Karen Kissane can has transphobia, no can has journalistic integrity

Not sure if this has been covered elsewhere, as I just have time to post before din-dins.

Let’s start with a headline, courtesy of The Age via stuff.co.nz, which basically screams “let’s get some gratuitous offensiveness on”:

Court allows girl, 17, to have breasts removed

It can’t get worse? The hell you say!

An Australian court has allowed a 17-year-old girl to have her breasts removed so she can be more like a boy.

Or as we say in HaveAFuckingBrainistan, “An Australian court has allowed a young transgender man to have surgery so his external appearance can reflect his internal reality.”

… Admittedly, that requires both having a brain and believing in this crazy notion that transgendered people exist.

It’s your usual “denial of transgendered person’s identity, constant and deliberate use of blatantly incorrect pronoun in the face of clear stated preference” tail, only this one has two little twists, one almost funny and the other fucking sick:

First, there’s the fact that Justice Diana Bryant, who made the decision to allow 17-year-old Alex to have the surgery, always uses the correct, male, pronoun … which, given the introduction has already identified Alex as a girl, leads to this:

Justice Bryant told The Age: “In the end, it wasn’t a particularly difficult issue because the only real issue was, ‘Would he (Alex) have it at 17 or once he’s 18?’ Then, he doesn’t need permission…

The “journalist” feels the need to explain that the he Justice Bryant refers to is the same Alex referred to in the headline as a girl.

I mean, most people might have taken the hint when the Chief Justice of the Family Court is using a particular set of words to describe a person.

But not Karen Kissane, senior writer at The Age. Nope, she goes straight for the fucking sick twist:

But ethicist Nick Tonti-Filippini said mainstream medicine did not recognise hormone treatments and surgery as treatment for gender dysphoria. He said it was a psychiatric disorder qualifying under American guidelines as a psychosis because “it’s a belief out of accordance with reality“.

Well, he’s an ethicist, he would know, right?

And if there were anything about this ethicist that might possibly put his comments in context, Karen Kissane would have mentioned it, right?

Like how they stick little “XYZ ABC is a commentator for the Suchandsuch Thinktank and has previously written on the effect of lint on suit jackets” disclaimers at the end of opinion pieces.

I mean, if you’re just going to call someone an ethicist and then report their words with no criticism or questioning, they’ve got to be, well, credible, right?

You wouldn’t, for example, expect them to be Associate Professors at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, right? It’s not like that screams I have a certain and telling doctrine underwriting my statements on gender and identity or anything. It’s not like that might affect how people read this article, and interpret this ethicist’s statements, and how they reflect on the life and identity of a 17-year-old boy.

Karen Kissane, I might have raised an eyebrow over your illiterate inability to get the pronouns right. I might have just screamed FUCK at my computer screen a few times over that pathetic excuse for a headline.

But when you describe Alex’s identity as “longing to be the opposite sex”, when you quote someone like Nick Toni-Filippini and feel apparently no need to point out that his comments are hardly objective, when you discard the serious efforts Justice Bryant has gone to to reach the best decision for Alex because you want to treat a young transman as a circus freak to get you headlines?

There is a special circle of Hell waiting for you, Karen.

Letters to The Age: letters@theage.com.au

ETA: More at Hoyden About Town and The Hand Mirror.

3 comments

  1. Spilt Milk

    Gahhhhhhh! Massive fail.

    What I want to read are articles which address some of the actual issues here, like how parents and doctors and judges negotiate through these situations with grace despite the sheer fucked-upedness of the world at large. Not the Herald Sun dressed up in broadsheet clothing.

  2. Helen

    Kissane may get an indulgence to avoid the first circle of hell due to her book on the Julie Ramage killing, on which she did a much better job. I’ve been meaning to blog that one for a while….

  3. Pingback: Offensive pronoun choice: not just for the media « Ideologically Impure