05 December, 2010

Supporting Captain Clinch and Why Pronouns Matter


I recently read an article at Hoyden About Town about Captain Bridget Clinch, a trans woman who has fought, and won, the right for trans people to serve openly in the Australian military. (In Support of Captain Bridget Clinch)

Her fight was hard, and not yet won. She has finally earned the right to serve as a woman, the right to live as her actual gender, and this is a huge victory. But it is not a victory without cost.
In order to transition, she will be forced to divorce her wife, a woman she loves, a woman who loves her. I cannot imagine how much that must hurt.

She is also still being misgendered by journalists, reminding us all that tran* people are still seen as wrong, as deluded. A classic example of this is a Sydney Morning Herald article My Body's A War Zone And I Will Not Retreat (warning for misgendering at this link).
So long as this happens, trans* people will continue to be hurt, abused, raped, murdered.

I have written an email to the SMH, asking them to change the article. I would urge you all to do the same. Captain Clinch's fight is not over. It may seem like a small gesture, and it is. A teaspoon trying to empty an ocean of hatred and trasphobia.

But just as small injustices tear us down, so do small acts help build us up.

The address to send mail to is readerlink@SMH.com.au. A copy of my email follows.

Use this thread as an open thread, talking about ways to support trans people, especially in Australia, but also around the world.

Dear Sydney Morning Herald,

I read with disappointment the article written by Maris Beck titled "My body's a war zone and I will not retreat" (address: http://www.smh.com.au/national/my-bodys-a-war-zone-and-i-will-not-retreat-20101204-18krq.html).

It is not the subject of the article that disappoints me, but the way in which the article is written. Captain Bridget Clinch is frequently referred to as male, and male pronouns are used for her throughout the piece. This is incorrect. As a woman, Captain Clinch should be referred to using female pronouns.

Using the correct pronouns is a matter of respect for trans* people. To do otherwise, to misgendered someone, robs them of their identity and brands them as delusional, wrong.

Trans* people face extremely high levels of violence, higher than the majority of the population. Although misgendering someone does not directly cause trans* people to be beaten, murdered or abused, it contributes to the culture where this sort of behaviour is ok, even acceptable.

You can read about some of the atrocious acts committed against trans people here: http://hoydenabouttown.com/20101120.9012/transgender-day-of-remembrance-living-with-the-threat/

This is a human rights issue. For an easy-to-follow guide on how reporters can get it right, and why they should, pleased read this page: http://humanrights.change.org/blog/view/reporters_how_to_get_it_right_on_transgender_issues

I hope you take this advice to heart, and change the pronouns used in this article.


[my real name]

I received an email today from the SMH. Ill just copy it wholesale for you:
Dear [real name],

Recently you contacted ReaderLink. The following outlines The Herald's response:

Thank you for your email. Fairfax Media values reader feedback. The editors of The Sun-Herald have requested that we thank you for bring your views to our attention they have also asked we forward the following message:
'we have changed the gender pronoun references in both the story online and in the archives. We very much appreciate your feedback. We have also instructed our journalists to consult http://humanrights.change.org/blog/view/reporters_how_to_get_it_right_on_transgender_issues before writing about the issues in future

Your interest in Herald Publications is appreciated and has provided us with valuable feedback.
Please quote 00158861 if you wish to contact ReaderLink again.

Ben & Peter

Isn't this fantastic news? Not only did they listen, but they are also passing the link on to other journalists, so they can u the correct pronouns in the future.

I've also received a comment from Tammy, Captain Bridget Clinch's wife. I'll let you read it :)

Thank you for reading, Tammy :)

- Pharaoh Signing Off


Tammy said...

This is Tammy - Bridget's wife.
Thankyou for your article and your letter to the SMH.
Apparently they have changed the article online to be the same as the Sunday Age (the original), primarily because the journalist wasn't happy with their editing, however that one still gets pronouns confused and is not perfect. It was very difficult to make the journalist and her editor understand (despite their best intentions) why names and pronouns were so important. I appreciate more voices adding to ours - hopefully eventually the media will get it right for us and for others.
kind regards,

Pharaoh Katt said...

Thank you for reading and commenting. I'm happy to do anything I can to support you and Bridget, as well as any other trans* person who needs and wants it.

I'm so glad for the response from the SMH. Hopefully if enough of us speak up it will have a positive effect.

Regards to you and your family,


mimbles said...

Wow, what a great result!