March 25, 2017

What a deceptive headline at The Daily Caller!

"Transgender Teacher Gets $60k After Co-Workers Won’t Call Her 'They.'"

I shouldn't reward them with traffic, so let me not leave this post too enigmatic. There was a lot of harassment against this teacher — who adopted the self-presentation as gender neutral after she had breast cancer surgery and opted for reconstruction to a masculine rather than feminine-looking chest.

Here's the underlying article in The Oregonian, so I recommend getting the facts there, not at The Daily Caller, with its fake-news click-bait headline.
Leo Soell... identifies as neither male nor female and uses the pronoun they instead of he or she. But, Soell wrote, coworkers continuously called Soell "she," "lady" or "Miss Soell." Someone smeared Vaseline on Soell's cabinets, the complaint said, and another yelled insults in the school hallway. Others conspired to prevent Soell from using the school's lone gender-neutral bathroom, the complaint said....

If kids asked whether Soell was a boy or a girl, district leaders told Soell to respond, "We all have private lives, and it would not be appropriate to talk about our private lives during the school day."...

Soell said coworkers responded by intentionally calling Soell "lady" or "Miss Soell."

"Another teacher yelled at me openly in the school hallway, saying that my gender is a 'belief system' that I do not have the right to make other people follow and that God is on her side," Soell said in a complaint, obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive.
I understand that many people are traditional about maintaining the distinction between the sexes, but if you want to be taken seriously as traditional, you'd better display traditional etiquette and decency. 

70 comments:

Michael K said...

I wonder if the insults were the beginning or the result of "her" hasseling the other teachers?

Teachers are pretty leftist and PC. It's not exactly like the machine shop atmosphere.

3rdGradePB_GoodPerson said...

"I understand that many people are traditional about maintaining the distinction between the sexes, but if you want to be taken seriously as traditional, you'd better display traditional etiquette and decency."

When did this traditional stuff begin? I'm not old, but I've assumed that back in the day there wasn't much tolerance for tranies and such. Maybe Althouse is mistaking folks being forced to suffer in closets, out of mainstream sight as some great etiquette and decency directed toward them. I guess that the enjoyment resulting from that situation depends on which side of the transaction you belong to, i.e. folks forced to hide or forcing folks to hide.

I dunno.

Lance said...

The Oregonian article is quite one-sided. Did someone really yell at Soell in the halls? And what's with the vaseline, did that really happen? How does Soell know who did it?

traditionalguy said...

Nobody can take a joke anymore.

Seriously, why did they dislike her so much. Maybe she was attractive, and jealousy was the problem...she getting credit for beingthe best looking man and for being the best female heroine, simutaneously...or is that hero.

SGT Ted said...

Harassment is not good, but, her gender assertions ARE a belief system. The science that supports gender as a social construct is really weak. And her argument is even weaker.

BDNYC said...

I'm sure some of that is true. Still, my hoax spidey senses are tingling.

M Jordan said...

Sorry, Ann, but your compassion toward the S/he person leaves me cold. I have a niece who teaches fourth grade. She decided she's a man, got a big writeup in the local paper, and came back from Thanksgiving vacation telling her students they now must call her "Mister." Her own two children (yes, she was a married fundamentalist Christian many iterations ago) still call her "mommy." And now she informs the family she wants to go back to the husband she dumped when she decided she was a lesbian.

I don't support mocking or abusing people like this woman you describe or my niece, whom I love, but they are mentally ill. Their illness should not be celebrated.

James Pawlak said...

The proper term is "IT"!

dreams said...

I don't think referring to her as "Miss Soell." is disrespectful.

Darrell said...

What I really want to know is, can they come out to play?

Virgil Hilts said...

You see companies and law firms accused of discrimination/harassment by unsuccessful employees, and the charges always sound just like these -- bunch of microaggressions that are impossible to summarily refute or to get a cased dismissed on. So they typically lead to 5-figure cost of defense settlements. Its the price of being the first person to employ a sue-happy grievance holder (thus, a cost of doing business); no company with knowledge of the prior claim is ever likely to hire that person again.
What makes the system sad is that the allegations here may have happened, but I am so used to seeing this crap being made up/exaggerated (just like inevitable chiropractor-diagnosed soft tissue injuries after 10mph fender-benders) that I just assume as a matter of statistical probability that the plaintiff is full of shit.

