Professionalism and the press

I am very much less than impressed by the way in which, since the trans man story broke, various “friends” of the Beaumont Society have been doing the rounds of message boards and trying to claim this as a witch-hunt against their organisation.

That is diversionary, dishonest and really won’t wash. The simple fact is that, in journalistic terms, the BS outed the story and all their denials amount to little more than fairly disingenuous word play.

I have been fairly scathing in my reaction to this not because i have a specific axe to grind against the BS – or at least i didn’t before i started to encounter this defensiveness on their part – but because as a press professional, i was flabbergasted by the way in which they dealt with the press. I am seriously concerned, too, at the impact on the trans community if the main source for press comment is, essentially, a loose cannon.

Particularly given that the focus for press interest nowadays is on the transsexual end of things, while however much it may have evolved, the BS remains much more closely associated with the cross-dressing end.

In terms of professionalism, i find extraordinary public expression by a press officer of the view that the press “just” make it up.

I am flabbergasted that someone who answers the phone to the press claims not to have read a newspaper in ten years. Or that they see it as “success” to have such a high media profile because they give quotes when other organisations won’t.

And i am pretty unimpressed that a large chunk of the dealing with the press goes on verbally. No way: in a field as fraught as this, statements need to be by e-mail with limited follow-up questions allowed.

There is one other thing that maybe I am picking up as a journalist, which others might miss. UK convention is NOT to name spokespersons for an organisation unless they specifically request that they should be quoted by name. That way, you can be sure that you are giving an organisational view on a matter.

Comment on a matter should usually come from a press officer or be agreed in advance with a press officer. Freelance talking to the press is a recipe for disaster.

In all the coverage I have seen, Joanna Darrell appears NOT to be given a title, but simply to be referenced as “of the Beaumont Society”.

That raises other serious questions.

Was she acting with the blessing of the hierarchy, in which case why is she not down as a spokesperson?

Or if she acted alone, then that raises another serious, serious issue of competence. For it implies that as far as the BS is concerned, individual organisers are free to chat to the press and disclose confidential information without referring the matter back up the line.

If that were the case, it would be a reason for no-one with any interest in confidentiality ever again speaking to the BS.

I do hope it is not the case. I would hope we can have some re-assurance on this.

Unfortunately, the track record so far suggest we may have a while to wait.

jane xx

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20 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    k said,

    A post on another blog suggests that the Beaumont society spokesperson tweeted as follows:

    @Joannadarrell

    Doing telephone interview with Sunday times today about FTM trans people who have babies – wish me luck !!!!—
    Joanna Darrell (@Joannadarrell)

    February 12, 2012

    This suggests that this was a pre-arranged interview rather than something spontaneous.

    ( http://transactivist.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/pregnant-man-story-isnt-racy-enough-for-the-telegraph/)

    Darrell is a self-identified married “cross-dresser” with children who has written extremely poor documents on work place transition which may be easily found on Google.

  2. 2

    Look Jane, I know that I have made a few very flippant comments on this whole ghastly ‘affair’. I try not to read your blog where trans issues are concerned as I rather enjoy your articles on other subjects but feel you are still quite naive (in the nicest possible way) with regard to all of the supposed trans organisations with their petty self serving agendas.

    It’s very interesting to observe the way the BS has only just come onto your radar. They have been an organisation claiming charity statue while serving no definable charitable purpose for decades. They are arrogant to the point you can almost smell the testosterone and man smell (have you noticed that yet).

    Anyway, to the point…
    All of the petty politicking supposed trans advocacy groups, TMW, PFC, GIRES all play to their own nasty self serving little agendas. They are of as little use to genuine people with transsexual histories as the tabloid press. I’m really not interested in the whinging about things I don’t experience and probably never will. On the rare occasions I have had problems, for instance my TESCO stalker the police were fabulous. It matter was dealt with with the utmost sensitivity and efficiency. My pet hate, due to their gender bullying attitude is TMW. They advocate that vile TG label and their agenda specifically excludes anyone who refuses to be linked to the CD TV GQ scene. Please do remember their crowing about their ‘input’ during the making of MTS. Gratuitous use of the word tranny, and a link on the associated web pages recommending the BS as a source of advice and support for TS’s.

