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How Grantland totally failed

The only thing keeping me from assuming that Grantland, which published that awful outing of a transgender woman, is a haven of unethical wankerism, is that one of their writers, Christina Kahrl, seems to get it.

It was not Grantland’s job to out Essay Anne Vanderbilt, but it was done, carelessly. Not simply with the story’s posthumous publication; that kind of casual cruelty is weekly fare visited upon transgender murder victims in newspapers across the country. No, what Hannan apparently did was worse: Upon making the unavoidable discovery that Vanderbilt’s background didn’t stand up to scrutiny, he didn’t reassure her that her gender identity wasn’t germane to the broader problems he’d uncovered with her story. Rather, he provided this tidbit to one of the investors in her company in a gratuitous “gotcha” moment that reflects how little thought he’d given the matter. Maybe it was relevant for him to inform the investor that she wasn’t a physicist and probably didn’t work on the stealth bomber and probably also wasn’t a Vanderbilt cut from the same cloth as the original Commodore. But revealing her gender identity was ultimately as dangerous as it was thoughtless.

What should Grantland have done instead? It really should have simply stuck with debunking those claims to education and professional expertise relevant to the putter itself, dropped the element of her gender identity if she didn’t want that to be public information — as she very clearly did not — and left it at that. “That would have been responsible,” transgender activist Antonia Elle d’Orsay suggested when I asked for her thoughts on this road not taken. It’s certainly the path I would have chosen as a writer making this sort of accidental discovery, or would have insisted upon as an editor.

The editor of Grantland, Bill Simmons, on the other hand…ouch. He’s got a long, long mea culpa out that at least clearly admits that they screwed up, but also admits that the problem runs very deep.

Before we officially decided to post Caleb’s piece, we tried to stick as many trained eyeballs on it as possible. Somewhere between 13 and 15 people read the piece in all, including every senior editor but one, our two lead copy desk editors, our publisher and even ESPN.com’s editor-in-chief. All of them were blown away by the piece. Everyone thought we should run it. Ultimately, it was my call. So if you want to rip anyone involved in this process, please, direct your anger and your invective at me. Don’t blame Caleb or anyone that works for me. It’s my site and anything this significant is my call. Blame me. I didn’t ask the biggest and most important question before we ran it — that’s my fault and only my fault.

So it was run past more than a dozen editors at Grantland, and none of them had a problem with the fact that it was all about othering a trans woman, a woman who killed herself over the story? Wow. Grantland really sucks.

He’s also still making excuses for Caleb Hannan.

As for Caleb, I continue to be disappointed that we failed him. It’s our responsibility to motivate our writers, put them in a position to succeed, improve their pieces as much as we possibly can, and most of all protect them from coming off badly. We didn’t do that here. Seeing so many people direct their outrage at one of our writers, and not our website as a whole, was profoundly upsetting for us. Our writers don’t post their stories themselves. It’s a team effort. We all failed. And ultimately, I failed the most because it’s my site and it was my call.

That’s nice. Right. As he explains, Hannan was writing this long independent piece on a putter that didn’t gel for them until he added this twist that the designer was exposed as one of those weird trans people, making it supposedly compelling and interesting…to a large team of editors that didn’t include one member of the trans community. Yeah, Grantland has a big problem, but that doesn’t excuse Hannan at all.

I’ll also point out the assessment of the article by Boing Boing. The story wasn’t that good; it relied on bringing out a string of gotchas culminating in the big weird reveal of a dead trans woman.

Another thing: critics keep saying that Hannan’s article was great storytelling, hiding terrible ethics. No. It’s a lurid mess. It’s written and paced like a 90’s-era daytime TV thriller, copying the structural and sensational qualities of other works without caring for how and why they work.

As for me, I continue to be disappointed that Grantland failed Dr V.

Comments

  1. says

    To my mind, once Hannan discovered Dr. V was trans on top of lying about her lying about her CV, he shouldn’t have written the article at all. Once her background was exposed as fraud, it would only be a matter of time before someone found out her trans status and exposed that. It seems to me impossible to have written this article without an eventual end result that exposed her trans status if the educational and work history fraud were kept in.

  2. Jacob Schmidt says

    As for Caleb, I continue to be disappointed that we failed him.

    No, dumbass, Caleb failed Essay Anne Vanderbilt. Then, when the story also passed through a dozen other hands, you all failed her too. You failed the trans woman by violating her privacy for a cheap, sensationalist story, not the jackass writer who wrote that story.

