A Lump of Coal for Reg Henry and Two for the Post-Gazette

It is nearly 2014 and we continue to have to battle with our alleged allies over issues like not using the word “transvestite” (or a thousand other words), especially our allies in the media.

Today, Reg Henry’s column in the Post-Gazette hit that low note once again.

Given Vladimir Putin’s ill treatment of gay people in Russia, perhaps the friskier type of students there will recruit transvestite imposters to take part in the curling events — they must know something about curling, what with their elaborate hairdos, and besides, nobody will notice because all eyes will be on the brooms. Failing that, maybe rogue choirs can sing a medley of show tunes instead of all those anthems.

Reg is a bit of a rambler so it took me awhile to figure out what the hell he was talking about – apparently, he’s reminding us that things can be funny? I don’t know. He seems like an amiable man, but also unlikely to give a flying fig about what the LGBTQ community actually cares about his choice of language.

The Post-Gazette has not reported – not a single line spared – on the brutal murder of two transgender women in nearby Cleveland earlier this month. Perhaps Reg is unaware that happened in backyard. But it is exactly why this is NOT funny.

Pittsburgh transgender
Reg Henry

People are being murdered (3 women in less than 8 months) two hours away from us. The Cleveland media is misgendering them (using the gender pronouns of the wrong gender, not the pronouns associated with their actual lived identity.) That’s why using a flippant “transvestite imposter” comment is ill-advised, especially in a column about humor. Cleveland isn’t laughing, Reg.

As I’ve pointed out many, many times – GLAAD has a useful media guide to explain the in’s and out’s of our community. The AP has a stylebook. The New York Times has a stylebook. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has … the personal opinions of whomever is writing the piece. That’s how KDKA roles, too.

So Pittsburgh will enter 2014 having achieved a dismal score of 72 out of 100 on municipal equality, the dearth of transgender protections accounting for most of the missed points. We also enter 2014 with media outlets that can veer from “homosexual” to “LGBT” in a single broadcast because there are no standards.

It is no longer acceptable to say that good intentions are good enough. I know this is an editorial decision (or a producer decision) but there’s no excuse. I’m so exasperated at having to keep pointing this out.

Reg, I think that Cemia Acoff, Betty Skinner and Brittany Sturgis deserve better from you. I hope you are appalled when you read about the manner of their deaths and start to put two and two together.

Click on the link for the Media Guide and educate yourself. Because there’s a story in Cleveland that you are overlooking.


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