Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Journalism" or Transphobia?

"A jury found a transgender individual guilty of killing her roommate with a pickax Thursday...French, a transgender individual who identifies herself as a woman, was found guilty of killing Frank Johnson in 2007." Source.

If a person's gender identification does not bear a relationship to the crime that person committed, why is gender orientation relevant to the media coverage?

It isn't.

Imagine reading an article that said, "Bob Smith, a biological male with a heterosexual orientation, robbed a store." It's absurd.

Where gender identification is unrelated to the crime alleged, the only purpose in repeatedly mentioning that identity is for shock value--manifesting the writer's transphobia and/or playing on the transphobia of readers.

Perhaps the transphobia exhibited in this piece isn't blatant--perhaps it's simply implied. By calling out the "non-conforming" gender identities of trans people where their identities are unrelated to the issue at hand, the speaker reinforces an us-versus-them binary that, while more "courteous" than explicit hate speech, is equally as damaging. Frankly, the ease with which such back-handed transphobia slips into everyday "civil" discourse is much more alarming to me (think Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex).

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

Here is another example:

"Transgender woman pleads guilty to killing boyfriend"