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SARAH VINE: Calvin Klein’s Surreal Ad Downplays the Trans Debate

When it comes to the debate on trans issues, I have one simple rule. Go for it. If you were born a man but want to live a woman, go for it. If you are a woman who wants to be a man, go for it. Remember you are not the only one with rights and understand that for this to work we all need to respect each other’s opinions – even if they happen to differ.

In the end, it’s not about gender, it’s about humanity and how we treat our fellow human beings, women or, for that matter, anyone in between.

That said, there is a small minority of the trans community whose motives and modus operandi I really can’t fathom.

For example, I don’t understand why, if you have functioning male genitalia and enjoy sex with women, you’d rather identify as a trans lesbian rather than a man. It just seems like a lot of time, effort and grief to finally achieve the same result.

Fashion Statement: Pregnant Transman Roberto Bete with Partner, Transwoman Erica Feeha, in Calvin Klein’s Advert

Or maybe not. Just ask Lia Thomas, the trans swimmer who insists on being categorized as female despite all of the above. Does the fact that I dare to ask this question make me a transphobe and a bigot? Certainly in the eyes of some.

But from my point of view I really want to know more. It’s a genuine question.

And here’s another one. Why would a trans man who has undergone hormone therapy to achieve a masculine appearance — grow a beard and body hair, develop an Adam’s apple and undergo surgery to remove his breasts — decide to conceive?

Wouldn’t it be easier and simpler for a woman to have a child—with intact and functioning hormones and breasts—and then transition?

Apparently not if you’re Roberto Bete, a pregnant trans man who, along with his partner Erica Feeha, a trans woman, became the new face of Calvin Klein underwear last week.

As part of a Mother’s Day campaign in America, and reportedly a tribute to moms everywhere, the heavily pregnant Bete can be seen in the brand’s iconic knickers, accompanied by a quote from the dad-to-be, explaining: “We can reproduce biologically or from the heart… our role in the world is to love and be loved.’

Aside from the fact that the heart isn’t yet a reproductive organ (although you never know in this day and age), the first thing I noticed about these photos wasn’t the swollen belly and the self-indulgent pose, but how brutal those scars on his chest looked. The more I looked, the less I saw a “celebration of diversity” and more someone who, at least to me, seemed deeply conflicted.

I don't understand why, if you have functioning male genitals and like to have sex with women, you'd rather identify as a trans lesbian rather than a man.  It just seems like a lot of time, effort and grief to finally achieve the same result.  Or maybe not.  Ask Lia Thomas (pictured), the trans swimmer who insists on being categorized as female despite all of the above

I don’t understand why, if you have functioning male genitals and like to have sex with women, you’d rather identify as a trans lesbian rather than a man. It just seems like a lot of time, effort and grief to finally achieve the same result. Or maybe not. Ask Lia Thomas (pictured), the trans swimmer who insists on being categorized as female despite all of the above

Here’s a person who, after the painful process of turning the female body into something as close to a man as possible, given the limits of science, has now presumably pumped it up with a whole new set of hormones to produce an outcome – pregnancy – that could have been achieved naturally in the first place.

On a human level, I find this deeply disturbing. What must it feel like to want to be two things at once, both male and female, and for one to require a surgical mutilation of the other? What is the mental process that leads one to such a state of confusion? Or am I the one confused here, unable to see what’s before my eyes as a “beautiful celebration of diversity”?

Maybe it’s just me – maybe my brain is just too fanatical or atrophied to accept this ‘new normal’. But it is not hatred that I feel, or fear; I would never want to harm Bete or anyone like him. I really don’t understand why anyone would want to do all this to themselves. Or, for that matter, which reputable doctor would make it possible.

And it’s this, I think, that gets to the heart of what worries me most about images like that of pregnant Bete. They downplay what is really a very difficult, complex and painful process. They turn a serious condition that requires careful treatment – gender dysphoria – into a fashionable style choice.

Calvin Klein is a big brand, much appreciated among teenagers. And if impressionable young minds concluded that what’s happening in this photo has anything to do with fashion, they’d be mistaken.

I may have questions, but I’m sure of one thing. Being transgender is not a chore for people to jump on to win more sports leagues or get more Instagram followers. And it is certainly not a means of selling pants.

I wonder if Elon Musk delaying his decision to buy Twitter has anything to do with Bitcoin’s collapse. The Tesla billionaire bought $1.5 billion of the stuff in February.

At the time, it traded at about $45,000 apiece. Now it is about $29,000, and some predict it could go lower. That must hurt, even if you’re the richest man on earth.

I wonder if Elon Musk is delaying his decision to buy Twitter maybe has something to do with Bitcoin's collapse?

I wonder if Elon Musk is delaying his decision to buy Twitter maybe has something to do with Bitcoin’s collapse?

Courage of the Family of Dame Deborah

Like everyone else, I am in awe of bowel cancer patient Dame Deborah James and the way she approaches death with such strength and positivity.

But my heart goes out to her husband and two children who, when she is finally laid to rest and the world’s attention is elsewhere, will face the task of rebuilding their lives without her. Now that I’ve seen this happen with friends, I know how painfully difficult and lonely a journey this can be. I hope and pray that they—and the many families like them—get the help and support they need.

Like everyone else, I am in awe of bowel cancer patient Dame Deborah James and the way she approaches death with such strength and positivity.  But my heart goes out to her husband and two children

Like everyone else, I am in awe of bowel cancer patient Dame Deborah James and the way she approaches death with such strength and positivity. But my heart goes out to her husband and two children

A green light to empty calories

I agree with Lord Bethell. The former health minister appeared on the Today program yesterday to argue the unpopular view (awarded ten points for bravery) that the government is wrong to backtrack on plans to ban BOGOFs on junk food as part of a package of ideas to address costs-life crisis. In response to the usual one-dimensional: “So you’re saying poor people should starve?” line of questions, he clung tightly to his guns.

The truth is that cheap food doesn’t have to be unhealthy (just ask Bootstrap chef Jack Monroe). But it is also a false economy, as any savings will eventually be negated by the enormous – personal and public – costs of the obesity crisis.

If the government really wants to help people who struggle to get food on the table, it should encourage supermarkets to offer discounts on healthy ingredients, not give the green light to more empty calories.

Boris Johnson is as right about the cheese as he is about the dangers of working from home. Even if it’s toast for me, with butter and Marmite, or the occasional dollop of marmalade.

For the first time in ages I was really looking forward to the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s not just that the situation in Ukraine is a reminder that as cheesy as these things are, they represent something very important (in the case of Norway, the chance to dress up as giant yellow foxes); it is also that it took place in my hometown of Turin. My mother said she has never seen so many stylishly dressed young singles.

The chance to dress up as giant yellow foxes... Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest

The chance to dress up as giant yellow foxes… Norway in the Eurovision Song Contest

Reports say Putin continues to feel unwell. As Basil Fawlty said, “Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.”

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