Sunday, July 27, 2008

I Went Off...Got Quoted...And Got Results

There's a quote from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich that states 'well-behaved women seldom make history'. You can probably edit that to cover well-behaved transwomen as well.

Now there are times and many situations as we go through life in which decorum and civility is not only needed, but required.

Then there are those times when you need to go straight the hell off to make your voice heard.

One of those times was in referring to the disrespectful way that Angie Zapata was depicted in a recent story about her murder despite having AP Stylebook guidelines in place since 2001 describing how to cover transgender people in media stories.

I have watched, written about and complained about repeated violations of these AP guidelines in blog postings over the last few years and they continued. But after reading the third story in succession this year that disrespected a transperson, (Saneshia Stewart, Duanna Johnson, Ebony Whitaker) I'd had enough.

My policy on TransGriot is to rewrite an offending transgender story using the AP Stylebook guidelines. I also follow the rules of giving full credit to the person and publication in which it appears when rewriting original source material.

So after composing this post, I was amazed to see this update forwarded to me by one of my TransGriot regular commenters Veronique.

The story was also picked up by Latino blogger Andres Duque at Blabbeando, who found the link to the local TV news footage of Angie's funeral service that has since been uploaded to YouTube.

Andres also has a followup piece on this story on Blabbeando as well discussing ABC News headline change on their blog post discussing the murder.

But let's ponder this for a moment. I've gotten some private communications from people that don't share my ethnic heritage implying that this blog is 'angry'. I have over 900 plus posts on various subjects from WNBA basketball to celebrating the 90th birthday of Nelson Mandela to short stories and poetry, but it's ludicrously considered an 'angry' or has an 'angry tone'.

It's also repeating the same borderline racist shade that has been thrown at me by some people because I dare speak out about injustice no matter where it comes from.

So ask yourself this question. If I hadn't wrote the post on Tuesday, would the story actually be getting legs in the media or the blogosphere, much less the mea culpa story in the Greeley Tribune later that day?

And to ask another question, would Angie be getting this type of respectful positive coverage instead of the initial negative spin if I hadn't complained about it on this blog and gave people the information and the impetus to call and complain to the Greeley Tribune and the writer about it?


Dale said...

I've only been reading this blog for a couple of months, so I am puzzled by the charge of it being "angry." I do remember a post or two which might have made persons uncomfortable - but some discomfort is part of growing.

The fact that the Greeley Tribune changed changed their reporting, and gave you credit speaks well of your influence. Keep on speaking as you do - we need your voice!

Monica Roberts said...

So am I. But one of the things I warned people about in my first post back in 2006 was that there would be times when I made you laugh, made you cry, or pissed you off.

But it was going to be a quality blog that in the words of the legendary DJ Jack 'The Rapper' Gibson, told it like it T-I-S is.

If I played a part in ending the negative spin developing about SAngie Zapata's life and getting the media to focus on the fact this was an 18 year old kid who was brutally murdered because shew was transgender, then it's all good.

It it results in future positive coverage for all transgender people from this point forward in print and television stories, then that's all good too.

Unknown said...


If your blog is angry, then you just keep on being angry. Whatever it is you are doing is working, and besides which its a damn good read. Yours is and has been one of a handful of blogs I check every day that I am online. I am guessing that for every one of those that happen by saying you are angry, there are ten of us here on a regular basis that appreciate your viewpoint and insights.

Monica Roberts said...

Thanks Shannon.
Always nice to know that one of my loyal readers appreciates what I try to do in my little piece of the blogosphere.

Autumn Sandeen said...

I know I sent in a letter to the Greeley Tribune specifically because of your coverage here at Transgriot, and made sure GLAAD's Executive Director Cindi Creager was informed on the Tribune's coverage.

Ms. Creager sent me an email to let me know that GLAAD actualy contacted the publication -- I don't know who called GLAAD first and got requested that they get involved, but I'm glad they listened to that first someone who contacted them and got involved.