible, Maggie: One person’s truth is another’s fiction.

The prune-faced preacher lady has been battered fore and aft for her Bible-thumping bleatings, which included a disapproving and extremely tacky tsk-tsking of Aussie tennis pro Casey Dellacqua and her partner Amanda Judd following the birth of the lesbian couple’s second child, a joyous event that Court greeted with “sadness” because the newborn has two mamas and zero papas.

I’d rather not join the Maggie-bashing chorus, though, because I think she’s unwittingly done the gay community a small favor.

The hell, you say. How can that be so?

Well, to be clear, I find her drawing a parallel between the LGBT collective and a mass murderer, Adolph Hitler, repugnant. It is not only offensive in the extreme, it shows she clearly has lost both the plot and the argument. She appears to be totally off her nut. But…I also think ol’ Maggie has provided us with a reminder, albeit appalling—at the top of Pride Month, no less—that we still have work to do. The fight for acceptance and equality continues. It has not been won. We must keep society’s feet to the fire.

I suppose we really shouldn’t care what comes out of this nutter’s mouth, but Court is a legendary sportswoman. No one has matched her two dozen tennis Grand Slam singles titles. One of the playing venues at the Australian Open in Melbourne is named in her honor (for now). And she is a pastor (the argument could be made that she’s more of a cult leader given that she created her own church, the Victory Life Centre in Perth). Thus, her voice carries some degree of heft. If not, the pushback from gay, transgender and, indeed, straight people against her homo/transphobic tripe wouldn’t be so robust.

I’ll just say this about that: Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing, but so is the freedom to shut the hell up. Ol’ Maggie might want to give that a try.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m stepping out to party with some lesbian tennis players.

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