He Had a Sex Change. So What?

What Women Really Think
May 22 2009 8:39 AM

He Had a Sex Change. So What?

On Wednesday, Hanna asked " Is it normal to be transgender ?" On Thursday, Adam Reilly at the Boston Phoenix asked whether being transgender is newsworthy. Reilly analyzes the coverage of Aiden Quinn, the 24-year-old subway driver who crashed a Boston train earlier this month, injuring 50, moments after texting his girlfriend. And hey, by the way, he used to be a woman. Reilly writes:

Given Quinn's admission that he was, in fact, texting prior to the accident, there's a general consensus that he's a dumbass. But there's no such agreement among the Boston media as to whether his switch from identifying as a woman to a man was germane to the larger story.

Advertisement

According to Reilly's story, WFXT-TV and the Boston Herald played up Quinn's sex change. New England Cable News dropped the detail late in its story. And some Boston Globe pieces didn't even mention it. As Globe Metro Editor Brian McGrory told Reilly: "It's certainly a provocative part of his personal history, but the question we asked was, 'Was it relevant to the crash itself?' And we couldn't determine that it was."

In the spirit of letting the American Psychiatric Association's DSM , the Bible of psychiatry, define what's "normal," it's interesting to turn to another definitive book - the New York Times style guide - for its take on gender identity. Here's how the old Gray Lady handled it. Reporting on Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's plan, in response to the crash, to ban bus and train operators from having cell phones with them while on duty, the Times never mentions Quinn's sex change. Apparently it considers that fact irrelevant. And the paper does call him Mr.

Of course, the kind of restraint shown by the Times and the Globe , while good for journalism, might be less good for humor. Excessive mentions of gender or sexual identity in a news story makes for some classic, great parody .

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 8:15 AM Ted Cruz Will Not Join a Protest of "The Death of Klinghoffer" After All
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 9:03 AM My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. And Then I Found Myself With Someone Like Dad.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 8:27 AM Only Science Fiction Can Save Us! What sci-fi gets wrong about income inequality.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 7:30 AM Ring Around the Rainbow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.