  3. carlie says

    That apology talks about Caleb as if he’s 12 years old. Guy is an adult Bill thought was skilled enough that he hired him as a writer. Yes, the editor has culpability, but he needs to let Caleb stand and take his own flak too.

    There is a distinct difference between “this is a true thing” and “this is a true thing that needs to be broadcast to the world”. It’s not censorship, it’s deciding on a case-by-case basis whether the benefit to the information being out there is outweighed by the damage it would cause. It’s called “responsible journalism”. None of them practiced it.

  4. says

    If someone is perpetuating a fraud and publicly lying about their credentials to sell a product, yes. That’s absolutely something that can and should be exposed. They shouldn’t be protected from bilking the public because they are transgender. Being in a marginalized and persecuted group is not a get out of jail free card. It’s patronizing to imply otherwise.

    Their personal life and privacy should be protected and respected. Regardless of what they do or what we think about them, people have a right to their gender identity. Crossing that line is where these people screwed up. That is the issue. That is the line that absolutely shouldn’t have been crossed, but was. That is why we should all be livid.

  5. says

    @Jacob Schmidt

    You bring up a really good point. That the apology was all about Caleb and not Vanderbilt really shows how completely they don’t understand what they’ve done and who they failed.

  6. samihawkins says

    is that one of their writers, Christina Kahrl, seems to get it.

    Uh, I’m pretty sure she’s not one of their writers. She covers baseball for ESPN I think, but she isn’t actually on the Grantland staff. She mentions being separated by several layers of corporate hierarchy and how she didn’t know about the story till it’d been published.

    That apology talks about Caleb as if he’s 12 years old

    Yeah that annoyed me to, the whining that he’s a ‘young’ writer so that somehow excuses him. Since when is your early 30s considered young and naïve?

    As for the ‘apology’ in it’s entirety I’m going to post the only two facts that matter from it:

    THE ARTICLE WON’T BE REMOVED AND NEITHER CALEB HANNAN OR ANYONE ELSE WILL BE PUNISHED FOR IT IN ANY WAY

    That should tell you how remorseful, not in the fucking slightest, they actually are about driving a woman to suicide.

  7. samihawkins says

    What the… Why did I make that last bit in italics? Totally didn’t mean to do that. Well as long as I’m taking up space with another post I might do something constructive so here Caleb’s email:

    iamcaleb2@gmail.com

    I’ve already sent him a message reminding him that’s he’s a murderer and I wish hell existed for him. I urge you to do the same.

  8. samihawkins says

    Harassing Caleb into suicide wouldn’t be justice.

    And him not being punished in any way for driving a woman to suicide is?

  9. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @Ryan Cunningham #4

    Absolutely right. I believe it is in the public interest to reveal that someone is using fraudulent claims to sell a product, and you shouldn’t duck away from that just because the fraudster happens to be part of a minority group. Outing her as a trans woman against her wishes, however, was cruel, unnecessary, harmful, and not at all in the public interest. That story could have, and should have, been written in such a way as to reveal the fraud without revealing Dr. V’s status as a trans person. The issue here is Hannan focussed on what she was, rather than what she did.

  10. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @samihawkins

    No, neither of those things is justice. Now stop with the false dichotomies.

  11. doubtthat says

    @4 Ryan Cunningham

    f someone is perpetuating a fraud and publicly lying about their credentials to sell a product, yes. That’s absolutely something that can and should be exposed.

    I read the article when it was posted, and I was stunned. It was a mess, and either Grantland is being truthful in stating they had no idea it would be offensive – which means their idiots – or, well, the other option is worse.

    That being said, if everyone is in agreement that someone perpetuating a fraud against the public is a newsworthy story, the case of Dr. V presents this dilemma:

    Dr. V was clearly a con-artist or snake oil salesman. She changed her name in 2001 making it impossible to trace her history. Were there frauds prior to 2001? That’s a legitimate line of inquiry for an investigative reporter.

    Now, in this case, it doesn’t appear that the name change was at all relevant to the story. There was no evidence of prior fraud, nothing related to the golf club occurred prior to 2001, the entire issue of Dr. V’s identity was holy irrelevant (I thought the worst part of the article was the implication that identifying as a woman was a fraud or lie similar to the deception concerning her credentials).

    But this is a serious hypothetical question: if Dr. V had been prosecuted or arrested for fraudulent acts prior to the name change, how do you tell that story as a reporter while respecting her privacy?

  12. =8)-DX says

    Another thing: critics keep saying that Hannan’s article was great storytelling, hiding terrible ethics. No. It’s a lurid mess.

