Jennifer Finney Boylan is an accomplished writer and academician who just happens to be a transgender woman.
via Barnard College

It seems fair to state that no one associated with American Family Association is the intellectual equal of Jennifer Finney Boylan. Ms. Boylan has a named chair and a professorship at prestigious Barnard College Which is affiliated with Columbia University. She is the author of 13 books and the mother of two. Ms. Boylan is a gifted writer. Even her Twitter feed is compelling and humorous.

None of that matters to AFA, an anti-LGBTQ hate group. One of AFA’s propagandists, Bob Kellogg, is incapable of seeing past the fact that Jennifer Finney Boylan happens to be a transgender woman. Kellogg claims to be exercised over a recent OpEd in the New York Times. He writes: Prof finds ‘queer’ in awkward reindeer.

Yeah, I know. This is all part of the War on Christmas™. According to Mr. Kellogg, the New York Times is complicit in some sort of offense:

The New York Times gave op-ed space to a transgender university professor who claims a famous red-nosed reindeer has a pro-LGBT message for us all.

In point of fact Ms. Boylan has written a number of opinion pieces for the paper. In the article in question, Boylan wrote:

Welcome to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the queerest holiday special ever.

I’m sure that conservatives who love this old holiday chestnut will be infuriated by this suggestion. But if you watch the show without understanding that its central conflict is the way people who are different are constantly shunned and humiliated — well, I don’t know what show you’re watching. It’s not “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” I can tell you that, a show in which, at the climax, “even Santa realizes that maybe he was wrong.”

In addition to Boylan’s ability to forecast conservative Christian weather, her point is well made. Of course that’s just my opinion. Kellogg indulges in smear quotes:

Columbia University professor “Jennifer” Boylan claims in the op-ed that the television version of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” is the “queerest holiday special ever” because Rudolph is rejected by others, including his own father.

Boylan’s first name is Jennifer. Kellogg is required to express his disapproval (and the disapproval of AFA) by putting her first name in quotes.

Shame is the primary lever of religious conservatives to obtain compliance with their dogma. Demonstrating this shame (disapproval) sends a message to AFA’s constituency.
There is always a sinister agenda:

According to Boylan, Hermey’s frustration with working in Santa’s “soul-crushing” toy factory represents his ability to “gain agency over your own life,” since he wants to follow his own path.

The real lesson from the op-ed, responds conservative activist Janice Crouse, is for parents to understand the effort to create a “propaganda piece” from a beloved Christmas film.

“And it seems to me,” she says, “that’s exactly what this is all about.”

Propaganda? What this is really all about is Boylan’s self-reflection:

Sometimes I dream of seeing an elderly, grown-up Hermey [the Elf] making one of those “It Gets Better” videos, sending a message back to a younger generation of closeted elves that with luck, things can turn out all right, if only you can gain agency over your own life.

Boylan began to transition in 2000 at the age of 42. We cannot begin to appreciate the opprobrium that she faced along with the marginalization and rudeness. She has faced disparagement in spite of the fact that Boylan is an extremely accomplished and confident person.

We cannot appreciate how this affected Boylan. Kellogg — and Ms. Crouse — don’t want to appreciate it. They are responsible for some of the bigotry that Ms. Boylan has experienced.

Perhaps the worst part of this is the fact that the denigration of transgender people is based upon a passage in the Bible; Genesis 1:27. Ancient texts are more indispensable than human kindness to people who are different. In effect, these good Christians have — time and again — provided confirmation of Jennifer Finney Boylan’s sense of self in a mythical reindeer.

Were Jennifer Finney Boylan not transgender, would they have bothered to critique her OpEd?

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.