Mary Beth said...

What form of address do the students use? Unless teachers have doctorates, they're usually addressed as Mr. or Ms./Mrs./Miss.

Did she feel this way before her surgery? Because I can see the possibility of a psychological reaction that connects having breasts with femininity and their loss resulting in a feeling of being genderless.

Are the children in Oregon more tolerant than the adults? Or are there aspects of her behavior that were witnessed more by her co-workers that made them dislike her?

A "belief system' that I do not have the right to make other people follow and that God is on her side" seems like a really long thing to yell in the hall. Pithy insults usually work better in that setting.

Laslo Spatula said...

Analogy I used before, but once again:

When a person sees their Body Image as too fat even though they are unhealthily thin, we call it Anorexia, and try to treat it. We don't humor their 'Fatness' and help the person to starve to death.

When a person sees their Body Image as the Other Sex we go along with the Disengagement from Reality, even to the point of surgical mutilation.

Cross-country train tracks that don't meet in the middle.

I am Laslo.

buwaya said...

Hiding is good.
Especially when your profession is essentially performance art for children.
This idea that we must be free to express our true nature, or our delusions about it, in every circumstance is strange.

One day the nudists will insist that they should be themselves in elementary schools. Or the attendants at the Folsom Street Fair. Or - well, there are a vast range of types drawn to teaching, many no doubt with disturbing proclivities or "identities".

I suspect also, as above, that there is a lot more to this story.

Angel-Dyne said...

To pile on with others, who knows what the real story is here.

AA: ...but if you want to be taken seriously as traditional, you'd better display traditional etiquette and decency.

The ol' bait-and-switch from non-traditionals - we're never going to treat you with courtesy and respect, but we demand that you live up to whatever we define "your" standards to be.

(At any rate, what counts as "traditional etiquette and decency" depends very much on what your tradition is. There is no Tradition, only traditions. And non-traditionals always reserve the right to pick and choose which ones they'll treat with respect.)

dreams said...

Open up another can of worms because we don't have enough problems with Islamic terrorism, health care and just making a living.

rhhardin said...

Latin plurals still distinguish sex. Will she be a professor emeriti or emeritae?

Kate said...

"A district investigation, which officials have declined to release, found no proof of harassment."

This is a "they-said" story. Was anyone really as rude as Soell claimed? Nice way to earn $60,000, though. Especially after med insurance wouldn't pay for all of the sex reassignment reconstruction.

rhhardin said...

Pronouns are closed class words. Like prepositions, new ones are not discovered and added.

dreams said...

"When a person sees their Body Image as the Other Sex we go along with the Disengagement from Reality, even to the point of surgical mutilation."

Including child abuse, what they're doing to young children is child abuse.

Darrell said...

For $60K, you can address me with "Yes, your Assholiness." Terms apply.

Laslo Spatula said...

I have Multiple Personalities!

Response: Mental Illness. Therapy and medication.

I have an Other Sex Personality!

Response: You go, girl! Or dude. Whichever it is.

I am Laslo.

rhhardin said...

If she's making a stink about it, she's identifying as a woman.

Rae said...

Traditional means "more than four years" in modern political terms. As opposed to hundreds of thousands of years of human culture.

Rae said...

but if you want to be taken seriously as traditional, you'd better display traditional etiquette and decency.

"Be polite, you transphobic Nazi!"

Laslo Spatula said...

"I have Multiple Personalities!"

What if you had Multiple Personalities, and they were all gay or transgender? What do we do then?

I am Laslo.

Qwinn said...

Forcing me to address a woman as "mister" because she wants me to, when I know she is a woman, is not respecting my belief system. Or reality - but since respecting belief systems appears to trump reality, we'll just go with - it doesn't respect my belief system.

dreams said...

I don't think people should have to twist themselves into pretzels to accommodate someone who is pretending to be something he or she is obviously not.

Fernandinande said...

Laslo Spatula said...
I have Multiple Personalities!


The trick is to get $60K in damages for each personality; just make sure they (you?) all use the same bank account.

Ann Althouse said...

"The ol' bait-and-switch from non-traditionals - we're never going to treat you with courtesy and respect, but we demand that you live up to whatever we define "your" standards to be."

I don't think people who have been reading my blog over the years should say that to me.

