No, I’m not ‘genderseason’: non binary activist misquoted and mocked by right-wing press speaks out

Dee Whitnell

A non binary activist who was misquoted by the right-wing press when talking about how gender expression can change with the seasons, has described the hate they received – even from the transgender community. 

Dee Whitnell, who founded the #TransKidsDeserveToGrowUp solidarity campaign, released a YouTube video earlier this month in which they discussed how transgender people might find themselves “changing or exploring [their] expression or gender identity depending on the season”. 

In the video, Whitnell talked about their own experiences with expression and how it changes throughout the year, as well as the concept of “genderseason” and how other trans folks might explore their expression.

“This isn’t saying that all trans individuals experience this because that’s just not the case, or that seasons determine your gender identity or expression. However, it can influence it,” Whitnell said.

“I feel more masculine in the summertime. I wear more masculine clothing, I wear shorts. I normally have my hair up more and I just feel more ‘boy’, whereas in the winter – for some reason – girl mode comes out and I’m loving skirts and dresses and having my hair down.”

The non binary video was subsequently misconstrued by the right-wing media, including Fox News and the Daily Mail, who twisted Whitnell’s words to suggest transgender people are literally identifying as seasons. 

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On a segment of Fox’s Jesse Watters Primetime, called DEI Thursday, the conservative political commentator took aim at Whitnell and used a short clip from the video to misrepresent what had been said.

“Bonfires, sandy beaches, pool parties, barbecues. Don’t you love summer? I love summer so much I’m thinking of identifying as it. It’s called gender season,” he said. “My pronoun: spring. But I might transition to summer.”  

Fox News’ use of Whitnell’s content has led to an influx of abusive and hateful comments on their social media profiles with people berating their identity and making defamatory claims.

Speaking to PinkNews, Whitnell said Fox didn’t contact them before the segment aired and they would happily have a conversation to present their perspective authentically. Fox News was “pushing this anti-trans agenda through misquoting me or taking just a segment [of the video] rather than bringing me on or wanting to talk further about it”, they claimed.

“The more information we get out there, the more likely somebody is to see that representation”

Whitnell discusses micro labels and nuanced concepts in relation to trans experiences on their social media platforms because some people might align in such a way without having the language to explain it.

“The more information we get out there, the more likely somebody is to see that representation, see themselves in it and therefore find their community”, they added.

“To those people who see it and think it’s somebody literally identifying as the season, it’s not. It’s just a way for trans people to explore their expression and identity, and [to] be able to put words to it. 

“I think it was used [by Fox News] in a way of being like: ‘oh, look what they’re doing now. They’re making up more nonsense’. Unfortunately, that’s something I’ve been experiencing in the trans community.

“It’s not only this pushback from cisgender individuals who don’t believe trans and non binary people exist but also trans people who don’t believe non binary people exist.” 

This photo of Whitnell led to a backlash online. (@kirk_protest_london)

And it’s the negative response from transgender people that’s hurt more than right-wing press coverage, with what the hate spreading to their other videos about trans youth. 

 “If a trans or queer person actively says: ‘No, you don’t exist [as a non binary person]’, that’s what hurts me and that’s more damaging to the community because we’re already facing so much from the outside. We don’t need to be in-fighting.” 

Some people even took aim at photos of Whitnell at a protest holding a placard that reads: “I don’t want to attend another trans kid’s funeral.”

They accused them of lying about having gone to a funeral, with some even demanding proof, even though Whitnell has spoken at length about their relationship with the family of Corei Hall.

“They don’t understand how it feels to be in a chapel and see a little yellow coffin being brought in of a young trans boy who you’ve never met, but you have such a connection to through family, [making] you weep alongside other individuals.

“They’ll never understand that. They’re commenting [about] things that I’ve just not been able to reply to because what can you say to people who say well, just don’t go to a funeral instead of ‘trans kids are dying’.

“I’m not hurt to talk about the Fox News thing but it’s raised alarms that people really do not care about trans young people right now and anyone who shows any sort of support is ridiculed.”

Despite the pain they do feel, they are used to people “picking apart” what they say and as a result have quite a tough skin. 

“I know that the work I’m doing and what I’m doing online, and outside the online space, is benefiting people and that’s all that matters. 

“I know the work that I and many others do, even though we get criticised and scrutinised by various organisations and people, matters and will actually save lives.”