    I don’t need pathetic organisations who stand Kanute like peeing into the howling wind and often making things worse for none career (TS) women like myself. I want organisations which get me the right to FFS and good quality GRS in foreign countries not ranting about idiots who insist on putting themselves in awkward positions due to their lack of common sense. None of the useless self appointed mouthpieces have any interest in the issues facing genuine people.

    As I did say before, I smell a rat in this whole mess. I suspect the ‘trans’ man was asking for advise while thinking of touting his story to the highest bidder. Wouldn’t be the first time….

    • 3

      k said,

      Janett Scott and other members of the Beaumont Society may be seen in clips from a documentary on utube.

      With friends like these …..

      • 4

        O.M.G. !! Glad I never came within a million miles of BS. I just feel sooo embarrassed by this. What an awful documentary and voice-over. Everything I’ve come to hate about transgender representation. I’m sure they’re all happy, just not my world or space at all. It doesn’t represent me at all. Don’t ever let BS try and speak for me! I hate the conflict and bitching between any groups, but I think TMW has done rather more for my case recently.

      • 5

        Andy, you actually trust TMW an ‘organisation’ who’s agenda it to force women with a transsexual history under their ghastly TG banner. Unlike you I hold all TG groups in utter contempt and would never turn to any of them for help. Once I have everything sorted out as I wouldn’t have a uk butcher/surgeon touch me the word trans will just be a prefix for words like transformer, transducer and transcontinental. The trans gender scene can rot for all I care in it’s self made ghetto.

  3. 6

    If this is the public face of transsexuality, then transsexuality is doomed. Looking at this you can see and understand exactly why large swathes of the general public vacillate between disgust and laughing till their sides ache. It’s a train wreck, a disaster and sick a joke

    • 7

      But please bare in mind that MTS in which a drag queen, a none op of the shemale variety and a wrinkly pensioner who sounded like a truck driver were presented a representative of women with a transsexual history. Are you surprised when people like myself run a mile to avoid contact with what some refer to as the trans community?

      This blog is the only contact I have with the weird world of TG as I believe allowing/being bullied into the TG umbrella is why the general public sees things in the way you describe. For instance, look back at the idiot moaning that they weren’t allowed to us the female loos at a speedway track. I’m sorry but as someone said, they looked like Jonny Vegas in a frock. Speedway tracks are full of the motorcycling equivalent of football thugs, what did they expect. To transition takes effort, some of us are lucky some are not but there always seems to be the idiots there to ruin things for everyone else. Funnily enough unlike one poster here in particular, I don’t have rocks thrown at my house or gangs of people ridiculing me in the street. Wonder why that is?

      • 8

        Couldn’t agree more Sophie. I cannot think of a single organisation that says anything, advocates anything that has any relevance to what constitutes TS. This current circus and ensuing “Freak Show” merely cements that belief. Anything I need or believe in lines up with other women and I would not have that any other way. I don’t don’t need any artificial or “forced” special dispensation to use public facilities. I had more issues using the mens room pre-transition than I ever have using the women’s either post or pre for that matter.

        However to matters in hand I note with interest that our hostess here has not been slow in contributing to the media circus in “The Guardian” on” the pregnant man” issue. I must have missed something because I was under the impression Jane was advocating remaining silent to the press and has just given the BS a verbal tongue lashing for talking to the press on it. But this isn’t the first time disingenuous can be applied is it?

      • 9

        janefae said,

        yes…i rather think you DID miss something. I take the view that an organisation that provides a support service to vulnerable members ought not to be outing people with some expectation of confidentiality to the press.

        I am certainly not opposed to organisations speaking to the press generally, where such dialogue is sensible and relevant.

        And as a working journalist, for me to foreswear writing about issues of current topicality would be peculiar in the extreme.

