Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Oh, Toronto Sun, I guess I shouldn't be surprised..

But this seems sad, even for you.

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.

Source
Keep it classy, Sun Media.

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.

16 comments:

  1. But WAS Bart at city hall? I gotta know!

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  2. You'll have to go read the article for itself. I'm not about to go searching. Running out of brain-bleach as it is.

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  3. Replies
    1. It's not slacking, it's self-preservation. The stupid, it burns, you know.

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    2. So...stupid is like a VD?

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    3. I think it's more easily spread than VD

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  4. I heard about this on the radio this morning. I haven't read any further into it, other than this right here.

    That being said, IF I was to agree to these stupid beauty contests, I would most definately rule out any plastic surgery or body alterations.

    Hell, if you're going to go for a bullshit title like that, anything but your own body/face etc. is cheating.

    Not against trans-gender in any way, shape, or form. And I give kudo's to Jenna (not knowing much of a back story). But if she has had any body alterations then really, it shouldn't be allowed. Not just because of her having been born with a damn penis, because if you're going to "judge" beauty, then be it the unmolested-by-doctors kind of beauty.

    That being said (other than beauty contests are bullshit) that both genders should be allowed to enter. fuck there are some pretty good looking guys out there that may kick some ass...

    this is why they don't make me in charge of this shit.

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    1. In general I'm pretty much in agreement that beauty pageants are a bunch of bullshit. Coming from a place of 'surgical enhancement is cheating' is definitely interesting.

      However, since I don't think anyone has ever been judged on their genitals in a beauty contest, I'm not sure that sex reassignment surgery would count, would it? Falls in a different category than facelifts and breast augmentation if someone's junk isn't part of the criteria being judged. It be like (and oh god, this might be a HORRIBLE analogy) disqualifying someone because they had reconstructive surgery after an accident.

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    2. Stupid cell phone... now to try and re type...

      I agree - if your junk isn't being judged part.

      But if Jenna has had any other body/face alterations then I would be against it. If I were making the rules.

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  5. I'll always remember the English professor who divided the class into male and female and asked us to come up with all the things that define men and women--physically, emotionally, socially, etc. etc. We then reconvened as a class and she made two lists on the board, one for women and for men, of all the qualities we had come up with. Then she started erasing items one at a time, asking, "Okay, so if a man loses his penis, is he still a man?" or "If a woman doesn't have a uterus is she still a woman?" Of course the answer was always, "Well, yeah, of course he/she is still a man/woman." This went on and on until there were no items left on the board, driving home the point that gender is a much more deeper thing than we'd sometimes like to think. Brilliant introduction to gender theory!

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    1. My prof that I Had for sex roles and sexuality did a similar exercise, asking us to define sex, sexuality and gender and then basically deconstructing our answers. It was very eye-opening.

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  6. Not more deeper. Just deeper. I was an English major and should know better.

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  7. Yeah, that does seem pretty wrong. This is one of the reasons that I am grateful for the BBC

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  8. I have a trans* friend who is very open and helpful when I struggle with understanding these complicated questions. However, without reading the back story, I would have to say that unless a note from the doctor or a visual inspection is required from every entrant, having a trans* contestant do so is out of bounds. One thing I have learned is that the pronoun"ze" is much preferred over he/she.

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    1. I've used zie/zir in situations where I am not sure what the preferred pronoun is, and it's my understanding that etiquette dictates that it be used until a preferred pronoun is established. In this case, since Jenna has come right out and stated that she considers herself a naturally-born woma so I figured in this case using "she" was probably pretty safe.

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  9. Wow. What is this 1955? Holy moley! I'm not sure what to say to this. Wow.

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Engaging in discussion and/or general sucking up.. that's where it's at!