The Christchurch Press and transphobic asshats of the day

[TW: every square on the transphobia bingo board]

Via Coley Tangerina on Twitter, a truly fucked-up article is currently on Stuff about a trans woman who works as a beauty therapist in Christchurch and is getting shat on for her identity.

Stuff and the Christchurch Press decide to go to her defence by:

  • Headlining the article “Big Hands ‘Bad News’ for Christchurch Beauty Therapist” (address bar) / “‘Man hands’ bad news for beauty business” on the page
  • Referring to her as “Transsexual Stephanie Dixon” in the first sentence
  • Referring to her as “Born a man” in the second sentence
  • Mentioning the size of her hands three times in under 300 words

… all of which basically says “the problem is her identity and her hands, not the bigotry of people in her community.”

Let’s marvel at the particular beauty of the second sentence in full:

Born a man, Dixon is New Zealand’s only post-operative beauty therapist, something she says is her passion.

… which kind of implies not that beauty therapy is her passion, but that her surgical history combined with beauty therapy is her passion.

The thing is, if you take out all of that bullshit, the article could actually be a really thoughtful, powerful piece about a very normal woman living a very normal life facing social backlash because of the bigotry and gossip of others.  It could have been headlined, “Christchurch beauty therapist faces backlash from transphobic gossip”.

But for some strange reason, before we can get to her own words and her own experiences, we need to have it ABSOLUTELY EMPHASISED that Stephanie Dixon is a trans woman.  We have to have it absolutely taken for granted that her hands are a problem, not just a bog-standard transphobic stereotype.  And of course the idea that the size of her hands is in any way relevant to her ability to buff your nails, wax your legs or apply a facial is never rejected.

All I’m saying is, if so-called “journalist” Charley Mann wants to keep talking about Ms Dixon’s “man hands”, they could at least do us the honour of posting a photograph of said hands so we right-thinking people can judge for ourselves, am I right?  If we’re going to make it clear that the problem is “people are scared of your big manly hands”, let’s just go the whole nine transphobic yards, shall we?

(It should be noted that the comments on the article are largely supportive, which is highly refreshing.)


As a side note: at least one spa in Wellington offers the services of a (presumably) cis-male beauty therapist (for male customers.)  Just so we’re clear that the only reason for the bigots of Christchurch, and “journalist” Charley Mann, to keep talking about Ms Dixon’s hands is because they’re trying to undermine her femininity.


  1. Helen

    The only good thing about that article is that for once, the comments were almost 100% supportive and wonderful. (At the time I looked a day or so ago – of course it may be different now especially if there’s one of the troll invasions so common these days.) If I didn’t live 4 hrs plane flight away I would be booking a session with her, not usually being a “beauty therapy” customer notwithstanding.
    And as a cis woman, I wish it to be known I have really big hands.
    Furthermore, one of the most classic love songs of the last century, “Blister in the Sun”, specifically mentions a woman with big hands, if I’m not mistaken (I am prone to mondegreens. And that’s quite enough about me for now.)

  2. Chris Miller

    My total FAVE is the one right at the bottom going “I’d prefer to know beforehand so I didn’t spend the whole appointment curious.” Yeah you totally have the right to know the medical history of everyone who services you just to satisfy your curiosity, especially something that can have seriously negative impacts on them.

  3. David

    I’m sorry, but what is a cis person? Journalism in NZ is a joke, apart from a few shiny pebbles like Gordon Campbell and a few others I can’t name but am sure we all know. This article is one I avoided this morning just due to its headline, too tabloid for my liking, feels like Charley Mann should be writing about Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, that’s more his pedigree.

  4. Strongerlight

    It may be that I have been reading to much little red ridinghood to my toddler, but that and my love of a good massage just makes me think: big hands = all the better to massage with.

  5. K

    Perhaps it is my own insecurities, but I’d actually prefer her over other beauty therapists. I know I’d feel less judged.

  6. Pingback: The Daily Blog Watch Friday 26 April « The Daily Blog
  7. Joanne Perkins

    It does seem that as Trans Women we are fair game doesn’t it? As one who has worked as a bus driver in Wellington for 8 years I have to say that I have not faced this kind if bullshit at all. Our capital has a lot of good people living in it, oh and my employer was well aware of my Trans status before hiring me as well, so big ups to them