Victor Davis Hanson on the left’s ‘essentialization’ of sexual identity: They want the publicity upside

Victor Davis Hanson on the left’s ‘essentialization’ of sexual identity: They want the publicity upside

Fox News host Jesse Watters spoke with Hoover Institution senior fellow Victor Davis Hanson about the felony theft charges against Sam Brinton, a senior Energy Department official, Tuesday on “Jesse Watters Primetime.” 

Brinton was charged with allegedly stealing Vera Bradley luggage and its contents, reportedly worth around $2,300, at a Minneapolis airport in September. 

The DOE’s deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition identifies as non-binary.

Sam Brinton was put on leave by the Department of Energy. 

Sam Brinton was put on leave by the Department of Energy. 

Hanson told host Jesse Watters why the incident is blurred by Brinton’s sexual identity and not the alleged crime. 

“[You can] live in society as long as you don’t essentialize your race or your gender or your sexual persuasion, but when you make that essential to who you are, then you have to play by the rules and if you have a downside, people are going to say, ‘Well, that’s part of your essential character,’” he said. 


“So that’s his problem, that he started out releasing pictures of himself in drag, talking about being a transgender person. And that became his essence. If that’s his essence, and then he commits theft, and then he lies about it to the police, and those are felonies, then he’s going to be identified as a transgender person.”

Brinton is one of the federal government's first non-binary officials. 

Brinton is one of the federal government’s first non-binary officials. 

Brinton reportedly lied to police about stealing the luxury suitcase before claiming responsibility. 

Hanson said Brinton, as one of the first federal government non-binary officials, should have touted qualifications for the job instead of linking experience to sexual identity. 

“If he’d have just said, ‘You know what? This is incidental to who I am. I have a very impressive CV, I’m qualified for the job, it just happens to be that I have a different sexual outlook than other people,’ and then dropped it, I don’t think he would be in as much trouble, but when you essentialize your identity, and it becomes you, then you have to play by those rules that you’ve set for yourself,” Hanson said. “I think that’s his problem.”


Brinton's official government portrait.

Brinton’s official government portrait.
(Department of Energy)

Watters agreed, saying he doesn’t care about sexual identity or how Brinton dresses, but wants qualified candidates for the job. 

“There were a lot of concerns when the guy applied for the job. And there were reports this guy wasn’t that qualified, and they overlooked all this stuff because they wanted, it looks like, to get a guy out there to say, ‘Hey, I’m with the trans community,” Watters said. “Now, this doesn’t make the trans community look good. The trans community is looking at this like, ‘Oh my God, can you believe this guy?’ This is not a good look.”


Hanson said the left essentializes race, gender and sexual identity for political purposes. 

“They essentialize it. Then they take the downside along with the publicity upside. I don’t think they want the upside, but they’re not willing to say, ‘Well, don’t characterize me as transgender,’ and I think that’s the problem.”  

If charged, Brinton could receive a five-year sentence, $10,000 fine or both.


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