Monday, November 9, 2009

The Media: How is Chaz Bono's Transition Being Portrayed?

Friday's Bilerico Project had a fascinating article Chaz Bono's representation in the media. Here is an excerpt:

Chaz Bono, the child of Sonny of Cher, paraded before the nation in the frilliest dresses as a child, separated from parents after coming out as gay, losing a father in a tragic accident, and finally reconciling with his mother as he battled his way through addiction and denial before finally starting his transition at 40, is an interesting case.

Anyone who doubts that his presence and involvement in Hollywood was and is significant forgets that he has access to some of the most powerful people in the media, for Hollywood is absolutely part of the media, and these people, entertainers, inform the world in ways that people generally don't even want to know about, let alone think on.

His work with
GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has helped them to have a reach that might have been difficult otherwise, and his background involvement with projects is often rumored to be somewhat critical.

It doesn't hurt that his mother is somewhat more than revered by many gay and trans folk across the world, either.

In coming out as Trans, he gives us an outstanding case to look at how far the media, and those who get involved with the media, has come, and how far it has to go.

One example is the recent piece selected by the local press here for their story on him. Rather than have a local person write it from several different stories, as the Arizona Republic usually does with what they perceive to be controversial stories, they chose (an active action on their part) to go with the stringer version from "BANG Showbiz", a London based entertainment news agency who's "clients include all the major British tabloid newspapers, European magazines, commercial British radio stations and a galaxy of top entertainment outlets".

This article is quite surprising from a trans point of view. It starts off with "Cher's Daughter" - something that Chaz can probably expect to hear for the rest of his life, and one example of why the relationship that transfolk have with their families can often be complex - the fame and visual remainders will haunt him as reminders of privilege lost - cissexual privilege.

They respect, however, his name - which is notable. He is not called Chastity throughout it. This may have something to do with the Gender Recognition Act in the UK - I don't know, but that is about as far as the respect goes.

So why, one might wonder, does a Gannet owned, Phoenix, Arizona based newspaper go to a story from outside the country? Perhaps because other American sources for Chaz aren't as insulting in their somewhat more respective use of the proper pronouns? Or maybe its because this BANG Showbiz group is cheaper, or possibly even could it be that there aren't any local US stories about?

To read this entire story at The Bilerico Project, click here.

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