        The difference, should you want it spelt out is this: I will happily write ABOUT subjects of relevance to this community; i will not out members of it.

        jane x

      • 10

        Ok Jane so let me make sure I have grasped the nuances here. Te BS who are a public organisation with a profile that claims to be able to speak with knowledge on matters concerning transsexuals was in your view “outing” this transman/mother by confirming they do indeed exist even though they were not named. Once they have committed (in your view) this crime or transgression it’s now ok for you to enhance your career as a professional trannie by writing in a paper that has a history of anti transsexual articles ABOUT the self same subject the BS did even though the person in question was not in fact outed? If that isn’t a double standard as well as disingenuous I don’t know what is. I do not accept that your writing in the Guardian on this issue is any different to the BS admitting the existence of the story. Besides it’s irrelevant since the press already knew what the BS admitted. As I have said before I don’t like the BS full of middle aged pipe-smoking transvestites as far as I’m concerned.

        Whoever this person is, I don’t care mothers giving birth happens every day and I congratulate them and wish them well and incidentally wish I could have been one of them but the very act while claiming to still be male is rather ridiculous don’t you see that? Lesbian or gay couples having children in anyway they can; fine again I wish them health and happiness but see it for what it is and don’t expect the rest of the world to help create the fantasy world for them. For the record, if I knew who this person was I wouldn’t “out” them either or anyone else for that matter but it’s going to come out sooner or later, count on it.

      • 11

        janefae said,

        If you think it helps to make a case by being deliberately offensive, feel free.

        In essence, though, i do more or less take this course. There is a world of difference between myself as a professional journalist writing ABOUT a subject and an organisation with a supposed duty of care to those that consult it confirming the existence of a case.

        If you don’t accept that, you don’t. I can’t help you any further.

        As for the “professional trannie” jibe: just grow up. I’m a writer. I was a writer before i transitioned and i will continue to be a writer for many years to come.

        I can’t help being trans. It isn’t particularly practical to go stealth – at least not without doing severe damage to my career – even assuming that were possible. I don’t regard myself as a “professional trannie”, beyond the fact that i am a professional and i happen to be trans. A very very small proportion of my annual income comes from writing about trans issues and in future, i rather suspect that will shrink, since i really don’t have any desire, or intention to keep coming back to the same well.

        You are quite simply wrong about the press having this story before they spoke to the BS. You won’t accept that, i know, since i can only assert it and can’t back it up without giving away a confidential source. But basically, without the BS confirmation there wasn’t a story.

        Sure: sooner or later there probably would have been…but the press would have had to work a lot harder to make it stick….and we might have been spared it for six months, a year….

        jane x

  4. 12

    ‘With friends like these’ indeed….

    Lifted from k’s comment, hope you don’t mind.

    “First feelings of gender dysphoria occurred 15
    years ago. I am married with children and have no
    desire to transition to become a trans-sexual,
    which makes me a cross-dresser, not a
    transvestite.”

    Which simply makes Darell a fetish dressing tranny weirdo with a tenuous grip on reality. Becoming a transsexual, WTF???? All the testosterone induced insensitivity of a tyre fitter. Think Darell needs a few accurate definitions knocking into his thick skull. I imagine Darell’s original idea of gender dysphoria was waiting until his wife went out in order to rummage through her knicker draw followed shortly after by lying on the bed surrounded by moist tissues.

    Am I making myself clear now as to why I will never recognise the TG term as it might be construed that nut jobs like trannys, cross dressers, Claire Lewis of CAAN or the gender nazi’s of TMW might share anything in common with me as a woman. I do hope that my contempt for the trans scene/ghetto comes over, all this comes from my experience of the career TS/TG’s and the never ending sex obsessed freak show of the general trans thing. Guess I’ll have to fight my own battles as I’ve always done as not one of the organisations pretending to have my best interests at heart can be trusted.

    • 13

      k said,

      Hi Sophie,

      Darrell has written “A Simple Guide to Work place Transition” which may be read here:

      http://www.beaumontsociety.org.uk/Help%20&%20advice/Beaumont%20Training/Transgender%20diversity%20training%202%20-%20transitioning.pdf

      Darrell makes the following assertions:


      • Approximately 400,000 people in the United Kingdom regularly experience feelings of Gender Dysphoria.

      • Of these, as many as 100,000 wish to undergo a transition to their true gender identity.

      • 10,000 of these people will discuss their desire to transition to a medical professional.

      • Leading to 6,000 people who complete their transition.

