Bethenny Frankel’s refusal to back down made her a fiery contender during her time as a Real Housewife.
The former Bravolebrity has been desperately drawing attention to her podcast this month with hot takes about a current star.
Her latest promotional bid took a disappointingly and disturbingly transphobic turn.
We don’t know why Bethenny thought that it was okay to discuss a young girl’s genitals on her podcast, but she’s apparently not backing down.
Bethenny Frankel’s 11-year-old daughter, Bryn, recently started another year of school.
At the beginning of the year, it’s normal for students to share basic information with teachers and classmates.
Names, nicknames, pronouns, sometimes an anecdote about what they did that summer to introduce themselves.
“We have to go into the fact that I did a Zoom for my daughter’s school and [had] the pronouns conversation with each teacher, each parent, each child,” Bethenny noted on her podcast.
“And my daughter says in school, too, that everybody has to say their pronouns,” she continued.
“And,” Bethenny said of Bryn, “my daughter didn’t even know what hers were.”
Parts of speech sometimes takes a wayside to other aspects of the curriculum, for better or for worse.
(The other day, an adult professional friend admitted to me that they don’t really know what adverbs are — I jokingly answered that they add to verbs, which is true)
I, you, he, she, they, him, her, who, each other, me … these are all pronouns, but they are not all interchangeable and some vary according to factors like gender.
There is a select group of transphobic reactionaries who react negatively to the mere mention of pronouns.
To her credit, Bethenny is not one of them (though we don’t really give out points for the minimum of human decency).
Unfortunately, her next anecdote is what has earned her tremendous and well-deserved backlash.
Bethenny began to poorly describe a story about summer camp — one that Bryn didn’t even attend.
She said that she heard about a “person with a penis, who identifies as being a girl.”
So, a trans girl. You can just say that without making it weird.
We’re not sure why Bethenny felt the need to bring up this child’s genitals or describe her so weirdly.
We could just as accurately describe Bethenny as a “person with a vagina, who identifies as being a woman.” But why would we want to?
If you think that her awkward, tone deaf description — bad but forgivable — is the worst of it, though … brace yourselves.
The trans girl in question bunked with other girls, because that’s how summer camp cabins work.
“So,” Bethenny gossiped, “the other girls saw a penis.”
“They’re 9, 10 years old, so the parents obviously weren’t that happy. …” she complained.
Bethenny then said: “A penis often goes into a vagina often so they might not want that visual so soon.”
At the risk of stooping to Bethenny’s level, does she know a lot of 9-year-olds who are boning each other?
All of her choices here are so weird, both at face value and in terms of what she is choosing to insinuate.
Bethenny then announced how she would do things differently if raising a trans child.
She said that she would “want my child to go to another camp where there were kids in the same situation.”
Ah, yes, seperate but equal summer camps sounds like a brilliant solution.
“Not every situation is set up to make someone thrive,” Bethenny said.
“I know parents who won’t send their children to very athletic school because they’re … not jocks,” she added.
“So they’re gonna set them up for not feeling successful,” Bethenny continued. (Does being cis help at summer camp?)
“You can’t make every situation fit,” Bethenny accused. “The camp didn’t think it through.”
Apparently, Bethenny thinks that next summer, they girls cabin should have a “CIS ONLY” sign slapped onto it.
Assuming that whatever the hell Bethenny is talking about happened at all, of course.
Don’t worry — Bethenny wasn’t done digging that hole, as she next offered her opinion on trans kids using the bathroom.
“What happens if a child isn’t ready to make a decision?” she asked oddly.
It doesn’t sound like she’s asking about the decision to come out — a delicate prospect. It sounds like she is fundamentally misunderstnading gender.
Bethenny also decided to sprinkle in some homophobia and biphobia, which always pair nicely with transphobia.
“Don’t a lot of girls in college have a lesbian phase and then they realize that they’re not?” she theorized.
It is 2021 and we don’t have time to unpack that … but we’ll do it anyway.
In a homophobic society, sometimes people will explore their sexuality but ultimately decide to identify as straight.
It’s easier, especially if they don’t want to face the marginalization that comes with identifying as bisexual.
No matter what that person chooses to call their personal history, there’s no such thing as a “lesbian phase.”
Bethenny said a lot about “hearing” things where trans people decided to “unmake that decision,” whatever that means.
“What does that mean for that camp? What does that mean for that bunk?” she asked.
Bethenny continued: “Maybe a mother isn’t ready for her child to see a penis in a bunk and understand that child identifies as a girl.”
Surely a child who identifies as a girl — like, one assumes, Bryn does — would have an easy time understanding that other girls exist.
In fact, to hear Bethenny tell it, Bryn has a solid understanding of pronouns, gender identity, and more.
Bethenny called it “amazing,” but said that she’s not sure that she’d want Bryn housed with a trans girl.
Bethenny’s deeply weird rambling about children’s genitals and things that she claims to have heard are disappointing.
But let’s be clear — there’s no shame in not understanding a topic, especially if you were brought up in a time with discussions about gender were deliberately suppressed.
All that Bethenny had to do was ask. She could have just, say, spoken to a trans person, or to someone who knows trans people.
In fact, Bethenny could have invited trans folks who specialize in explaining basic concepts to old people onto her podcast.
(Please, don’t walk up to a random trans person to ask — use online resources or someone who wants to explain their existence)
Instead of that, Bethenny made a total ass of herself with explicitly transphobic comments.
Worse, as you can see in these tweets, Bethenny has not only ignored but mocked the people calling her out on it.
Loudly insisting that nothng that she said was transphobic, she is drawing in numerous supportive comments from full-time transphobic troll accounts.
Part of being a mature adult means acknowledging that you can make mistakes but also learn and grow, not just apologizing when someone makes you.
It’s never too late to shut the f–k up (it’s free!).
But whether it’s stubbornness, a desire to promote her podcast through controversy, or deliberate malice, Bethenny is keeping at it.
Bethenny won’t read this, but in case anyone reading is wondering about any of what Bethenny said, let’s break it down as quickly as possible.
Gender is not genitals. Gender is not chromosomes. For that matter, it’s not pronouns.
It’s an elaborate social construct that varies across time and cultures, and numerous genders outside of our specific gender binary — from Two Spirit to sekhet to kothi — have existed for millennia.
It’s not uncommong for children to have a solid grasp of their gender, whether or not it matches what was assigned to them at birth based upon a glance at their genitals.
There is nothing inherently sexual about a trans person, and that is especially true when we’re talking about young children.
We are again baffled by Bethenny’s bringing up this girl’s genitals. Sometimes bunkmates see each other changing. That’s life.
There are so many resources to patiently explain what it means to be trans that we have to assume that Bethenny isn’t interested in knowing or understanding anything.