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Xtra editor's Facebook post sparks controversy

Xtra editor's Facebook post sparks controversy

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Trans activists call for, then call off, boycott of Xtra
Xtra found itself at the centre of a controversy when assignment editor Danny Glenwright posted the birth name of a trans person on his Facebook wall when linking to a story about her on xtra.ca on Dec 12.
 
The trans woman, Lexi Tronic, says she was offended by the reference to her birth name. Several trans activists called Glenwright’s Facebook post “transphobic” and on Dec 13 called for a boycott of Xtra until the paper apologized for it. They called off the boycott the next day, after Glenwright apologized to Tronic personally.
 
Glenwright later published an opinion piece on xtra.ca’s Roundup blog, in which he provided some background to the story and criticized the boycott call. That column has quickly become the most-read story on xtra.ca and sparked more than 100 comments on the site.
 
Tronic and Glenwright were classmates in Winnipeg, where they grew up together, and have known each other for 24 years, Glenwright says. Glenwright says he was surprised when Tronic became the subject of Xtra reporter Andrea Houston’s recent feature on sex workers. Tronic was profiled in that story as a transgender and sex workers' rights activist.
 
Glenwright says he wanted to show their mutual friends in Winnipeg how far Tronic has come and posted a link to the story on his Facebook wall, using her birth first name so they would recognize her.
 
“Another strange and wonderful ‘small world’ type connection. I have known Lexi (born ****) since Grade 4 and attended my first rave at 14 with her,” he wrote. [We have removed Tronic’s previous first name from this story.]
 
Some trans people feel that referring to a trans person’s birth-assigned gender or name without that person’s explicit consent can be hurtful or offensive, in that they feel it invalidates their transition. If they’re not out, it may also breach their privacy or expose them to danger.
 
Although Glenwright did not use Tronic’s birth surname and she is out to her friends and family and widely known in Winnipeg – she was once the subject of a feature in Xtra in which she gave the author permission to use her full original name and she links to the story from her personal website (satanictrannyslut.com), and she appeared in the internationally syndicated television show Kink – Tronic says she felt wronged that Glenwright used her name in a public forum without obtaining her explicit permission. [NOTE: Tronic removed the link from her website shortly after this story was published.]
 
Glenwright has since apologized to Tronic for offending her and removed the post from his Facebook wall. Tronic has refused to comment for this story.
 
This isn’t the first time Xtra has been criticized by members of the trans community. Earlier this year, Xtra published a story about trans artist Elisha Lim, in which instead of using Lim’s chosen pronoun, the singular “they,” Xtra simply referred to Lim by Lim’s name. Some commenters called that decision transphobic.
 
While acknowledging the inherent problem in English that there is no gender-neutral singular personal pronoun, Xtra considers singular “they” to be confusing for readers.
 
In the wake of the current controversy, some commenters have questioned Xtra’s commitment to trans issues.
 
While Xtra bills itself as “Canada’s gay and lesbian news,” the mission statement of Xtra’s parent company, Pink Triangle Press, reads, “'We have chosen as our public lesbians and gay men, but we bear in mind all those who challenge gender or bend the borders of desire.”
 
Xtra strives to accommodate bisexual, trans, queer, two-spirited and queer allies under that rubric in its reporting, says Xtra publisher Brandon Matheson.
 
“Even though our prime focus is gays and lesbians, we have a lot of people who are trans gay and lesbian people who still are quite active and follow what Xtra does, and the content would be of interest to them,” he says. “Xtra has covered lots of trans-focused material. But the news that is of interest to that community is often of interest to the gay and lesbian community where a lot of our struggles and our interests intersect.”
 
Moving forward, Xtra hopes to continue dialogue both within the trans community and to the wider community. The next issue of Xtra's Toronto edition will contain a guest editorial by out trans woman Tera Mallette, PTP’s quality assurance analyst.
 
