Oprah Redefines Normal with Pregnant 'Man'

Oprah Winfrey, who can take obscure books and with a single nod of approval send them rocketing to the top of the best seller list, has decided society needs a “new definition of what diversity means for everybody” and that we need to redefine “normal.”  This was the primary takeaway from her exclusive broadcast interview with Thomas Beatie, the transgendered “man” who is pregnant.

As CMI predicted, Oprah didn't challenge the falsehood that Thomas is a pregnant “man.”  At the end of the program she even declared, “I've been on television what seems like forever. You're my first pregnant man.”  In that way Oprah is like the reporters on ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's Early Show who also declared Thomas Beatie to be a pregnant man. 

But men don't have babies. They don't possess female reproductive organs. As several colleagues have noted, when you peel the onion of this story what you have is a pregnant woman. The news media and Oprah have completely ignored this truth.

Oprah's April 3rd interview was unique because the Beaties, Thomas and wife Nancy, were talking.  Up until this interview the mainstream media have been working off an article and picture that appeared on the gay news site Advocate.com.  GMA has given the story the most coverage as NewsBusters' Scott Whitlock noted here, with three stories in nine days.  But while Oprah's interview shed light on some topics that have no doubt sparked curiosity – like how the baby was conceived, why Thomas (who was born a female and named Tracy) didn't stay a lesbian, and the effects of testosterone on female genitalia – she continued to toe the progressive line by referring to Thomas as “he.” 

Oprah also interviewed Thomas's doctor and the couple's neighbors. All referred to Thomas as “he” though each mentioned the unusual aspects of the situation.


Dr. Kimberly James:  …it's a challenge to your thinking of what's normal.  …this is a challenging -- people's normal perceptions are going to be challenged.

George (the Beatie's neighbor): Obviously, it's a pretty unusual situation and it was unusual for me when I found out. I mean, it was kind of, you know, sexually-dyslexic for me to kind of put it together.

Oprah also interviewed Nancy's adult daughters from a previous marriage.  They told Oprah that Thomas and Nancy are “an incredible couple.”

Oprah: Ok. Well, Amber and Jen are Nancy's daughters from a previous marriage. Amber …when you first met Thomas, he was Tracy? Yeah. And how did you find out he was going to become a man?

Amber: You know, it was a natural progression. We saw that Tracy felt more like a male and you know, we come from a small community in Hawaii. So, I think it was just more of a relief than anything for us because he actually got to be who he is and there wasn't the confusion after that.

Oprah: Uh-huh. And then when you all heard about the pregnancy --hello. How was it, Jen?

Jen: Um, it was very exciting, actually. I mean, we kind of knew, I think, for almost about two years when you guys first told us that you were thinking about getting pregnant. After it kind of sunk in after a while, there probably was a little bit of jealousy going on, thinking that this little girl is going to have such a great life with Thomas and my mom. I mean, it's just going to be really interesting to see them -- see on the sidelines of me being a lot older and watching them be parents again. It's going to be very exciting.

Oprah: How do you feel about them being public and all that this means?

Jen: It's a little scary. We're scared for them. I don't know that the world's all that prepared, but they're just regular, boring people and a regular family.

Oprah's interview also revealed that Thomas and Nancy are scared too.  They told Oprah that even people in the transgender community have not been supportive of their going public with the story.  Nancy speculated that they would go into hiding if the media pressure became too much.

Which raises the question, why go on a show hosted by the reigning monarch of talk TV if you think you will need to go into hiding afterwards?  Could the fact that Thomas is “finishing a book he started when he was 17” have something to do with that decision?

Or is Oprah's devotion to the new bible of tolerance, The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, also at play?  Oprah mentioned the book three times in the course of the interview.  (It should be noted that she is hosting a webinar on the book which is drawing hundreds of thousands of participants each week to her Web site.)

Thomas: You know, I have a very stable male gender identity. I see pregnancy as a process and it doesn't define who I am.

Oprah: I got that.

Thomas: Yeah.

Oprah: I'm reading A New Earth. Ok, got it.


Oprah: … you were writing a piece about this … you wanted to ask everyone to 'embrace the gamut of human possibility and to define for themselves what is normal.' Do you think our country, this world, is ready for that?

Thomas: I do. I think that different is normal and love makes a family.

Oprah: Love makes a family.

Thomas: Yeah. That's all that matters. [audience applause]

Nancy: And there's all kinds of different families.

Oprah: And there's all kinds of different families. Well, it's interesting, because I heard that your neighbors were studying A New Earth, too, and that was helping them to wrap their brains around it. And as you all know, every Monday night we're doing the New Earth class online and you can download it at any time. And one of the things that Eckhart Tolle talks about is labels, how we're not our labels. We're not. We are consciousness come from the greater consciousness, and when you recognize that, the more people begin to recognize that, that's how we get to be a new earth. And I can't imagine, you know, 50 years from now, 100 years from now, whatever, however people choose to live in harmony with themselves and their community, I don't believe people will be judging it as they do now. I think we are evolving to a new way of being.

Thomas: Definitely.

Oprah: Yeah, and a new definition of what diversity means for everybody, and redefining normal. And I really applaud you for having the courage to do it.

Oprah's tacit endorsement of the Beaties' controversial choice should not be written off.  She is the most prominent media voice in America and one of the most prominent worldwide.  One would hope that she would respect that position of power by recognizing that many Americans find this story bizarre and unnatural.  She could use her platform to seek the other side on this provocative story and listen to the voices of those who say that Thomas is not a man.  Surely in her “new definition of what diversity means” there is room for people with traditional values and views.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.