Update: LGBT organizations respond. See below the fold.
As we approach the Christmas holidays, what editor thought this was fit to print? Here’s an excerpt from “Christmas carols — with a twist” written by columnist and copy editor Dan Phelps at the Lowell Sun. Lowell is the fourth largest city in Massachusetts and is located 20 miles northwest of Boston.
Chaz Bono got turned into a man, dear.
Dancin’ with a woman on TV.
You might say there’s no such thing as Santa
Till you see what Chaz got ‘neath his tree.
Chastity was once a cute girl
On her parents’ TV show.
Then she stunned the whole dang nation,
When she said her girl parts had to go.
Now transgenders in the Bay State
Have a law that’s etched in black.
It says they can change their gender.
Then if they want, they can change it back. …
Apparently the Lowell Sun doesn’t think that trans people are human beings worthy of common respect and dignity who might themselves be celebrating the Christmas holidays. No, the Lowell Sun seems to think that trans people exist to be used as the punch line in a dreadful piece of defamatory writing dressed up to pass as a joke.
If you think differently than the Lowell Sun appears to, then here are some useful numbers:
President & Publisher
LETTER TO EDITOR
Update: LGBT organizations respond:
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) released a Take Action item today inviting readers to contact Lowell Sun editor Jim Campanini in light of the following information:
Immediately after being in touch with local LGBT advocates in Massachusetts, GLAAD reached out to Lowell Sun editor Jim Campanini, to relay why these types of ‘jokes’ aren’t funny and to explain why a newspaper — especially the 8th largest in the state — should hold itself to higher journalistic integrity and standards. While Jim was receptive to our feedback and agreed that this was a “poor parody,” telling us that he would speak with the staff member responsible for the offensive piece, he has yet to remove it from the paper’s website or issue a public apology.
Stand with GLAAD in asking the Lowell Sun to remove the anti-trans ‘Christmas carol’ from their website and to put their apology in writing. It’s great that we heard their apology, but it’s more important that the paper’s readers see it.
Jim Campanini can be reached directly at (978) 970-4621 and/or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is encouraging readers to Let the Lowell Sun Know What You Think About Using ‘Humor’ to Degrade Transgender People by submitting a letter to the editor. MTPC’s own letter to the editor is as follows:
Dear Editor of the Lowell Sun
The references to transgender people, and in particular Chaz Bono’s gender transition, in “Christmas Carols with a Twist” was not funny. It was in fact, dehumanizing and degrading to transgender people. Transgender youth and adults are our neighbors, friends, and family members and more importantly, are human beings.
We are disappointed to see this piece in the Lowell Sun, the same paper that has covered stories of horrific violence and discrimination against transgender people in the Lowell community over the years. This type of “humor” contributes to a climate of intolerance to those who are different from us, in this case transgender people. Unfortunately, for some transgender youth and adults this climate of intolerance leads to violence and discrimination.
In a recent study by the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce found that in Massachusetts that 76% transgender adults experienced harassment on the job, 31% of transgender youth in K-12 schools had experienced physical assault, and 18% of transgender adults had been physically assaulted in a bias motivated attack.
We hope that in the future the Lowell Sun will carry stories accurately reflecting the experiences of the transgender people and not as this pieces was, the butt of a joke.
Executive Director, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
Ethan St. Pierre
Haverhill Resident & Coordinator of the Transgender Day of Remembrance website, which tracks the murders of transgender people due hate violence around the world.
MassEquality’s Executive Director Kara Suffredini responds to the anti-trans column in the Lowell Sun:
Dan Phelps’ attempt at humor (see “Christmas Carols – With a Twist,” Dec. 19) falls far short of the mark. Since when has it been funny to make fun of civil rights laws and the people they protect? In reality, his column is offensive and a demonstration of exactly why we need protections for the transgender community.
Last year, a Lowell resident who has lived as a transgender woman for 20 years, was forced to obtain a restraining order against her neighbor. Why? Because after months of verbal harassment, the neighbor defaced the woman’s apartment door with slurs and threatened to have someone shoot the woman in the head. The woman shared her experiences with state lawmakers this summer when she testified in favor of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill during a Joint Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill.
The year before that, as reported in the pages of this newspaper, a transgender man was physically assaulted in Lowell by two young men who screamed slurs at him indicating that the reason they had attacked the man was because of his appearance and gender identity.
And two years before that, as reported in the pages of this newspaper, a transgender woman was physically assaulted in Lowell by three men who shouted slurs at her indicating that the reason they attacked her was because of her gender identity.
The Transgender Equal Rights Bill, passed by lawmakers last month and signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick on Nov. 23, provides vital protections in employment, education, housing, credit, and hate crimes for the Commonwealth’s transgender residents. And they surely need them. As transgender residents of Lowell know, violence motivated by anti-transgender bias is all too common.
Cross-posted at Blue Mass Group.