In January, Xtra will launch a series of roundtable discussions about trans issues, in an effort to educate and inform writers and readers about trans issues in the media and the queer communities. Xtra will announce more details about the event as they become available.
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Comments

Tim...
Tim - have you read Danny's response? I would suggest you read it again, with more attention to detail. He never actually explicitly said that he apologized to Lexi Tronic. AND he mentions that he WILL NOT apologize for posting Lexi's birthname on his facebook. If you read Lexi's remarks about what happened, Danny initally refused to take down his post when asked by Lexi. Danny only makes a very general apology to people who felt offended, but then he goes on about how he was justified in using Lexi's birthname because he knew Lexi from before, etc. What is the point of apologizing for offending people, generally, if you aren't going to apologize for the act itself. If you really think that Danny was not defensive, then you need to take your 'friend glasses' off and take another look at what's happening. Everyone makes mistakes... but people need to be accountable to what they do, especially when their actions can be harmful and they are editors of a media publication.
refusal the issue
Hello!

It seems that the individuals on here who claim divisiveness don't understand one very simple fact: the outright REFUSAL of Mr. Glenwright to remove Lexi's birthname and the claim he has a right to post it. Period. End of story. Mr. Glenwright offered a phone apology after being HOUNDED. He then kept Lexi's name on his page despite saying he would remove it. He then published a story about him being the victim of bullying of trans activists all the while claiming to be an ally, AND STILL REFUSING to account for his REFUSAL to remove the damned name!

If you don't know why this caused a huge reaction in the trans community then noone can explain it better for you.
Breeding ground for divisiveness
I return to the Xtra website to find the commentary for the articles published of late still going strong and still as negative and hateful as ever. Still perpetuating what is sadly commonplace in our community - divisiveness. Instead of using this situation as a springboard for dialogue that could help us learn from each other and share information that could potentially alert people to behaviours or actions they would not otherwise know are considered offensive to others in one of the many communities that make up our larger community. I have had the privilege of knowing Danny for nearly ten years, and our community is lucky to have someone that is so passionate about human rights and is not afraid to speak up and share his views on whatever the issue is at hand. He is a respecte journalist that tells as much of a story as he can, researching and gathering facts and info and includes voices of people that have lived experience he can share in a story. So his writer happened to find someone to contribute to her assignment on sex workers that happened to be a person he shared past experiences with. They still have some common friends and they knew the name of the person now known as Lexi. Danny shared the birthname to help make a connection for people sharing a common past. He wouldn't have used it knowing it would be offensive and result with him deemed transphobic and spark such hatred for him and Xtra. I read an apology, but others claim it was clouded by defensiveness. Danny even accounts his phone call to Lexi and apologising for using her name, but this isn't good enough. I was tickled when this article was shared and many responses to it disgusted that it did not acknowledge Danny's poor actions. It did not have too and it wasn't the intention of the article. I think it was a nice piece exposing the flawed attempt to claims use of her birthname was transphobic. I support Xtra and we all should. Lets use it for dialogue that can help us unite not divide.
respect
As a proud supporter of the trans community, and the lover of a proud trans woman, I have witnessed the daily struggles associated with being trans in this shitty time. I have followed this story from the beginning, and see this as more than just a passing interest. Conversations like this need to continue happening. We all need to be as vocal is we ever want to be heard. I'd like to thank everyone who stood up for themselves, their rights, and their commitment to positive change. You have brought to light some of the larger issues we need to challenge. I will be standing by your side. I'm proud of all of you. This is just the beginning.
Savannah's post on Dec. 19 at 4:10 pm
I think it's great that Savannah is a physicist. In particular, I understand that her last appointment was as a postdoctoral researcher in the Chemical Physics Theory Group at the University of Toronto. Aside from working to break down trans stereotypes as an activist, she personifies it in her work. It's upsetting that an academic in a supposedly progressive environment like a university would not give her a recommendation letter that refers to her as Savannah and uses female pronouns. I would think a recommendation letter should be based solely on her knowledge, skills and past performance as a physicist and an academic. (P.S. I am anti-QuAIA, so Savannah does not have much use for my politics and I have strongly disagreed with her in the past over QuAIA. As a result, in real life, we would never like each other. Still, I really don't like the way she was treated by her former supervisor.)
Multiple universes; light years apart
Dealing with Trans is like tiptoeing barefeet on eggshells. So you are going through a “transition” --that you elected to do. You have the hormone levels and fluctuations of a pubescent teen --with braces on her teeth. And now you expect the whole world to take notice of you and redirect all previous cultural values to suit you. It's all about you. You are the most important thing happening in the world. You are the centre of your own universe --just like everyone else is the centre of their own universe. Multiple universes; light years apart.
Someone, Somewhere 2nd pt
And btw, before bragging about how many cis queers are out there writing letters against McVety's hate ads, I would maybe keep in mind that a lot of trans people just scraping to get by, including a significant number of trans women who are doing survival sex work. I mean, really, when you brag about the amount of time spent writing letters and such, you're kind of bragging on your privileges (and I acknowledge with, relatively speaking, a fair amount of privilege myself). We're also a much smaller portion of the population.
Someone, Somewhere
I will give you credit this time that at least your second comment comes across a bit more sincere than your first. You're right that tribalism can at times be excessive, and indeed there have a few comments on these two threads that went over the top in attacking Danny. That is a fair point. Now, when you suggest that maybe trans people expect McVety to do the kind of things he does, as compared to what happened in the present case, there is some truth to that. However that does reveal the full scope of things. I think oftentimes cis people fail to understand what is at stake for us. For example, at an earlier point in my transition, I needed a recommendation letter from one of my previous academic advisors. Since I am applying to my new job as Savannah, I need a letter that refers to me as Savannah and uses female pronouns. My advisor flat out refused this request, meanting that essentially I get no recommendation for no other reason than the fact that I am trans and he refuses to use my chosen name. That isn't fucking tiddly-winks that is at stake, that is my fucking job! Now if even someone who calls themselves my "ally" gets away with calling me by my birth name in order to "spark dialogue," just what the fuck am I supposed to tell my goddamn stuffy-ass boss when I need a fucking recommendation letter??
Dissapointing
I'm not normally the type to comment, but given the enormous amount of anti-trans hatred in the comments, by those claiming to speak for the LGB community no less, I think it's necessary.