    It really wasn’t a very well written piece – I remember thinking how terribly distracting the pacing was, how clumsy the messed gendered pronouns were, how completely stupid the “reveal” felt – at the start I was interested in the science not the scientist and this article completely failed me (why didn’t the author take the golf club to some aerodynamics testing lab or some other scientist to measure how good it actually is? That would be worthwhile journalism), the latter half was horrific due to the completely unabashed and open violation of privacy and journalistic ethics. The article completely failed Essay Anne Vanderbilt.

  13. ledasmom says

    doubtthat @13:

    Dr. V was clearly a con-artist or snake oil salesman.

    I would question your description of her as “con-artist or snake oil salesman”; surely that turns on whether the putter worked as advertised, regardless of whether she had earned the degrees she claimed or not. Of course, a good bit of ability to putt appears to depend on being confident that one can putt, and if one believed that one’s putter was better than other putters because it was designed by a talented physicist, knowing that it had not been might very well damage one’s ability. The crucial point would be whether an expertise in physics could reasonably be expected, by the sort of person who might purchase the putter, to lead to expertise in golf-club design.

    But this is a serious hypothetical question: if Dr. V had been prosecuted or arrested for fraudulent acts prior to the name change, how do you tell that story as a reporter while respecting her privacy?

    I have no intentions of rereading the article again; my recollection is that she had not been, and therefore a more appropriate hypothetical would be “if somebody had been prosecuted”, etc. There is no need to insert her name into it.
    I expect that my answer to the revised hypothetical would be that it depended on the actual harm done, or the potential harm that could have been expected to occur, as a result of the previous fraud and the current one. That is, if a person were previously convicted of selling a useless or harmful remedy, and was once again in the business of selling remedies of doubtful utility, then it would be entirely appropriate to reveal that. I am having a very hard time understanding the possible harm from selling putters while not being a physicist. It seems to me at worst slightly reprehensible.
    That being said, if the person in question were a trans person, it would be incumbent upon the writer to bend over backwards not to reveal that fact nor hint about it in any way, no matter the harm that might have been done by the fraud. It is no part of a proper punishment for any fraud to expose a person in that way. And I reiterate that in the actual case in question I do not see that any actual harm was caused by Essay Anne Vanderbilt, while she was harmed considerably by Caleb Hannan and all the other people who should have put the brakes on the publication of his article.
    Note: In none of this am I speaking as a person with expertise in the legal aspect of fraud; I am speaking of the ethics of the matter as they appear to me only.

  14. hillaryrettig says

    >It’s written and paced like a 90′s-era daytime TV thriller

    Others have compared it to a bad melodramatic movie.

    I’m guessing there came a point where the author or Grantland got the idea that they might sell the story for big bucks to a movie or tv production company, with Hannan in the Susan Orleans (“Adaptation”) naif-writer role, and from that point on all was lost.

  15. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @milobloom #12

    Christina Kahrl is trans.

    Who? And why should I care? How is that relevant?

    @doubtthat #13

    But this is a serious hypothetical question: if Dr. V had been prosecuted or arrested for fraudulent acts prior to the name change, how do you tell that story as a reporter while respecting her privacy?

    You write that she has “committed crimes under a previous name”, and you seek her permission to reveal that she is trans. If permission is not given, you continue as before. If it is, you may reveal. That would be the route I would take were I a journalist in those circumstances.

  16. says

    @13 doubtthat

    “But this is a serious hypothetical question: if Dr. V had been prosecuted or arrested for fraudulent acts prior to the name change, how do you tell that story as a reporter while respecting her privacy?”

    Carefully, redacting specifics, etc. I agree that would be a difficult situation. Journalists constantly have to balance the public right to know with personal privacy. The bros at Grantland are still oblivious to the obvious ethical issue with their reporting. They never grappled with any serious moral quandaries. Journalists they are not.

  17. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    Thumper, Christina Kahrl is mentioned right at the top of PZ’s post. She wrote that article wherein she ‘seems to get it’. Though, that’s not ‘seems’ at all; she does get it. She’s an LGBTQ activist and advocates for the trans* community. The fact that she is trans* might be relevant to the story because of her perspective and because she also writes for Grantland.

    As for why you should care? That’s up to you.

    Of course, Kahrl’s status doesn’t change the fact that she ‘gets it’ and wouldn’t matter normally, except that the awful outing of a trans* woman who committed suicide probably strikes rather close to home for Karhl.

    I wonder how she will reconcile working for Grantland going forward and looking back?

