Conservative political commentator and Daily Wire host Michael Knowles spoke at the University of Mississippi on Thursday, May 4 in an event put on by the campus chapter of Young Americans for Freedom.
To a full house of students, faculty, and community members that were overwhelmingly enthusiastic about his appearance, Knowles devoted the majority of his speech to anti-transgender rhetoric and discussion of conservative values.
“A man remains a man. Even if he chops himself up and calls himself Sheila. He’s still a man as he mutilates his appearance away from who he is, and what he’s meant to be. His nature doesn’t change. He just becomes an uglier version of himself,” Knowles said.
The acceptance of “transgenderism”, according to Knowles, is one of many political efforts made by liberals in order to manipulate common symbols. He argued the liberals are “perverting” and “manipulating” symbols to sway society’s view of the world and its comprehension of fundamental concepts in their favor.
“Transgenderism is represented by a flag made up of baby blue and pink stripes, colors that we associate with newborn babies, that we associate with innocence. This is a profoundly significant symbol in that the activists portray the transgender transition as a sort of a rebirth. None of these symbols convey the darker side of transgenderism,” Knowles said.
A Q&A session followed the speaking portion of the event.
Emily, a graduating senior and aspiring educator used the Q&A to share a story of her experience engaging with a transgender student who preferred to use they/them pronouns, which was conflicting for her, as the use of such pronouns did not align with her beliefs.
“I chose to just not use any pronouns at all. I used ‘him’ throughout my entire speech when referring to the student, and I tried to use all the ways of not using a pronoun,” Emily said.
Concerned about similar situations in the future, Knowels encouraged her to teach at places that aligned with her values, but above all else to “never lie.”
As a means of resistance, some students like sophomore accounting major Luke Antinnes used the Q&A session to ask gag questions of Knowles. Antiness brought up Knowles’ collegiate role in the student film “The House of Shades,” in which Knowels played a gay character who engages in an on-screen sex scene with another man.
“I just want to know, do you still have the thong you wore during the gay sex scene in ‘The House of Shades?’” Antinnes asked.
Knowles affirmed that he did not keep the thong.
“I get a real kick out of the libs telling us that all this LGBT stuff is totally fine and great. But then they insinuate that it’s a bad thing to play these characters,” Knowles said.
Earlier in his speech, Knowles reduced the LGBTQ+ identities to “weird sex stuff.”
Though there were gag questions, the majority of questions were asked in earnest, requesting advice from Knowles on everything from how to support a military that, according to the asker, is becoming too “woke” to how to let a family member know you disagree with their decision to use pronouns that differ from the ones that match their sex assigned at birth.
The panel ended with Knowles reaffirming to the audience that there needs to be an end to “woke jargon,” “fake pronouns,” and the “exultation of ugliness.”
There were no visible protestors at the event. In fact, Knowles frequently referenced Ole Miss as if it was the last bastion of the “normalcy” he repeatedly mentioned in his speech.
During his April 18 appearance at the University of Pittsburgh, the resistance to his appearance was so strong it received national media attention. Protestors went as far as to light a body dummy with a picture of Knowles’ face on it on fire.
Earlier this year, Knowles drew immense backlash after saying that “transgenderism should be eradicated from public life entirely—the whole preposterous ideology, at every level” during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Despite the absence of visible protestors, there are many who disagree with Knowels’ ideas.
Jamie Harker, director of the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender studies spoke to the way the transgender identity has been leveraged into an issue that it isn’t.
“Unfortunately, for at least the past five years, stoking fears about ‘transgenderism’ as an ‘ideology’ has been a central focus for many online forums. ‘Transgenderism’ is being used as a wedge issue, and the misinformation contained in these provocative commentary pieces has resulted in a host of harmful and discriminatory legislation across the nation,” Harker said.
The American Medical Association asserts that trans and nonbinary gender identities, “are normal variations of human identity and expression.”
Harker urged everyone to take advantage of special resources accessible at universities to learn about trans identities.
“There has never been a greater need for the deeper understanding about gender and sexuality that informed scholarship provides,” Harker said. “Universities have always been places that preserve and create knowledge through research. I encourage students at the University of Mississippi to take advantage of the expertise of the faculty and learn about trans history and trans identity.”
Hal Fox contributed.