Austen Crowder

I'm sorry, you're just not manly enough for this interview

Filed By Austen Crowder | April 06, 2009 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Transgender & Intersex

I was really hoping the Tayisa Elzy reporting issue would simply be an isolated Hoosier incident -- no such luck!

They scheduled an interview with me for this morning with an 8:50am arrival time for a 9:20am live air interview. I arrive on time, conservatively dressed with a long skirt, tights and a scarf up to my neck. We chat cordially in the break room first and then move to the green room. The publicist goes to talk to the anchor, and returns at 9:18AM to say "Micha I have some uncomfortable news. I'm so sorry, but because of how you're dressed, they can't have you on the show." She goes on to tell me how they want to cover the Second Life aspect of the story and not talk about transgender issues at all.

I've followed this art project for a little while now. The idea behind the installation is really interesting, if not a little creepy, and does a great job of emphasizing the benefits and perils of immersive entertainment. As a sci-fi geek and occasional Second Life user the piece has a special place in my heart. But apparently the local TV news outlet has decided that an exhibit about the virtual/real life of the artist can, well, ignore the life of the artist:

Now, this may be little more than internet drama, but it is worrisome that a transgender person would be refused an interview because of his/her gender status. They were obviously interested in the art installation, but in the interest of keeping to the story they completely missed the point of the piece. An art piece about personal transformation is exactly that: transformation. How can transgender issues not be a part of the interview? Yet somehow this is the case, and this woman was turned away from a television interview just because she dresses as herself. Sure, the art was fine and dandy; it's the artist that rubs everyone the wrong way.

Tangential to the point is the terribly unprofessional way this case was handled. The station obviously saw the installation as newsworthy enough to warrant a live interview. The interview was cancelled shortly before it began because of her transgendered identity, no warning, no real reason beyond "we don't want a guy in a dress on our show." Did this stop them from running the story and having the interview? Of course not! The show went on without the artist, who was suddenly a "he," and the art installation was explained.

I may be old fashioned, but if they wanted to be bigots they should have shown some professionalism in the first place. A simple "we need to cancel" metered out a week -- hell, even a day -- before the interview would have been nice. Instead they pull the rug out from under this woman with minutes to air, sorry for your trouble, thankyouverymuch.

Things like this make me worry about just how large the divide is between the law and common acceptance for transgender people. Sure, some laws exist that stop people from, say, killing us in the streets, but it is really bothersome to know that my validity as, say, a news-worthy source could be so smeared by my gender identity. And, if for no other reason than integrity, this kind of behavior has to stop.

Please contact the station and voice your opinion. I know this one's not specifically an indiana issue, but I think it's interesting because of previous issues that have come out of our state.

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