Jay Elink said...

If I were a "man trapped in a woman's body", I'd be very easy to spot.

I'd be seen walking down the street feeling myself up all day long.

Sweet.

Lewis Wetzel said...

The pronoun "they" does not refer to a single human being of any or both sexes. I am surprised that Althouse (seemingly) endorses its use to refer to a neutral-gender person.
The "harassment" claim is unproven. Claims of harassment need to be looked with a jaundiced eye. People who identify with no gender have a screw loose. You can't insist that gender identification is an entirely personal matter and also expect the world to agree with whatever you imagine yourself to be. The pronoun "they" is nonsense applied to a single person. How is anyone else supposed to know what it means to you? Before puberty, children are essentially gender neutral. We do not refer to individual children as "they."
If your individual autonomy requires that other people behave a certain way towards you, it is not individual autonomy. It is your attempt to control the perceptions and behavior of others. It is increasing your power by diminishing the power of others.

William said...

While I understand the point about traditional etiquette and decency, why is it that only people people holding traditional views are held to that standard? The LGBTWXYZ community feels little compunction to treat their ideological adversaries with the same courtesy, but no one outside of the right (ie, no politicians, MSM journalists, blogging law professors, etc) ever calls them on their incivility.

hombre said...

"I understand that many people are traditional about maintaining the distinction between the sexes ...."

Wait. Distinctions between the sexes are now merely "traditional," not biological? Who knew?

As for the allegations of harassment, it is clear that gender-confused people have historically been harassed. It is also true that more recently they have shown an inclination toward hyperbole and fabrication to support lawsuits.

Angel-Dyne said...

AA: I don't think people who have been reading my blog over the years should say that to me.

But that is the way the game has always been played, regardless of your never personally engaging like that. See: "civility bullshit".

Lewis Wetzel said...


Wait. Distinctions between the sexes are now merely "traditional," not biological? Who knew?


This is the new frontier in human sexuality. There is no biological basis for gender or sex. Because, on the extremes, there is some overlap between male and female biological expression of sex, biological sex is a social construct.
I first noticed the appearance of this idea a few years in the prestigious periodical Science, of all places, in a short article that claimed that because testosterone levels between some male and female Olympic athletes overlapped, it was a mistake to segregate Olympic sports by sex.

Clyde said...

Shouldn't that person have been Lleo Soell? If you're going to be a palindrome, do it right!

exiledonmainstreet said...

What is the difference between this person and Rachel Dolezal rubbing dirt on herself and declaring herself to be black? Our sex is imprinted in our chromosomes, just as our race is.

Laslo Spatula said...

exiledonmainstreet said...
"What is the difference between this person and Rachel Dolezal rubbing dirt on herself and declaring herself to be black?"

Theory: the push for recognizing Transgender issues is NOT for the tiny amount of people under that description: it is to set a stark benchmark that anything can be anything else if we just say it is so. Transgender people, being used as cannon fodder for Semantics: their choices humored because it provides desired leverage elsewhere.

I am Laslo.

Michael K said...

The transgender thing used to be called "Gender dysphoria" back when it was abnormal.

Bruce Hayden said...

"Latin plurals still distinguish sex. Will she be a professor emeriti or emerita"

Those are plural - wouldn't it be "emeritus or emerita"?

southcentralpa said...

Oh, boo hoo. When the Supreme Court handed down Wooley v. Maynard they didn't hand out damages, teddy bears, and safe spaces. They, for their part, could tape over "Live Free and Die" and their fellow Granite Staters, for their part, could laugh at them.

We have the freedom to be different, wrong, and foolish. That doesn't mean you're not going to get called on it.

I'm reminded of Orwell speaking about goose-stepping. The goose stop, he said, says "Yes, I am ugly, and you daren't laugh at me". Today we have the autogynephilic castration fetishists who wear a dress and say "Yes, I am nuts [and frequently ugly] and you daren't laugh at me." Sorry, brister (portmanteau of brother/sister), you are worthy of ridicule. You are free to flaunt society's norms, and society is free to make fun of you. Deal with it.

Michael said...

How many of these people are there? Or is this like the ratio of African Americans to the rest of the population as judged by watching television and t.v. advertising? Ditto your average gay person. Watching popular media one would think that half the population is black, twenty five percent gay and the rest diverse. The trans are elbowing in on this fantasy.

