Anatomy of a disrespectful press

There’s a rather nasty crime report doing the rounds right now which, sadly, is an easy bandwagon for internet transphobes and armchair “real men” to leap on to. To a lesser extent, it is a vehicle for trans fears, which I think is right, but not necessarily for the reasons enumerated.

A tabloid tranny tale

Yes folks: an expat businessman has murdered his bride after discovering she was a tranny! So many clichés. So much presumption! The story follows a vaguely predictable arc, with the most sensational and rabble-rousing assertion in the lede. What follows just about hangs together. Some stuff that looks suspiciously like police report. Some family comment. A friend observing, worriedly, that the perpetrator, Mr Chris Collier – who was living with his partner in Kusadasi, Turkey – might not survive the 24 years in a Turkish prison to which he has now been sentenced.

Perhaps he has watched Midnight Express!

And a teeny bit more substance to that “wife’s a trans” allegation. Ah. It was a comment made on an internet forum by someone claiming to be Mr Collier, that the police were investigating. OK.

The piece looks whole, but if you write for a living you tend to spot the joins. It looks cobbled together. In every paper where its appeared to date – the Sun, the Mail, the Metro – apart from GayStarNews,where a healthy dose of scepticism is introduced.

A history of non-investigation

So. Let’s dig a bit more. The same story, almost identical apart from the fact that the guy has merely been arrested for the crime, appears in a local Staffordshire rag (Mr Collier comes from Staffs) back in December 2010. Same facts. Same quotes. Only difference: not a hint that the wife is trans.

A day later, still in 2010, it is the Star that reveals the key fact…the thing that clearly is the most important bit of this story:

Police are examining postings in an internet forum used by expat Brits from someone claiming to be Collier.

One said: “I paid for my wife and then moved to Kusadasi in my rented apartment.”

The blogger added that Julia “used to be a bloke”.

Aha! There we have it. Proof positive. Which is odd, because a day or so later, the Turkish papers are quoting the Star as introducing an interesting angle to the case, so they didn’t know, and…two years later, the combined journalistic intelligence of the Mail, the Sun, the Star, the Metro – and no doubt one or two others – has quite failed to determine whether this allegation is true or not. Presumably the Turkish police are still investigating.

Slow work, Turkish detecting.

Or maybe no-one on that assortment of great newspapers has had the nous to pick up a phone to the local police press office and ask what their conclusion was.

A poisoned source

But hang on. The Star must have got their quote from somewhere. And lo…turn the clock back ANOTHER four years, to mid-2006, and here is a bloke posting a drunken rant in a local expat forum. Yes. His nick is Chris Collier. He makes the allegations later repeated. He also owns to having drunk too much. He further adds a tale about how he was arrested for threatening a bunch of youths with a gun.

And other posters don’t entirely believe him.

So if this is the real Mr Collier – and there’s no proof whatsoever that it is – then the real story goes something like this: Violent man with history of drinking murders his wife.

And poisonous outpourings

Ah. But that is SO much less interesting than man murders trans wife. Or better still, man murders wife BECAUSE he discovered she was trans. There is no evidence whatsoever for making that leap in the forum postings. After all, if it was Mr Collier, he took another four years before he actually took the plunge. But it doesn’t stop the papers from speculating.

No. The truth here is that this is utterly shoddy pisspoor journalism. One writer, the Star’s crime correspondent, finds something back in 2010. Its interesting. Its definitely worth investigating. And he does at least have the goodness not to quote the trans wife thing as gospel.

Two years later, the pack follow. No-one has followed up on anything. No-one has checked. No-one has updated the story. Or rather, they have updated it without, as I can see, any evidence, to add the idea that transness was a motive.

Was she really trans? We don’t know.

Was she murdered because she was trans? We don’t know?

Has the press pack just printed a load of unchecked speculation that has acted as springboard for vile comment along the lines of “don’t blame him…”

Yep. Sadly, the evidence for that is plastered across the websites of almost all today’s tabloids.

jane xx

9 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    demelzab said,

    The word “after” is so convenient for these sorts of articles. Any challenge is contested by asserting that it means “sequence of unrelated events”, while the context implies, so so strongly, “post hoc ergo propter hoc”.

