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I recently passed an important milestone with my weekly podcast, “Just Listen to Yourself” – 200 shows. That’s about three years of content. I’ve covered hundreds of topics, as I endeavor to help people think critically about the world around them. I’ve done episodes on more controversial topics like Black Lives Matter, reparations, and even the n-word. I’ve also thought through seemingly benign issues, like the importance of small talk.
In short, I say a lot of things about a lot of things. I even won the Communicator Award for 2022 for saying some of those things.
The one thing I’ve been treading lightly on is transgender issues. In my writing, I’m very forward with my opinions. My opinions are my own, and this is a news and opinion website. But when it comes to the podcast, I belong to a network. My income is directly tied to the income of many others on my network. We rise and fall as a team, so I have the livelihood of others to think about when I’m addressing sticky, political topics. The one topic that will get an influencer or broadcaster canceled in the mainstream is the trans topic. I’ve kept all that in mind over the years of doing this show.
Except this week, I didn’t. This week, I posted an episode dedicated to words I’m sick of hearing and hope to do away with in 2023. It was meant to be a light-hearted, end-of-year episode, but I couldn’t help it — I stepped on the third rail…hard.
Two hours after the episode was posted, my biggest sponsor – Indeed.com – dropped me, citing “brand safety” issues. They didn’t get much more specific than that, but they didn’t need to. After 200 shows on some of the most controversial topics in the nation, the statement that tipped the cart for me was that men can’t be women and women cannot be men. Biology and science are where sponsors draw the line, apparently.
My colleague Nick Arama pointed out to me that one could draw a straight line between Rachel Levine (our chief public health officer) pressuring Big Tech to censor “gender misinformation” and podcasters like me losing partnerships for having an opinion.
This isn’t the first time I’ve lost a sponsor in this business. When I was co-hosting the “Smart Girl” podcast with Teri Christoph, we lost a sponsor because we questioned the “Me Too” narrative of the woman who got comedian Aziz Ansari cancelled, over what amounted to a bad date. We said nothing offensive, going to great lengths to see both sides, but it wasn’t enough. We didn’t toe the progressive line.
Ad revenue can be a very coercive perk, and the progressives who run Big Tech know this (another big reason to support our VIP subscription program).
My teenage daughter wonders why I can’t just mind my own business and let people be who they want to be. I’ve been trying, but those people don’t want to offer the same courtesy. My problem isn’t with how some people choose to identify themselves, or how they choose to live their own lives. My problem is that I am being asked to lie in order to support their identities. They seek to make a liar out of me…out of all of us…and I simply cannot tolerate it.
I once posted my frustrations about mask mandates on social media, only to be (unsurprisingly) met with a litany of “you selfish wench!” responses. One responder mocked, “Oh, poor you. Can’t even sacrifice your face for a few months to save lives!” I said then, and still say it now — it is not the sacrifice of my face that bothers me, it is the sacrifice of logic that I cannot abide by. Having compassion for people who struggle with their bodies is one thing. Denying reality is quite another.
In the interest of full disclosure, Indeed had already decided my podcast was on the bubble, but never because of topics. During my race for school board, my output dropped, which means my engagements dropped. Sponsorship depends on having thriving numbers. However, we were thrilled to hear they had renewed our partnership for 2023, after seeing that our numbers were spinning back up after a brutal election season. This most recent communication was not related to our output in 2022, and they made it clear that the content fell into a “grey area.”
You would think Indeed, and the progressives in Big Tech, would be excited to support a black, woman podcaster on a black-owned network. Isn’t that supposed to be our social justice priority? Supporting minority creativity to help balance the scales of systemic racism?
We know where the left’s support for black success stops.
I’ve written at length about why liberal, celebrity author J.K.Rowling’s stance on women’s rights and the trans issue is so important. She can afford the slings and arrows. She’s earned her fortune, and physical comfort is presumably not a worry for her for the rest of her life. Her wealth affords her a certain safety, which she has publicly recognized. We need more people like her to step up, people who can afford to withstand the pressure of cancel culture.
I am no Rowling. I am a struggling independent contractor. I don’t do “sensational.” I do “reason” and if you haven’t noticed, reasoning isn’t that fashionable these days. I live in the most expensive state in the union. I have a family, a son in college, and all the other obligations that come with modern life. I can’t afford to be punished for my honestly. But I can’t afford to not be honest, either.
This issue is bigger than me, or my comfort. Even if I can’t share Rowling’s financial comfort, I have a duty to share her honesty. The truth matters. If I sacrifice this truth, this time, it will only get easier and easier to compromise.
I thought long and hard about putting my ex-sponsors on blast. It’s probably not good form, but now that I’ve set up camp on the third rail, I’m probably burned with many other sponsors as well. If I felt confident that this censorship thing was being evenly applied, that would be one thing. We all know this is a one-way street. It’s time to put up a sign saying so.
Indeed had every right to sever our partnership. They’re a private company. I don’t dispute their authority to make their own decisions. I’m only telling everyone the truth, here.
It is not discrimination, or even controversial, to say out loud that it is medically impossible to change someone into the opposite gender. To say otherwise is a lie. To pretend the issue doesn’t exist is a lie.
And I cannot abide by a lie.
Here are the two episodes that triggered this controversy. Happy New Year to you all. May 2023 be the Year of Truth.