Crazy Jane said...

In discussions with another person, I don't call the person "they." I say "you." If I were discussing this teacher in a conversation with another, I would refer to "Leo" and forget the Ms./Mr. niceties, even if the other person was a child.

Schools are supposed to be focused on student learning, not teachers' issues. Troubled children occasionally deflect attention from the schoolwork, but they are children and it is appropriate to help them in ways that return their attention to the matters at hand.

Not so with teachers. For a teacher to use personal issues to divert energy from a school's mission is unprofessional; it is similarly unprofessional for other adults in the school to allow themselves to be distracted by such matters.

damikesc said...

There's a line between being honest and just being a dick. Seems like a lot of them were just being dicks.

Bruce Hayden said...

"The pronoun "they" does not refer to a single human being of any or both sexes. I am surprised that Althouse (seemingly) endorses its use to refer to a neutral-gender person."

Maybe it isn't traditional, but I have taken to using it as the non-gendered version of the gendered nominative, singular or plural. Much better, in my view, than, say, "ze" or "zem" (not really sure what those "pronouns" are supposed to mean these days). The problem, as I see it, is that the (real) male pronouns were traditionally used when gender was indefinite (or deliberately obscured), but the assumption that, say, "he", might apply to a female type person has weakened to the extent that using it implies strongly that the subject thereof is (at least presently) is of the male persuasion. The alternative to using "they" then is either to use "he or she" (or, alternating, "she or he"), or use something made up like "ze", when the goal is to obscure the (present) gender of the subject.

Bruce Hayden said...

"What is the difference between this person and Rachel Dolezal rubbing dirt on herself and declaring herself to be black?"

I sent a link to The story of Rachel Dolezal gets even more bizarre to a good friend in Spokane last night with the caption of "Local celebrity makes the news again".

"The transgender thing used to be called "Gender dysphoria" back when it was abnormal"

Would they have classified her as exhibiting "racial dysphoria"?

Gahrie said...

When is this obsession over the English language going to be extended to other languages? Many are much more patriarchal than English. Take Spanish for example:

father - padre
mother - madre
parent - padre

Could you imagine the hysterical meltdown if the English word for parent was father?

Fernandinande said...

"Leo Soell’s health journey was never normal. From early teenage years, they struggled with mysterious symptoms and ailments that often went unexplained.

So when Soell suspected they had cancer at age 24, it should have been no surprise that a year later, this self diagnosis would be correct. But before that diagnosis was confirmed, Soell was met with months of healthcare practices that didn’t meet their needs."

ALP said...

Sometimes I wonder if adults that work all day long in the presence of children develop child-like behaviors and points of view. I mean, we assume that kids look to adults to model their behavior and the phenomena of behavior "rubbing off" only goes one way - up and towards maturity.

What if it goes the other way too?

Birches said...

What Crazy Jane said. This story could have used the I'm skeptical tag. I don't believe this harassment actually happened.

SukieTawdry said...

Sounds like a lot of the teachers in this school are quite immature. At the same time, "gender neutrality" is a belief system. What form of address were her students instructed to use?

Lewis Wetzel said...

One reason that the idea of sexless humans is not tenable is that we cannot be biologically sexless and remain healthy. The hormones that produce secondary sexual characteristics affect the pituitary gland and dramatically reduce the production of growth hormones. People who do not undergo puberty do not remain children. They appear freakish and suffer health issues as result of their unbalanced production of growth hormones.

rcocean said...

I find the whole trans-gender thing incredibly boring. I wondered what the next SJW cause would be after Gay marriage, and this is it.

I suppose after they've rammed all the trans-gender stuff down everyone's throat, the next SJW cause will be polygamy. I believe that's in the Constitution, we just don't know it yet.

eric said...

There has been a long string of faux hate crimes, committed by those very people the crime was supposed to be against.

One of the strongest, leftist, bastions left in the united States is our education system. I find it really hard to believe any of these things happened as she says they did. With the only exception of the kids insisting on using she.

Static Ping said...

$60K is "go away" money. It's being paid because it would cost more to litigate it and/or they don't want to bother with the hassle of politically incorrectness. (This is Oregon.) The veracity of the accusations is irrelevant.

