It’s Pride month and this is one gay man who is frankly pretty damn scared at the way American culture is going. On one side we’ve got far right Republicans banning Gay Republicans from attending the convention, there’s a Supreme Court that is doing all it can to return us to the glorious 1800s (yes there’s a mean spirited snarky comment to be made about Ginni and Clarence Thomas, but I digress), and on the other side we have the Left eating itself alive, much to delight and glee of the evangelical right.

The factions that are created seems to be digging in their positions more and more and I was reminded of this on  Sunday night. My friend Paul and I usually have dinner then watch 60 minutres. This past Sunday we were at a new to us Italian restaurant in town, La Puglia on Wilshire Blvd, next to my favorite breakfast joint, Bagel Nosh. It was a pretty spectacular dinner, the environment is gorgeous and the food was delish. Service was delightfully attentive but not annoyingly so. It’s a pricier place for great Italian but definitely worth it. 60 Minutes this week had a segment where Leslie Stahl interviewed Trevor Noah. She asked him a pointed question, did Dave Chappelle cross a line with his commentary on transgender people? Noah did a masterful job of navigating such a heated and fraught question by saying that it very much depends on which side of the line you’re on. His answer was brilliant, and quite clearly he’s wanting to avoid being pegged with a position.

I however, am willing to stand up and give my thoughts on the issue this Pride month. I’m sure this is going to bring me some heat, but I’m going to say that I don’t believe Chappelle is being transphobic. I’ve watched a great deal of his comedy and find him to be an astute observer of the human condition who, dare I say it, much like me, is willing to say things people are thinking but won’t admit to.

I watched the Chappelle segment that drew so much heat, and after thinking it through, I think he makes a really valid point. One that is actually being recognized by FINA – the Fédération Internationale de Natation or International Swimming Federation, who this week has released a new rule that transwomen who experienced puberty as males, cannot compete as women, but will be able to compete in an open category.

Both Chappelle and FINA are recognizing something that is a crucial element I believe, and that is that a transwoman, one who was male and transitioned to female, has had a fundamentally different life experience than a cisgender (female since birth) female. What Chappelle identifies, I believe, is the cognitive dissonance that much of middle America is experiencing with the statement that a transwoman is the same as a cisgender woman. Not equivalent – the same. That “sameness” is what fries many a brain, for it ignores the obvious reality of the situation.

I think that the controversy is why the Left is losing the middle of America. The Left that fails to recognize the difference, that continues to claim that trans is cis, is what is leading to the Rightward swing of our politics and our culture.

Chappelle never said that a transwoman should be treated less than, should be treated disrespectfully, he in fact has called for everyone to be treated with respect. But that doesn’t mean you ignore basic, obvious differences. A transwoman is biologically a fundamentally different female than one who is cisgender. The simple fact that a transwoman has not had menses, is what makes them different from a cisgender female who has. 

When we engage in the Orwellian doublespeak that one thing is the same as another, when it is clearly not so, we experience cognitive dissonance. Once that dissonance occurs, it is an easy jump to just dismiss the speaker and that results in people digging in to their positions deeper and we end up with two sides that are speaking past each other.

I believe that is what Noah was speaking of in his masterful answer to Stahl. I believe it is why our country is streaming back to the 1800s, and I believe that when people like Chappelle speak an obvious truth and the Left wants to silence him, they are signing their own dismissal papers.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.  He welcomes your questions and comments.  He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra