“Focus on the science, not the scientist.” That is what Caleb Hannan promised Dr. V when interviewing her about her golf putter. However, during his research for his piece, Hannan found out that Dr. V happened to be trans*. Upon this discovery, Hannan broke his promise to his client and proceeded to write a piece, focusing on Dr. V’s past, her trans* status, misgendering her, and outing her to her investors. Due to this, Dr V committed suicide. Despite this tragedy, the piece still went up.
A piece littered with misgendering, focusing on her history as a trans woman, and painting Hannan in the light of some detective uncovering the Watergate of this century. Why? Because the woman he was writing about happened to have a different birth assignment than the one he assumed? He broke the trust and privacy of the person he was writing about for a profit. His story about a golf putter suddenly became one of lies and deceit in his eyes. Why? What does the assigned gender of a person have anything to do with golf? Was this story about her overcoming misogyny? Was this a story of intelligence beating out bigotry? It was not. This was supposed to be a story about the science behind the golf putter Dr. V invented.
Forget “focus on the science” that he promised this woman. She was no more, so to the wind that went. The entire piece became about the scientist, that Hannan had killed with his own hands. This man even had the gall to call a piece full of misgendering, pointless back story, and broken promises a eulogy. Last time I checked, a eulogy was not the cause of death. He even went as far as to brag on Twitter about the “strangest story” he has ever written. Are eulogies supposed to be strange? Or are they supposed to highlight the triumphs, life, and positives of a person’s life? Hannan is directly responsible for the death of a woman. So, what will happen?
If the case of Lucy Meadows is any indicator, the answer is nothing. For those unfamiliar, Mrs. Meadows was a teacher who decided to transition while teaching at the same location. Upon finding the letter that was sent to parents, explaining Meadows’ situation, Richard Littlejohn of the Daily Mail proceeded to shame and harass the woman. Meadows committed suicide due to the harassment she experienced at the hands of Littlejohn. What happened to Littlejohn? He is still a frequent author for the Daily Mail. There was no justice for Meadows. Sadly, there most likely will be no justice for Dr. V either.
If the past has any tidbits to offer, when the TransAdvocate exposed Victoria Brownworth for exposing the genitals of a trans* minor for profit, the amount of justice delivered was the same. None. People flocked to defend Brownworth from rightfully angry trans* people. She had exposed a child for profit and exposed him to the nation through her gross detailed explanation of his genitals. She painted the picture in the minds of thousands of what a CHILD’s genitals look like. What happened to Brownworth? The same thing that happened to Littlejohn and most likely will happen to Hannan, nothing. Brownworth is still considered a highly valued writer and lesbian advocate. Oh, did I mention she won awards for her pedophilia and voyeurism?
Media consistently tells trans* people that we are not worthy. We are jokes. Every where we turn, we are the butt of another joke, another murder, another shock piece. Our society is fascinated with us, for all the wrong reasons. We are seem as freaks, deceivers, liars. We are asked invasive questions about our bodies and our histories. We are exposed if we are stealth as some ‘great’ service to the world, though our outing often leads to us becoming homeless, assaulted, jobless, and so on. We are harmed more through this outing, than we ever are living in stealth.
So what does this tell the world about us? What is the message that we are receiving as trans* people? We are not worth anything. Our lives are disposable for profit. Our lives and stories, good for a quick buck. Good for maybe a quick show or a special. When we speak out against our portrayals, we are told we should accept anything we can get. To the world, the rotten crumbs we receive should sustain us. When people like Brownworth, Littlejohn, and Hannan, are allowed to keep their jobs, praised for their work, and see no ill for their trespasses, we pass the message for other media agents that it is ok to exploit trans* people. Trans* people are good and easy targets for exploitation, for profit. Our lives and stories are in right now, even if it means our lives as they actually are, are not.
Our stories are “strange”, “unique”, and “bizarre”. We are reduced to our identities as trans* people at the erasure of our other identities. We are expected to always talk about our trans* lives, no matter how invasive the question. We are expected to be candid, to be open, and to greet these questions with open arms. I mean, people actually care! People want to know! Or do they? Take the example that Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera recently gave on the Katie Couric show. They refused to answer questions about their genitals, instead focusing on their triumphs, their careers, and the very real reality trans* people face.
Dr. V’s murder exposes a much deeper issue, a prominent vein that runs not just through journalism, but through the media, and to the very heart of society. In our cissexist, trans*phobic, and transmisogynistic society, we are not seen as anything more than a profit. We are not people. We are stripped of our humanity. Just look at how we are often described “a transgender”, “a transgendered”, “a trans”, “a male-to-female”, “a female-to-male”. We are stripped of our identity as humans, as people. We are objectified, vilified, and sensationalized as less than. We are removed from humanity before humiliated, stripped bare, and expected to take it however it comes whether it be in the form of jokes, articles, TV shows, movies, journalism, anything. There will be no #JusticeforDrV until we address the fact that society does not see people, it sees objects to be exploited and profited on.