The deviousness of the transgender movement is how invasive it is. It requires that other people (1) deny basic biology, (2) use words that do not exist and/or use words in ways that are obviously wrong, and (3) have intimate moments violated in the bathroom, locker room, etc., where individuals feel most vulnerable. It is a movement that demands absolute acceptance of the outright lies of people who are, at best, mentally unstable. While I decry rudeness and harassment, her demands are rude and harassing to everyone who does not share her delusions. This is roughly equivalent of forcing others to follow a particular religion against their will.

n.n said...

Social liberals target prepubescent boys and girls for transgender conversion therapy is the real story but not news.

They Daily Caller story is real. The Oregonian is "fake news" that peddles its wares through emotional extortion, full of speculation, innuendo, and projection.

Crazy Jane said...

I get that a growing number of people are unsure about their gender identities or transitioning to new ones. These are personal issues, between them and their surgeons/psychiatrists.

Where I draw the line is at revising the language wholesale to accommodate these matters. English has more than enough quirks as it is.

"They" and "them" are not singular pronouns, but plural pronouns referring to people -- not individual persons or companies or organizations. If you take a little care, it is easy to speak and write your way around these linguistic land mines.

I'm fine with the generic "he," when the antecedent is an unspecified human, but I can put up with the generic "she," even though it seems more than a little twee and forced. The singular "they," never.

I'm fine with mankind, but I am flexible enough to deal with "humankind."

Similarly, I didn't mind when hurricane names stopped being all female and the names switched back and forth with male ones. It's a pity Katrina wasn't Karl instead, right? So unfair.

I'm with Shakespeare: sound and fury, signifying nothing. Also self-absorbed, juvenile, anti-intellectual and borderline pathetic.

Think of the Latin-based languages in which EVERY noun is gendered. Strangely, the people who speak those languages do not appear uniquely oppressed by the patriarchy.

Sam L. said...

I don't trust The OREGONIAN.

Sean Gleeson said...

Sorry, Althouse, but I don’t see much in this story to support your claim that “There was a lot of harassment against this teacher” or that she was treated by her coworkers with less respect than convention dictates. And the DC Caller headline is not deceptive as I read it. I’m happy to explain my reasoning of course.

Looking at the particular allegations, the most serious one is “Someone smeared Vaseline on Soell's cabinets.” That could be harassment (though not “a lot of harassment”) if it were done deliberately by a coworker. Without knowing any more facts about it, it is not so much harassment as “a thing that happened.” I guess we are just supposed to assume that it was not, say, a student who did that? Or an accident — someone had greasy hands and opened the cabinet looking for a paper towel? Or Soell herself, so there would be at least one actual instance of harassment to talk about?

And then there is this, “Others conspired to prevent Soell from using the school's lone gender-neutral bathroom.” This is literally a conspiracy theory. How do you prevent a person from using a particular bathroom? Who are the “Others”? And besides “conspiring,” what did they do, exactly? I would need details of what actually happened, before believing it amounted to harassment, or even a real occurrence of any sort.

Someone “yelled insults in the school hallway.” Who? A coworker, a student, a visitor? What insults? Were they directed at Soell, or did she overhear “someone” insulting “someone” else? Was this “someone” reprimanded in any way?

Leaving aside these incidents perpetrated by “someones” who I am just going to assume are not coworkers (or else the story would have identified them as such), what is left?

The rest of her complaints are certainly not harassment, or even a lapse of common courtesy. “[C]oworkers continuously called Soell "she," "lady" or "Miss Soell." But those are not insults; those are polite and respectful forms of address. The coworkers addressing Miss Soell as Miss Soell were obeying your commandment “you'd better display traditional etiquette and decency” to the letter.

And since these are the only allegations of misbehavior by actual employees of the school, I think the headline was not far from the truth by saying she was paid because she was called “she.”

buwaya puti said...

The goose-step is traditional in the Prussian and other Germanic armies of the early 18th century, very shortly after also picked up by the Russians.
It's independent of ideology.

Sebastian said...

"but if you want to be taken seriously as traditional, you'd better display traditional etiquette and decency." Real "traditional" etiquette depended on shared norms and reciprocity. We traditionals are very happy to demonstrate that etiquette, but we don't believe in civility bullshit strategically used to subvert our actual values. Progs are bent on destroying the culture--transgenderism just happens to be the current cutting edge. When ruthlessly attacked by the indecency of prog culture warriors, decency in the defense of decency is no virtue.