      • These figures are for MEN only !!! There are NO figures for how many WOMEN cross-dress……

      (Maybe it’s because women “Power-dress” instead”

      In other words, transition is all about cross dressing, women with a transsexual past are in fact “Men” and ts men do not exist ……

  5. 14

    Something has just dawned on me. You lot are commenting as if you’ve never seen this ‘piece of shit’ as Bill hicks would have said. Are you all telling me that you were blissfully unaware of this and other abominations which have graced the TV screens of the great unwashed????

    • 15

      Er, yes. Naive, unaware, never attracted by this kind of sensationalism so never drawn to watch. But then I never had a language to express my gender, never saw myself remotely like that, so it wasn’t in my sights any more than I would watch Top Gear or Match of the Day or read News of the World. We live, we learn and the world hurts in many ways. But I’m not bitter or angry any more than the gold prospector curses the river gravel.

  6. 16

    Well Sophie, I don’t often get called “Andy”, and I could get upset at that, but I won’t. The only people I fully trust are my friends who have been supportive. I do trust my (very local) support group, and it has been a tremendous help to me, and a place where I can give something back. There’s no beefing and bitching, it’s a diverse group and very tolerant. It’s just people getting their lives sorted out and being incredibly kind to each other. But things are, I feel, moving in a generally positive direction out there, if too slowly and I’d rather see TMW at Levenson than BS on the TV. On some little spot on the spectrum I am finding my place, discreetly but not without difficulty. The term transgender is OK with me, though I know like every word it has other connotations elsewhere. Just don’t call me a man, or give me a male name: I’m moving on.

    Andie

  7. 17

    Adam said,

    As someone who falls under the LBGT+ umbrella, but not the T, it’s interesting – or perhaps disturbing – to see the scorn that some people here are heaping on people whose gender expression (and their classification of it) they object to. It is absolutely no different to the worldview that says that physical sex at birth is the only truth. And it stinks.

  8. 19

    Lets simplify this a bit….

    Firstly, Adam, you have no idea of what of the can of worms which will blow up in your face if you continue to make dumb statements like that from your ill informed position. There is NO T in LGB, take it from me!

    Andie, for once it was a genuine mistake to misspell your name but if I’d wanted to have a go at you I would and I really couldn’t care less what you think of me. Newsflash, describing gender is difficult even for cis gendered folks. Do you not realise that women watch all sorts of television programmes? How the fuck does that relate to gender. I imagine it has something to do with the fact that website you keep is covered with pink flowers, very Barbie! You clearly hold some simplistic and naive ideas of gender and therefore bore me. Let me see, you go to the only group I have ever heard of where there are no politics and no bitching. You see, the only person in the world that I trust is my partner. I don’t rely one tranny support groups and don’t loose sleep over people who don’t like me, I don’t give a damn.

    Ciao.

    k, thanks for the link. Even when you think you know how out of touch and delusional the BS actually is. It really is one of those things you have to read several times to take in.

    Cassandra, thank you for putting into words much of the way I feel. I don’t trust anything or anyone involved in the so called professional ‘trans/tranny’ media industry which seems to be flavour of the month of late.

    k and Cassandra, you are both my kind of people. I can be found on FB if you ever want to get in touch but as you have probably guessed I don’t allow open discussion of trans things on my wall. I wouldn’t out anyone by this sort of stuff either.

    • 20

      Sophie: I’m just sad you feel the need to communicate such deep distrust, or anger, or resentment or whatever it is. And I say that quietly and gently. How do you type *quiet and gentle* rather than *strident*? My local group may well be unique: I really don’t know. But perhaps it benefits from not being national? There really isn’t bitching or politics there, and that’s why I like it. No sissies, no fetish, no industry: just people M2F and F2M helping each other through. And I just said that I hadn’t watched programmes like that discussed, and was rather hurt that some might think it representative. That’s all. *sigh* Not making a statement about gender. Not everything is. And I like orchids. But I don’t like Barbie. Never did. Is that simplistic? Maybe I like orchids because they’re simplistic? *note to self* : do oak trees next time, to represent the strength of my feminine feeling. I wish you well, but why be so rude? Does it help?


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