Last Friday there was a big trans-related story in the Washington Post. Apparently the conservative governor of Virginia has a former in-law, Robyn Deane, who has come out as transsexual. What’s more Deane is speaking out against the governor publicly in an election year over his positions on GLBT issues.
It’s a decent enough story. If I was writing for the Post, I’d run with it. Nothing wrong there. But then we come to the picture they decided to attach to the story.
Let me ask the obvious here. What does a picture showing Deane putting on eyeliner have to do with this story? In politics scandalous little family dramas like this pop up all the time. Yet only in this one does anyone deem it relevant to focus their camera on one of the principle characters in the story applying makeup, blow-drying hair, and pulling up stockings (all of those pictures are prominently featured on the web page of the story, but I’m not showing them all here).
It’s not exactly a mystery what’s going on here. Introduce a word like “transgender” into a news story, and suddenly there’s an expectation that it needs to be covered like a drag show. Look at the man putting on makeup and womens clothes! (insert nervous giggling) It’s just like Nathan Lane in the Birdcage! (more giggling)
Every time I try to think we’re making some progress in getting people past a junior-high level of dialogue about trans related issues, I see something like this. Yeah, we’ve come a long way but there is still a LOT more room to grow.