Exploiting Trans* People in the Media: Yellow Journalism?

World English Dictionary

yellow journalism
n
the type of journalism that relies on sensationalism and lurid exaggeration to attract readers http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/yellow+journalism

Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers.  Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.  By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism

Did Magic Johnson get HIV from a Transsexual Hooker? Gawker Will Pay for Tips On This

Thursday, 12 July 2012 15:08
Written by Sergio N. Candido

http://www.southfloridagaynews.com/news/national-news/6591-did-magic-johnson-get-hiv-from-a-transsexual-hooker-gawker-will-pay-for-tips-on-this.html

PBS’s Frontline premiered its latest documentary “AIDS in Black America,” on July 10, and NBA legend Magic Johnson, one of the most popular people to ever contract the disease,  was a part of it.

So Magic was asked the question he’s always been asked—how he got HIV—and he gave the same answer he has always given: “Sleeping with a lot of women.”

Gawker’s AJ Daulerio, however, writes that years back, a source told him Johnson might have actually gotten HIV not from a woman, but most likely during an infamous sex party at Eddie Murphy‘s mansion, where transsexual hookers were often involved.

The source wanted cash to go on the record, and the website didn’t have enough of it. But things have changed, and Gawker is now ready to write some checks: “If anyone has any more information about who gave Magic Johnson HIV, please feel free to contact us. I think we can afford to pay more money for this now,” Daulerio writes.

Zach Sire, editor of gay website the Sword, came out with guns blazing against Daulerio and his offer, calling him “dumb” and “sleazy.”

“If there’s one group of people whom you can trust with ‘information,’ it’s prostitutes and transexuals from orgies that happened over 20 years ago,” he writes in a sarcastic tone.

“A.J. Daulerio’s naivety has precluded him from realizing that even if he did receive proof of who gave Magic Johnson HIV publishing that person’s name would be illegal.”

We’re not sure what he meant by ‘illegal,’ you might get sued, but you can’t go to jail for publishing the name of someone who came forward and said he/she gave Magic Johnson HIV.

My Comments:

It is appalling to offer monetary compensation for revealing who exposed an individual to a chronic and likely terminal illness.   That person is not only sick themselves, but may be deceased.  Furthermore,  it is unconscionable to sensationalize a story by exploiting an entire class of already oppressed human beings.  Some—not all—transgender and transsexual  women are sometimes forced into sex work as a last resort, in order to survive—sometimes in order to feed their children— just as cisgender women are.   Headlines such as the one for this article serve to reinforce stereotypes about trans women.  Finally, focusing on the behavior of prostitutes (oppressed women) instead of on that of their customers (in this case, privileged men of great wealth) who are using their male and monied privilege to take advantage of these women  is pure misogyny; exploiting the possibility that these women may have been trans* is misogynistic and transphobic and is inexcusable in a “gay” publication.  Many of my trans* friends support LGB people without reservation; I, however, am beginning to agree with those who doubt that LGB people in general truly have the best interest of trans* people at heart and am beginning to believe that they are merely including/using trans* people in the LGBT “community” (and I use the word “community” loosely, if not sarcastically) purely to increase their numbers.

Questions:

1.  What do you think of the headline for this article?  Based on the 2 definitions of “yellow journalism” provided above, do you you think this article is an example of yellow journalism?  Why or why not”?

2.  Do you think trans* people should “secede” from the LTB movement and focus on needs specific to trans* people?  Why or why not?

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Posted on July 13, 2012, in transgender, transphobia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Exploiting Trans* People in the Media: Yellow Journalism?.

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