  18. says

    @15 While you and I (and many of the people here) might be interested in the science of the club and think aerodynamic testing, engineering, and design would be interesting the fact of the matter is that Americans are so scientifically illiterate I assume that they simply AREN’T interested in these things. But scandal? Turning ESPN int TMZ? That shit sells. Which is exactly why the article took the turn it did.

    We can pretend this is an editorial lapse or a case of a clueless “young” journalist. But c’mon. They wanted to sell salacious and they are just covering their butts acting as though they didn’t deliberately choose this angle for the gossip mag mass appeal.

  19. sonofrojblake says

    They wanted to sell salacious, and by global standards, that very much does make them journalists. Mind you, I’m speaking from the UK, where standards of journalism include hacking the voicemail of a murdered child.

    I am having a very hard time understanding the possible harm from selling putters while not being a physicist.

    It’s not, as far as the journalist is concerned, about “harm”. It’s about lying, on principle. (See how I had to structure that so that I didn’t put the word “journalist” and the word “principle” in the same sentence? What? Oh… snap.)

    Outing was an outcome Dr. V could and perhaps should have predicted. A fun atheist saying is “people who don’t want their beliefs to be laughed at, shouldn’t have such funny beliefs”. One could reasonably paraphrase that in this case to “people who don’t want journalists to go digging into their background and identity, and making details of their background and identity public without their permission, shouldn’t publicly, actively misrepresent their identity and background for financial gain”.

  20. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    I wonder how she will reconcile working for Grantland going forward and looking back?

    She writes for ESPN, not Grantland (which, granted, is owned by ESPN, but seems to have editorial independence); her article for them was a one-off deal.

  21. says

    Outing was an outcome Dr. V could and perhaps should have predicted.

    Only because the general culture is so transphobic, not because it was reasonable. Whatever Dr. V may have done wrong, her gender had nothing to do with it and should never have been reported on.

    One could reasonably paraphrase that in this case to “people who don’t want journalists to go digging into their background and identity, and making details of their background and identity public without their permission, shouldn’t publicly, actively misrepresent their identity and background for financial gain”.

    Except that quickly leads to other problems. E.g. if a person obtains a legitimate degree and then transitions, they can’t ever use that degree for fear that some reporter will start asking questions. It could end up with a situation where trans people simply can’t afford to be successful, at all, in any field.

    It’s not as if we hold non-trans people to this standard. If a person commits a crime or misrepresents themselves, that doesn’t automatically mean that every aspect of their life is fair game. So, why should it be that way for trans people.

    I think we have to hold to a principle that unless it’s strictly relevant for the story, you don’t report it. Especially when it’s something with as much stigma as is currently the case for transgender issues.

  22. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    I still don’t buy that her credentials are fake. I think taking anything that man says as fact is absurd. He has no journalist integrity (or any at all really) and to just accept what he says he found out? Nope.

    He could have said there’s no record of degrees under her current name and investigated the science part of it. Afterall, if the science works or doesn’t, says far more.

    And fuck that editorial piece:

    Caleb reported a story about a public figure that slowly spun out of control.

    What a bunch of bullshit. If Dr. V is a public figure, that means fucking everyone is and what’s to stop them from running anyone’s “story”? Why, thank god I’m not at risk, otherwise they might post my identity, the photos from my abusive relationship and lead the bastard right to my doorstep again.

    why some people mistakenly focused their criticisms on the writer instead of Grantland as a whole.

    He outed her to an investor and the public, and we shouldn’t focus on him? Didn’t and still doesn’t show once of sympathy or regret about what he did. He is only make a token effort after he pushed someone to suicide and it blew up in his face. She said focus on the science, not the scientist. What did he do? Every step he took, he clearly said “fuck your boundaries, I don’t care”. Every goddamn day dudes make the same choice, from micro-aggression to sexual assault and it all adds up. Being a “journalist” is just this guy’s convenient excuse, just like the “oh, you had stuff on your shoulder”. It’s fucking terrifying, this society wide disrespect and too often leads to horrible result. He should have stopped.

    If that article is the result of so much time and effort by so many people at Grantland, then clearly he’s a shit writer and the editorial staff is worse at editing.

  23. sonofrojblake says

    Except that quickly leads to other problems. E.g. if a person obtains a legitimate degree and then transitions, they can’t ever use that degree for fear that some reporter will start asking questions.

    Slippery slope what-aboutery. The entire driver of the story was that non-legit nature of the qualifications.

    Dr. V. had the option of not misrepresenting her qualifications and background. If she’d been basically honest (and by that I don’t mean out and proud, I just mean not lied about the physicist thing), there’d have been absolutely no defensible reason for digging into her background, much less reporting on it.