Ignorance and poor education about trans issues are widespread even among those who support trans rights. Too often, the burden falls upon trans individuals to educate, repeatedly, those who call themselves trans allies about what is offensive and why. As allies, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves wherever possible, and to own, not deny, any mistakes we make along the way. If Glenwright's intentional use of Lexi's birth name was done out of ignorance, than it is hardly an overreaction for the community to expect a real apology.

The anti-trans bile in some of the comments on this thread is extremely disappointing. As a cis gay man, I'd like to state firmly that these comments do not speak for all of us, and to express my disappointment with Xtra for allowing such hateful garbage.

And Someone, I understand where you're coming from, but I really do think it's fair for the trans community to expect better from their allies than haters like McVety. McVety is undeniably a real enemy, what the trans community is right to question here is whether or not Glenwright, or Xtra, are committed to being allies, even when that means admitting that they did wrong.
"Someone, Somewhere"
Hello Mr. Somewhere,

This thread isn't about you, or gay men. It is about respecting trans people... especially trans women. But just so we're clear, yes, gay men have to deal with gender based phobia and violence (sometimes transphobic violence) as well, depending on how non-normatively masculine they present. They also deal with homophobic violence. This means that cis gay men should be ESPECIALLY interested in building bridges with trans women by supporting, and respecting them.... instead of trying to derail conversations with the greater power, privilege, and access they have vis a vis trans women.

And, in calling out ACTIONS that are cissexist or transphobic - nobody has said that Mr. Glenright is a horrible person. That is also a derailment. We are talking about behaviour - a refusal to respect trans women.

Thank you to everyone who has commented in support of respecting trans women/ppl.

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