Gospace said...

And now she informs the family she wants to go back to the husband she dumped when she decided she was a lesbian.

Unless he's also insane, he should be holding a big "NO!" sign in front of her.

BTW, the rest of us aren't required to go along with delusional people's delusions. When a same sex couple tells me they're married, I feel free to laugh at them, because they're not. Doesn't matter what the law says. What are they going to do, sue me? Lot's of other delusions out there I feel free to laugh at.

Craig said...

The arguments against the singular "they" are laughable--especially those grounded in the idea that it is an obvious rule that "they" is plural. Sorry Lewis Wetzel and Crazy Jane--you both seem very familiar with made-up rules from the Internet and cranks who don't understand language, but you do not seem very familiar with this corner of the English language, with the history of our pronouns (comfortable with the singular "you"?) or with widespread usage.

Ann Althouse said...

I didn't take a position on the pronouns.

I talked about etiquette and decency in interpersonal relationships.

Note that this isn't a woman demanding to be spoken of as a man or raising the issue whether she somehow really is a man. This is a person who is asking for no reference to be made to her sex. It's a request for privacy about her body.

Out of simple empathy, you could respect that.

You could also ask why a person's sex is considered properly in the public realm. Why don't we all demand privacy about the body parts we cover up and demand that others cover up. If they must be covered up, why do we feel entitled to talk about them?

Craig said...

That's a strange response. I even in denying you take a position on pronouns, you took a position on pronouns.

Gahrie said...

I talked about etiquette and decency in interpersonal relationships.

What is the proper etiquette in demanding that others participate in your neurosis/psychosis? Is it decent to demand that others participate?

Note that this isn't a woman demanding to be spoken of as a man or raising the issue whether she somehow really is a man.

How would that make a difference?

This is a person who is asking for no reference to be made to her sex.

Oops...you referred to her as "her"...I hope you have $60K hanging around....

It's a request for privacy about her body.

No, it is a demand that we participate in her sickness.

Out of simple empathy, you could respect that.

Out of empathy, I might indulge her...or I might suggest therapy, but there is nothing to respect.

If I declare myself king of the world tomorrow ...will you bow before me?

Fritz said...

rcocean said...
I find the whole trans-gender thing incredibly boring. I wondered what the next SJW cause would be after Gay marriage, and this is it.

I suppose after they've rammed all the trans-gender stuff down everyone's throat, the next SJW cause will be polygamy. I believe that's in the Constitution, we just don't know it yet.


Necrophilia; the very definition of a victimless crime.

Sean Gleeson said...

This case is analogous to that hilarious Monty Python skit: “I’m sorry, you have to say ‘dog kennel’ to Mr Lambert, because if you say ‘mattress’ he puts a bag over his head. I should have explained. Otherwise he’s perfectly all right.” Only, without the hilarity.

Althouse, reading after your latest comment, I am afraid I am not more convinced, or less confused, than before. Your original problem, as I remember it, was that the headline was deceptive, in claiming this teacher’s complaint was about being called "she." You said it was not about that at all, but rather about "a lot of harassment" from her coworkers. But the harassing actions by her coworkers amounted to calling her "she" and "Miss Soell" and similar honorifics. So, her complaint was essentially about being called "she," which corroborates the headline.

And still you say it is not about pronouns? Now it's merely that she “is asking for no reference to be made to her sex.” Okay. So, who, besides Soell and her lawyer, is making reference to her sex? Her coworkers, I suppose? And how? By using the pronouns “she” and “her,” right? Unless I missed a whole lot of sex references being made elsewhere, it is still about using the pronouns. If so, the DC Caller headline summarizes this case far more precisely than saying she suffered ”a lot of harassment.”

(N.B. I am really only defending the headline from your characterization that is was deceptive. I am not opining on the truth or merits of Soell’s case, or the school’s actions, or the settlement.)

southcentralpa said...

In the immortal words of Calvin and Hobbes: "There would be more civility in this world if people didn't take it as an invitation to walk all over you."

The usual suspects have a history of demanding "tolerance" and "decency" right up until about 15 milliseconds after they feel like they have the upper hand and then they drop the hammer. Perhaps they should start showing some etiquette towards those who are tolerant in the traditional sense but not supportive.