Transgender people are those who do not identify with the sex they were born as, and the transgender community is one that has long been misunderstood by officials, the media and other Americans alike. In addition, some estimates saying as many as 41 percent of transgender people have attempted suicide.
The issue of how to treat transgender people with respect came to the forefront among the media when a Jan. 15 article on the sports journalism website Grantland.com outed the inventor of a new, scientifically advanced golf club; the inventor committed suicide after being outed.
The writer, Caleb Hannan, dug into the background of the inventor, Essay Anne Vanderbilt, and interviewed Vanderbilt, but he found out after looking into some discrepancies with the inventor’s name that Vanderbilt was born a different sex under a different name. Vanderbilt also had completely falsified some credentials unrelated to the birth name.
Vanderbilt begged him not to print that information, and he never threatened to out Vanderbilt, but he did slip and tell one of the inventor’s colleagues about Vanderbilt being transgender. Vanderbilt sent one last desperate email to the writer and asked him not to mention the gender discrepancies in the story. But Vanderbilt killed herself a short time later.
Critics of the Grantland story said the original piece used some incorrect gender-neutral pronouns and failed to consult a transgender person to discuss the tone of the piece and whether it was worth running. Another problem in the piece is that Vanderbilt’s gender really is not relevant to the fact that Vanderbilt falsified credentials.
The Stater does not claim to be a perfect publication — there are plenty of mistakes we look at the next day and think, “How did that get through?” But we think we took a lot of time to be more careful with our story about the transgender community than Grantland.
The issues are complicated, but equality is not: We recognize the need to treat transgender people fairly and equally, and we hope Kent State soon will work with transgender people and Trans*Formers to make campus a safe space.
The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.