McLeod defends 'transphobic' column
Thu, 23 Feb 2012 5:40p.m.
By Ally Mullord
Despite an online backlash accusing her of transphobia and ‘hatespeech’, columnist Rosemary McLeod has said she stands by her latest column.
The column, which was published on the Dominion Post section of stuff.co.nz today, discusses what McLeod calls “rather strange” modern methods of getting pregnant – including the children of transgender people.
In the column McLeod says transgendered men who have given birth and “boasted about it publicly” are “ego-trippers” seeking fame at their childrens’ expense, and frequently uses the outdated pronoun ‘he/she’.
“He/ she is now married to a woman, had all along kept his/her ovaries and stuff… this, to my mind, makes him/ her a woman who may shave in the morning and have short hair and a deep voice,” McLeod wrote.
“It's the kids I worry about. It would be all very well if their mother/father had kept his/her unusual situation private, but he/she has boasted about it publicly, and that stands a good chance of rebounding against the kids.”
Online response to the column has been almost entirely negative.
“Stop saying he/she. Stop saying he/she. Stop saying
he/she,” Twitter user @RyanSproull wrote.
@homecomeexpat said, “Just
read a horrendously transphobic column in @dompost by Rosemary McLeod... ugh,
I feel like I need a shower."
A number of users sent messages to the Dominion Post asking
for an explanation, or for McLeod to be sacked.
Commenters on the stuff.co.nz website called the article "hateful and offensive". One reader said she would be complaining to the Human Rights Commission.
Nicole Skews, Founder of the Wellington Young Feminists’ Collective, says the column is “clearly hatespeech”.
“[McLeod is] basically saying trans people shouldn’t be allowed to have families, and encouraging ridicule at their gender identities,” she says.
“Rosemary’s self-righteous rants about the damage to children of trans folk is ironic given that she’s perpetrating the very discrimination she worries their children will be exposed to.”
Skews says that following the recent Hell Pizza ‘misfortune’ cookie promotion and Libra tampon ad – both of which hit headlines for their negative portrayals of transgendered people – McLeod’s article is “just another reminder to trans people in New Zealand that their gender identities are up for public debate and ridicule”.
“I can’t speak for the trans community, but I do speak for an organisation committed to helping combat transphobia and gender discrimination,” Skews says.
“[McLeod is] effectively trying to paint trans people as freaks who don’t deserve to have families, and considering Trans people in New Zealand have a suicide rate 25 times higher than that of non-trans people, we need to have zero tolerance to this kind of abuse.”
When contacted for comment by 3 News, McLeod replied, “I stand by what I wrote”.
Twitter and Facebook users are calling from an apology from Fairfax. Libra and Hell Pizza both apologised following complaints about their promotions.
Skews says the media company should also issue “a recognition, not that ‘some people may have been offended’, but that they were complicit in transphobia by allowing it to be published”.
The Dominion Post has responded on Twitter, saying, “Thanks
for raising #transphobia concerns about Rosemary McLeod's piece. They
are taken on board. The column is her opinion”.
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(Won't be published)
24/02/2012 12:19:31 a.m.
@Erm: the difference between the "straight" community (as if that's a community?) and the "trans" community is that the former doesn't have to deal with systematic and widespread ridicule, harassment, violence, discrimination and hatred every day. As a member of the rather privileged "straight" community (at least I assume that's what you consider yourself to be part of) you really don't get to decide what someone from a marginalised community should find humorous - and this rubbish opinion piece wasn't even meant to be humorous.
24/02/2012 12:17:04 a.m.
The fact that the column was meant to be humourous doesn't decrease its offensiveness. The "humour" of the column is based on the idea that trans people are bizarre and wrong-headed.
23/02/2012 7:48:40 p.m.
@Erm... The trans community put up with all kinds of prejudice every day. McLeod's article was hateful and ignorant rubbish. It was not meant in jest. There is nothing wrong with the collective sense of humor in the trans community. They should not have to put up with things like this being written about them.
23/02/2012 7:19:19 p.m.
She is allowed her bigoted opinion; the issue is whether she should have a platform for it.
"I think the trans 'community' should learn a collective sense of humour, and allow others to think what they wish."
Eh? The comments weren't even intended to be humourous. What's having a 'sense of humour' got to do with it? And again, McLeod is allowed to think what she likes. You should try to understand issues before commenting on them.
23/02/2012 6:55:28 p.m.
Why is McLeod not allowed her opinion? If she had written anything similar about the 'straight' community, would there have been an outcry? I think the trans 'community' should learn a collective sense of humour, and allow others to think what they wish.
23/02/2012 6:34:42 p.m.
The Dominion Post is responsible for what is printed or posted even if that is in an opinion column. Free speech is not the same as saying anything we like. Organisations have responsibilities and there are consequences to printing this type phobic material on a national news network. This is not an issue of political correctness, it is bigotry and the Dominion Post should take action to ensure this type of material is not printed again.
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