“News” Organization Files Offensive “Report” on Trans Issues

By now, you’ve probably heard of Thomas Beatie, the transgender man who is pregnant with his first child. With the exception of the original Advocate story, written by Beatie himself, pretty much all coverage I’ve seen has been extremely obnoxious and sensationalized. Thomas and his wife Nancy say that they came out with the news on their own so that they could have some say on the framing of the media coverage — and one would assume they also have at least some interest in trans rights — but they seem to have underestimated the media.

Yesterday, Beatie was on Oprah (did anyone see it? how did it go?), and so coverage is now even more intensified. Though I’m sure that there are less credible news sources reporting much more offensively, this shit from MSNBC pissed me the fuck off:

Pregnant “man” tells Oprah: “It’s a miracle”

That’s right, according to MSNBC, Beatie who has lived as a man for many years, is legally recognized as a man and is legally married to a woman is now a “man.” You know, can’t let those trans folk get to uppity by acknowledging their legal rights or showing them any basic respect.

Maybe if MSNBC wanted to somehow clarify how a man could be pregnant in their title, if that was so very important to them, they could have used the phrase transman or transgender man, rather than trying to illegitimatize his entire identity with the scare quotes? Ah, but then fewer people would be drawn to click on the link, wouldn’t they?

Then there’s this lede for a related video report: “Is it true? Is it possible? Thomas Beatie of Bend, Ore., says “yes” to both questions, claiming he’s five months pregnant. But is his claim real, or a hoax? KTVZ reports.”

Nothing like getting people to make you some money off of ad viewings by using a teaser that suggests a person’s major life event might be a “hoax.” Also, if you watch the video, you’ll see a reporter harassing Beatie’s neighbors and then feigning surprise when they won’t talk to her or express their support. Also, while intruding on their lives, uninvited with a microphone and camera, they decide to wag a finger at the paparazzi camped outside of Beatie’s home for their completely inexcusable crime of . . . intruding on the neighborhood uninvited with microphones and cameras.

Hey MSNBC, are you getting a good view of my middle finger?

You can contact MSNBC at letters@msnbc.com. They ask that you include the URL of the story you’re responding to in the body of your email.

0 thoughts on ““News” Organization Files Offensive “Report” on Trans Issues

  1. cassandra

    cara, i’m right there with you in terms of the man-in-quotes thing.

    But, at the same time, it’s not often that you get a sentence in the mainstream media like this one:

    “The couple said an earlier attempt at pregnancy failed when he developed a tubal pregnancy, resulting in surgery that removed his Fallopian tubes.”

    As someone who is continually negotiating pronouns with my transman boyfriend (who, not currently being on T or having had a top surgery yet often feels more like a “she” than a “he” despite his desires), it’s a little bit of a relief to see anything that steps out of the binary in the mainstream media.

    So, while I agree with you that it totally sucks & the family will probably be slammed with obnoxious freak-show type attention, I also commend them for coming out publicly with their story … it will eventually mean a lot for younger couples looking for ways to understand what it means to be trans, or in a relationship with someone who is trans (it’s not like we don’t already hear the bigoted, ignorant comments everyday from our own families).

  2. Cara Post author

    Cassandra, while I agree that MSNBC did use correct pronouns, I also know that it is part of standard journalistic guidelines to use preferred pronouns. Many news sources do ignore the rules, but they tend to be the least mainstream and least highly regarded news sources (what commentators do, though, is a whole different story). I don’t know, I’m just not really prepared to start handing out cookies to very large news organizations for following the AP styleguide.

  3. cassandra

    Fair. I guess I was just saying that, based on my experiences, this is about par for the course in terms of acceptance of trans issues in mainstream dialog & that sometimes starting the dialog feels like a step backwards because u have to deal with prejudices.

    Which is not to say that we shouldn’t be pushing the media– as the forum where most Americans form their opinions– toward better, less bigoted reporting. Which you do consistently & I appreciate.

    Take a cookie.

  4. GallingGalla (fka RachelPhilPa)

    I watched part of the Oprah show. She alternated between faux “concern” and “openness” and outright ignorance, including badgering him for several minutes about his genitals and what they look like, which is nobody’s fucking business no matter how big a talk show host they are.

    When at the start of the show, she introduced him as “he’s a man, and he’s pregnant”, the camera panned across the audience, showing all of the woman as shocked! awed! disgusted! disbelieving! And you know they were told to do that by the teleprompter.

    Thomas and Nancy are incredibly courageous for going through with this.

    As an aside, I’ll note that Thomas Beatie is by no means the first trans man to become pregnant; there have been at least a couple hundred who have had children. Getting ob-gyn care is pretty much a nightmare for all trans men, especially for those who become pregnant, or wish to.

  5. Paul

    That’s a bit something-phobic for the media to say he’s not what he is. He’s a man. He just didn’t bother with the ding dong part of the operation.

    I’m a bit curious as to just how this happened though. Surely he must have stopped taking male HT, reverted his sex drive to female in order for his woman bits to start working again?

  6. Cara Post author

    It’s called trans-phobic. And if you read the Advocate article, yes, Thomas does explain that he has been off of testosterone for about two years now.

  7. Jenny Dreadful

    I watched most of the Oprah show online, and I thought that although the panning shots of the gasping audience were pretty bad, it was overall not as horrible as I anticipated.

    Thomas himself is so eloquent and so absolutely likable that it’s my hope that a lot of the people who watched that show got won over by his wonderful and charismatic personality.


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