'Tranny' headline insulting, says PCC

The Press Complaints Commission has upheld a complaint that the Belfast-based Sunday Life newspaper discriminated against a transsexual when it published a story headlined “Tranny worked in rape centre”.

Keira McCormack, of Warrington, complained that the story, published on 1November last year, breached of Clause 12 (discrimination) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

It reported concerns that McCormack, a male-to-female transsexual, had worked as a rape counsellor in Belfast.

It referred to her in the headline and the copy as a “tranny”, and described her as “strapping” and “burly”.

McCormack said the term “tranny” was deeply insulting, adding that there was a significant difference between transvestites and transsexuals, and that the term tended to be used by the former.

The newspaper said that no offence was intended in the use of the word “tranny”, which it considered to be widely used in articles about transsexuals and transvestites.

While McCormack might not have appreciated the adjectives to describe her build, they were relevant in the context of the story, the paper said.

Upholding the complaint in an adjudication published today, the PCC said that while the newspaper was entitled to publish a story about people’s concerns over the suitability of McCormack’s employment, her gender identity should not have been open to ridicule.

Taking into account the full context of the piece, it considered that the use of the word “tranny” was pejorative as it was a “needless abbreviation, held by many to be offensive.”

McCormack also made a number of other complaints about the article and a follow-up piece headlined “Rape expert slams Keira appointment” which appeared on 8 November.

In particular, she said the coverage “outed” her as a transsexual, included a photograph of her in a private place, and generally represented an unjustified intrusion into her private life.

The PCC said it understood that McCormack considered the publicity about her gender reassignment to be unwelcome but the newspaper was entitled to report people’s concerns about her suitability as a rape counsellor.

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