Archive for March, 2007

NY Post Follow-Up, Revisited

This post has changed since I originally posted it, after I was made aware of certain edits to my published NY Post letter; see below.

It’s been a busy few days, so I haven’t gotten to write much or respond to many comments. Over the next few days, I’m going to be catching up on those comments, especially those posted on my most recent post on gentrification, which has gotten quite a few.

The NY Post letter writing campaign has really taken off since Thursday, with many people sending in their letters and reposting it on their blogs. Thank you to everyone who’s participated and supported this effort.

As for the effects of our efforts, well, it’s not certain what those effects are or will be. the NY Post is notorious for its generally conservative slant and crappy treatment of topics related to oppression and discrimination, and I don’t think that the letters, numerous as they are, will really make them stop being transphobic. Nevertheless, I think that it’s important that we’ve hopefully made it clear to them that a whole lot of people think that transphobia is unacceptable, so much so that they’re willing to take time out to let the Post know. Who knows, maybe it actually will make some sort of difference to individual writers and editors there. Positive change can add up, even if it comes in small, slow steps.

A visible, public outcry is also important, whether or not it has an effect on the Post, as a show of solidarity with and support for Mariah Lopez and the wider trans and genderqueer community, and as a general condemnation of transphobic prejudice and discrimination.

The Post hasn’t published any of the letters, which is not surprising. They did publish a letter that I shot off earlier in the week, after reading the first article and before they published the even-worse editorial. But – and thanks to Holly for pointing this out – they edited my letter in such a fashion that it wound up coming off as fairly transphobic and disrespectful in and of itself.

When will The Post and its reporters learn to be respectful towards trans people?

Calling this woman a “wannabe” and a “he-she” is disgustingly disrespectful, not only to (old name here) “Mariah” Lopez, but to all trans people.

It’s not so hard to respect trans people – it’s a matter of a tiny bit of education and just being nice.

Would you rather try to sell newspapers through crude sensationalism or through respectful, decent journalism of actual substance and quality?

My original wording: “Calling this woman a ‘wannabe’ and a ‘he-she’ is disgustingly disrespectful, not only to her individually but to all trans people.”

I have no idea how I missed their change when I originally copied and pasted the letter to this blog. Using a trans person’s old name against their will, and putting their current, true name in quotation marks, as if to say it’s less valid or just a nickname, is just wrong for reasons that should be obvious. And the way they edited my letter makes it look like I did so on purpose. I don’t really know what to do about it; I just wrote an irate letter “strongly requesting” that they change the version on the website, but they say that they reserve the right to edit letters, so who knows if they’ll even pay attention.


ACTION ALERT: Tell the NY Post to quit its transphobic “reporting”

3/2/07 Update: I’ve been kind of busy since posting this, so I wanted to post a quick thank you to everyone who’s written to the Post, and to everyone who’s reposted this. I didn’t expect such a great and large response, and it’s wonderful. Please keep reposting!

NOTE TO OTHER BLOGGERS: Please link to or repost this!

An important victory was recently won in the struggle for trans rights, specifically around health care. Judge Sheldon Rand of the Manhattan Family Court found, for the second time, that the City of New York is obligated to pay for the sexual reassignment surgery of Mariah Lopez, a young trans woman of color who was denied this important and necessary medical care while in the care of the NYC foster system. The City is constitutionally required to provide adequate medical coverage for all children in its care, and SRS is a medically approved procedure, one that is often necessary for trans people. In the decision, Judge Rand wrote: “Mariah L. should be treated in order that she may go on with her life and be in a body which blends with the gender with which she identifies.”*

Fortunately, Judge Rand was far more understanding and respectful than most of the media coverage, which has ranged from iffy to downright disgusting. (This article from is the most respectful one I’ve found thus far.)

Worst of all has been the coverage from the New York Post. Now, anyone who’s familiar with this sorry excuse for a newspaper should know that it’s usually chock full of shoddy, sensationalist, decidedly conservative-leaning rubbish that they attempt to pass off as journalism, so racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia are all par for the course. But the two pieces that they’ve run on this story – an “article” entitled “Free To Be He-She” and the even worse editorial, “Justice Isn’t That Blind” – are really just awful and enraging. Not only are the articles thoroughly transphobic, but the editorial also falsely paints her as a “sociopath” due to her criminal record, completely ignoring her history of activism and community service and the fact that she and other trans women of color are targeted and abused by the NYPD (see Holly’s comment on this post for more.)

The New York Post needs to be sent a strong message: quit the transphobic “reporting”! Show some respect, some decency, and some attention to journalistic standards.

I ask all of you to join me in writing to the Post and giving them a piece of your mind. Below is a letter to the Post. You can copy and paste it as is, or you can add your own touches to it or write something completely new. Whichever one you choose, send it to and (the writer of the first article.) (It would be great if you also commented here, so I can get a gauge of how many emails they’re getting.)


SUBJECT: NY Post: Quit the Transphobic Reporting!

I was angered by the Post’s coverage of the recent Manhattan Family Court decision in favor of Mariah Lopez (“Free to be he-she,” February 25, and “Justice isn’t that blind,” February 27). Both articles were deeply disrespectful of Ms. Lopez’s gender identity. By referring to her as a “he-she,” a “wannabe woman,” and, in the editorial, using her old name and incorrect pronouns in direct violation of AP style guidelines, the Post has clearly demonstrated that it is more interested in playing to societal prejudice towards transgender people than in following good journalistic practices and treating trans people with the respect that they deserve.

Additionally, the articles’ sensational treatment of this story ignored the fact that the ACS is required by law to provide medically-approved treatment to children under its care, and that Ms. Lopez was indeed a child under the care of the ACS when she initially sought transgender health care, including sexual reassignment surgery. Ms. Lopez was denied access to a necessary treatment that is widely approved by the medical community. Judge Rand’s decision will hopefully ensure that no other child, trans or not, will be denied treatment in the future simply due to prejudice.



* Partly in anticipation of certain questions, I’d like to clarify that I don’t believe that SRS is always a necessary part of a trans person’s transition. Transition can mean all sorts of things, many of which are not medical or surgical; it’s all about what one feels is right for them. I think it’s important, actually, to get away from a medicalization of trans-ness, because that often leads to people passing judgment on who’s “really” or “fully” trans or not based on their medical history. Which is, of course, complete bullshit, given that not everyone chooses – or can afford or access – the same treatment.