    It’s a perfect gutter press story, ticking so many boxes: crime, exotic location, “mail order bride”, photo of pretty girl, quote from a “celebrity”. Being able to work in an allegation of transexualism puts the cherry on the cake.

  2. 2

    Kimberley said,

    Excellent piece. I read it last night in the mail and didn’t spot what you have pointed out. I need to stop believing what I read.

  3. 3

    Crista said,

    IF the deceased was a real woman then this ia a sad case. If it was a a dude then I have to say he brought it on homself by not telling the guy he is a tranny.

    • 4

      janefae said,

      Or…killing someone for being trans is OK? Which is what that boils down to. I’m going to respond, because the sheer stupidity of this comment is worth pointing out for anyone who comes after.

      First up,we don’t know whether the woman was trans or not. However, if she was, then we know that because her husband told the world that fact over four years before he murdered her. He’s made no statement since. But there is no evidence one way or the other as to whether he was “deceived” or went into this marriage with eyes wide open. Whereas, if that were the case, you’d expect friends or family, in the interviews following the incident, might just have made some comment on that.

      So, on the evidence, if trans, this woman told her husband at least four years before he killed her: possibly a lot longer.

      And if that really was a problem for him? Well, since he was a UK citizen, he could possibly have filed for divorce in the UK on grounds of unreasonable behaviour or, if he wished to try and hang on to “his” share of marital assets, that very fact – that he hadn’t been told – would have allowed him to apply for an annulment.

      So-o. If the worst case happened from your perspective…his wife was trans and didn’t tell him up front…he had four years to sort that out without resorting to violence.

      But in the end, the entirety of your short comment is just vile. You see trans folk as less worthy of human rights…deserving of death should they fail to conform to your expectations. I suspect – and for once i don’t see this as too extreme a comparison – that some of the guards at Auschwitz took this view of their gay prisoners. So you’re in good company.

      If trans, to get married this woman needed to have had her female gender legally recognised – and unless the sex life between the couple was pretty odd, to have transitioned to the point where physically it was difficult to impossible for her husband to spot her past.That may be cause for philosophical debate. Not for murder.

      jane xx

  4. 5

    Lexie Cannes said,

    Good job here Jane!

  5. 6

    James said,

    Jane – thanks for this really interesting article. Looking at the other comments in that forum where “used to be a bloke” was written, it is clear from two of the mods there that that comment came from an IP in Leeds, which appears to make it highly likely it’s not the real Collier. Someone should try and contact the police in Kusadasi…

  6. 7

    Mazzy Knight said,

    Hi Jane. I read your blog as often as I can and always enjoy it. I would like to know if you would like to record a 3/4 minute “world according to Jane” style item on my weekly transgender news show on Planet Maz Radio. Email me if you are interested.

  7. 8

    […] The following borrows heavily from a blogost by Jane Fae. […]

  8. 9

    James Alexander said,

    I find it astonishing that so many people are interested in smutty stories instead of getting to the nub of the problem.
    1. If there is a god why would he or she put a bunch of people on earth to be abused and violated by the happy majority who fit comfortably in the little boxes marked M and F?
    2. If it is not an act of god why do apparently intelligent people not realise that gender is a sliding scale, those who do not fit in the boxes had no choice or vote on how they were born, it is not about lifestyle.
    3. The tiny percentage who transition is dwarfed by the large number of people who would change their gender if it wasn’t for the fear of violence and institutionalised discrimination in western culture.
    4. Their is a long history in eastern culture of acceptance where trans-gender people are productive members of society.
    5. We accept transgender people who entertain us, are celebrities or look good, we are violent to those who don’t measure up or are just trying to be who they are.
    6. There is a huge link between intolerance (in many subject areas) and low IQ. I exclude religeous people from this as their ignorance is born out of a much more fundamental reasons, but it is still ignorance.

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