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McLeod defends 'transphobic' column

Thursday 23 Feb 2012 5:29 p.m.

The Dominion Post replied to criticism, saying the column is McLeod's opinion

The Dominion Post replied to criticism, saying the column is McLeod's opinion

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and “boasted about it publicly” are “ego-trippers” seeking fame at their childrens’ expense, and frequently uses the outdated pronoun ‘he/she’.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”.

3 News

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