In 2014, former boxing promoter Kellie Maloney revealed that she planned to medically transition from male to female.
This announcement came at a time when much of the media were woefully unequipped to deal with trans issues. Fast-forward four years, and problems with the coverage of gender issues persist, with sections of the media being deliberately hostile or dismissive.
After Kellie went public with the latest stage of her transition, the Daily Star reacted by proclaiming that she had “gone for the chop”.
This caused Twitter users to accuse the paper of “transphobia”.
Hey @Daily_Star. “Finally had a willy chop” is none of your business how long it takes for someone to transition no… https://t.co/dM4TKML1MR
Trans author Juno Dawson cited this insensitive coverage as example of dehumanising press coverage targeting trans people.
It’s curious that the media is keen to paint trans people as some sort of fictional sexual threat when, in fact, our bodies, and particularly genitals, are publicly scrutinised without our consent. This sort of journalism is plain naff.
Bex Stinson, head of trans inclusion at Stonewall, believes that newspapers should stop focussing on stories relating to surgery. She said:
We’re pleased Kellie Maloney feels able to talk openly about her transition but we’re disappointed that the newspaper that covered the story chose such a disrespectful headline.
Language matters and it’s especially important when describing or referencing someone’s identity. We’d also encourage the media to cover the full range of experiences and voices within the trans community instead of always focusing on stories about surgery.
Zane Robinson of the LGBT Foundation also asserts that the representation of trans people in the media impacts how society views the trans community. He said:
Turning personal transition stories into ‘shock’ headlines and articles such as this can make people feel it is okay to know very intimate details about a trans person and their body.
Womanhood is not just based on what body parts a person has, and saying that Ms. Maloney is only now ‘all woman’ takes away from the 56 years prior that she expressed her struggles with her gender identity and the six years she has already been out as a woman and transitioning.