Monday, November 10, 2008

NYT covers trans voting challenges; blows it

I was going to write about the Nov. 4 New York Times article on voting difficulties faced by transgender voters, but Alex Blaze at Bilerico pretty much said it:

There are serious issues for many transgender people when it comes to voting. Their name might have changed since registering to vote, states with stringent photo ID laws (like Indiana) can pose a problem for trans folk whose gender expression doesn't match their drivers' license, and plain old transphobia of some poll workers might intimidate transgender people who have a right to cast a vote.

But you wouldn't know that from the article. Someone who's unfamiliar with the topic would probably think that transwomen are just more concerned with getting their hair done.

It didn't look like Ms. Carver would cast a vote this election, which was just as well to her because she was headed out for the evening and had a scarf around her head and large hoop earrings in her hair and tight clothes on her tall slim body. The official told Mr. Braxton that Ms. Carver could apply for a provisional ballot or even try going before a judge before the polls closed at 9 p.m., to try to get on the ballot.[...]

"That gives you an idea of her priorities," Father Braxton said, shaking his head. "She wanted to get her hair done."

I'm sure there were plenty of transwomen who wanted to vote in New York City who could have been profiled in this article. Or the Times could have done an article about voter apathy and used Michelle Carver as an example.

So good on the Times for at least referring to Michelle Carver with female pronouns and a female honorific. But this issue deserves serious coverage, not condescending commentary on a someone who isn't even facing the problems outlined in the beginning of the article.

Argh.

1 comment:

Aviva said...

This one really blew my mind. "It looked like she wouldn't get to vote, which was just fine with her because of her clothes." Even leaving aside the obsessive way journalists tend to describe trans folks' physical presentation, the sentence just doesn't make any sense.