Fairfax opinion piece: Media profit from bigotry

As a result of Friday’s action against media transphobia, members of the Queer Avengers (and friends) were offered an editorial to counter Rosemary McLeod’s. This piece was co-written by Ian Anderson and Rosie-Jimson Healey.

EGO-TRIP: compound noun, informal. An activity done in order to increase one’s sense of self-importance.

One would think that giving birth is an activity unlikely to be deposited scathingly in the ego-trip category.

Perhaps bringing a new life into the world does increase one’s sense of self-importance; it is an astonishing example of the power of the human body when a perfect tiny human emerges from a uterus that has casually grown to 500 times its usual size.

Not to mention the presentation of a helpless, beetroot-coloured miniature human being. Even so, we don’t imagine many would link the term “ego-trip” to this particular moment in most parents lives.

However, this was the case in Rosemary McLeod’s piece that bore the headline Why I feel sorry for the children of ego-trippers (February 23). An innocent enough title, certainly not one that would sound immediate alarm bells in the reproductive rights, hate speech and eugenics departments. [Read more…]

Fairfax Report: Trans-gender community protest against column

About 50 protesters from Wellington’s Queer Avengers lobby group picketed the offices of The Dominion Post at lunchtime levelling charges of transphobia at the paper, its parent company Fairfax and the wider media.

The controversy arose yesterday when veteran Dominion Post columnist Rosemary McLeod published an opinion piece entitled Why I feel for the kids of ego trippers.

The column dealt with the issue of transgender parent Thomas Beatie who has given birth and appeared on television shows and in numerous media reports as a result.

Protester Sara Fraser said McLeod’s column was “appalling” and was part of a transphobic trend in the New Zealand media.

“She claimed not to know anything about the topic but still wrote about it.”

Ms Fraser said of particular concern was the use of the split pronoun he/she that McLeod used to refer to Beatie.

She said the over-riding issue was the column made transgender people look like unfit parents.

“Rosemary needs to wake up and smell the 21st century – such hatred is not acceptable in this day and age.”

Skye Shaddix, a 17-year-old female-to-male transgender person, said there was no reason why “trans-people should not be allowed to have kids.”

Shaddix and his 19-year-old boyfriend –  also female-to-male transgender – were considering having children in their late 20s.

“We should not be judged on how we were born – we have the working body parts, so why can’t we have the kids?”

The protesters gathered outside The Dominion Post‘s Boulcott St offices in downtown Wellington carrying placards bearing slogans like “transphobia is bullshit” and chanting “hey hey, ho ho transphobia’s got to go” and  “we’re here, we’re queer, we’re fabulous, don’t f#$k with us.”

Speakers at the protest said the media was profiting from racism, bigotry, homophobia and transphobia.

Queer Avengers’ Brooklyne Kennedy called McLeod’s column the “asinine rhetoric of the past” to cheers from the other protesters.

The group proposed a one day boycott of Fairfax’s Stuff website before going into the ground floor lobby of The Dominion Post to deliver a letter to management.

Dominion Post editor Bernadette Courtney said the column was carried on dompost.co.nz, and in print, in sections clearly  identified as opinion or comment.

“The piece represents Ms McLeod’s opinion and, while I accept that not everyone would agree with it, and may even have been affronted by it, I believe that when balanced against the principle of free expression, it would have been going a step too far to have banned it,” Ms Courtney said. [ed note: private newspapers select what to print and what not to print.]

– © Fairfax NZ News

Queer Avengers protest media transphobia

Members of the Queer Avengers, a queer and trans activist group, have called a protest against a transphobic article by Rosemary McLeod. The rally is taking place at 12:30 Friday 23rd February, outside the headquarters of Fairfax Media, who own the Dominion Post.

McLeod’s article states that transmen are in fact women, repeatedly using the pronoun “he/she.” Outrage has erupted online, on Twitter and elsewhere. The Queer Avengers event is circulating widely on Facebook, with over 100 down to attend in the space of an hour.

While a Dominion Post spokesperson says the article was merely Rosemary McLeod’s ‘opinion,’ protesters point out that the Dominion Post provide a platform for such opinions.

“They’re just profiting off bigotry,” says Queer Avengers activist Emily Haskell. “It happens throughout the media, and we won’t stand for it.”

McLeod asserts that she is worried for the kids of transmen. However the Queer Avengers note that in another article printed on the same day, a US study noted that children who express themselves in ways contrary to their percieved gender are often targeted for abuse, leading to post-traumatic stress disorder. “Transphobia hurts children and parents,” asserts Queer Avengers activist Stephen Jackson.

The Queer Avengers formed out of a ‘Queer the Night’ march with around 300 attendants in 2011. They have called a press conference on Thursday the 15th of March to discuss press coverage of gender variance, following on from the rally at Fairfax headquarters.