I stopped reading the Sun years ago, not being able to take the sensationalist, pearl-clutching, chicken-littling right-wing rhetoric. I got tired of the blatant objectification that is the Sunshine Girl, Michael Coren's rampant bigotry and homophobia, and hell I even got sick of the snarky little comments in the letters section.
For a publication that started out as a youthful voice in the face of the Old Guard of Canadian news media, they're not exactly a bastion of progressive thinking.
So I guess I shouldn't be surprised when they show a distinct lack of sensitive for trans issues, by referring to Former-now-current Miss Universe contestant Jenna Talackova as a he/she on their front cover.
I had hopes when I saw the headline on their homepage that read "A True Heroine" that Mike Stroebel's column about Talackova would be a little less insensitive and transphobic, but again, I was disappointed.
Disappointed but not surprised.
I can't put my finger on it but both yesterday's column and the follow-up today seemed to ring with a bit of snarky condescension. Maybe it's the reference to 'men-turned-women' and their 'advantages' in the beauty pageant circuit. Because, sure expecting a contestant to drop trou in order to prove that they 'meet gender requirements' when none of the other contestants are expected to (I could be wrong.. is the lack-of-swimsuit or 'most-legitimate-vagina' competition a new thing I haven't heard of?) is nothing compared to the advantage of leaner muscles and no monthly bloating.
The Sun's lack of sensitivity not-withstanding, there are issues with the idea of having to 'prove' oneself as a woman in order to compete that are wholly problematic. Let's pretend for a minute that there aren't a MILLION AND HALF things about Miss Universe that are problematic. One's gender and how they identify goes so much deeper than simply what kind of equipment resides in one's crotchal area. I, for one, even without her having had gender reassignment surgery, would be willing to give Jenna Tarackova the benefit of the doubt when she says she was 'born' a woman and would thus meet the guidelines of being a naturally-born woman, since being a woman is more than the presence of a vagina or breasts. Why shouldn't the Miss Universe pageant do the same?
Once again I offer the caveat that my knowledge of transgender issues is limited, so my grasp on some concepts and terminology may be shaky, and I totally invite people to call me out in the comments if I fucked up.
That said though, I would think that advising a major publication to avoid terms like He/She is a pretty obvious no-brainer.