    “Hey look, this person who’s selling something is trans*” is, I hope even the douche who cooked up this tragedy would agree, not a story. “Hey look, this person is lying about themselves to sell something, and oh, guess what, here’s another thing they’re keeping quiet about…” That’s tabloid journalism all over. If Dr. V turned out to have been a stripper or a Scientologist, you can bet that would have been in there.

  24. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @SonofRojBlake

    A fun atheist saying is “people who don’t want their beliefs to be laughed at, shouldn’t have such funny beliefs”. One could reasonably paraphrase that in this case to “people who don’t want journalists to go digging into their background and identity, and making details of their background and identity public without their permission, shouldn’t publicly, actively misrepresent their identity and background for financial gain”.

    This seems to be saying that being a trans woman and changing your name to more accurately reflect your gender is “misrepresenting your identity”. She misrepresented her credentials, not her identity.

  25. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Bill Simmons wrote:

    Before we officially decided to post Caleb’s piece, we tried to stick as many trained eyeballs on it as possible. Somewhere between 13 and 15 people read the piece in all, including every senior editor but one, our two lead copy desk editors, our publisher and even ESPN.com’s editor-in-chief. All of them were blown away by the piece. Everyone thought we should run it.

    Most people will not catch the problem here. And in a lot of ways, I cannot blame them. It is not a problem most have experienced and have a reason to know about. But it is likely that everyone of those trained eyeballs are attached to a cis person.

    For too many people, being trans is about the worst thing a person can be. You can see this in how trans people are used repeatedly for cheap and easy jokes. How people think that a person just all of a sudden decides they are the wrong gender. How being called trans is supposed to be an insult (Even the fucking liberals who love to pull out the “Mann Coulter” bullshit.) Trans people are regularly dismissed as subhuman.

    It is likely that all of those trained eyeballs are not at all sympathetic to trans people, even if they are not active in showing it off. It is likely that none of them read the line about the chill going down Hannan’s spine as a sign of Hannan’s disgust with Dr V. That they were not at all bothered with Hannan calling Dr V a “troubled man”. (Sorry, this is a classic denial of a person’s trans status. It fits into the claim “Just because you say you are a woman does not make it so.)

    As I said before, it is possible and likely that Dr V was committing fraud. But Hannan dropped even trying to prove this case when the story focused on Dr V’s status. That somehow Dr V’s status was proof enough that a crime was committed.

    Most trans people would have caught the disgust that was clearly written in that article. Most trans people could have pointed out the problems in using a horror story trope at the reveal. But most cis people share in the prejudice against trans people, they are blind to the problems in the very structure of the article.

    I will not go so far as accusing Caleb Hannan of murder, as others have done. Many trans people would not have committed suicide if in the same situation. But Hannan did show that same lack of regard of a person being trans. The same lack of regard that every other trans person faces.

  26. vaiyt says

    Outing was an outcome Dr. V could and perhaps should have predicted.

    Lower your head, hide in the closet, never raise your voice, and pray we don’t beat you to death.

  27. says

    It could end up with a situation where trans people simply can’t afford to be successful, at all, in any field.

    It has, and does, every single day, in our thousands.

    I didn’t take my postgraduate studies any further because I transitioned. I’ve avoided sending my writing to publishers because I don’t want to have to deal with that bullshit publicity if it gets out. I turned down an invitation to run for office for my political party, because of it. I turned down a job as executive director of a women’s shelter because of it. I don’t write my civil service exam to become a translator for my government because of it.

    Because I don’t want to die for being public.

    I know many, MANY other trans people who have the same story, or variations on it.

    And because the default assumption is that trans* people are inherently deceptive, just finding out that our names have changed is enough to make people think we’re being fraudulent.

    I won’t wish anything intentionally violent on Hannan, but if I heard he fell in front of a bus, I might just do a little jig.

  28. sonofrojblake says

    This seems to be saying …

    … but isn’t.

    I said “identity”. I didn’t specify “gender identity”. You did that. “Male” is part of my identity. So is “engineer”. I have credentials to prove the latter (and the former, come to think of it), but as far as I’m concerned, it’s almost as much a part of my identity as my gender. It’s not just what I do, it’s what I *am*. Hence my choice of words.

  29. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    No, seriously fuck Grantland. They just had to add in the part where she, by their reporting, tried to commit suicide before. Why?

    Because it fits with societies transphobic belief that trans* people are disturbed individuals, that they are just “fleeing” from themselves instead of actually trans* and need their head examined. It also helps because they can say “Well, she had problems before, it’s not our fault”. They still aren’t, in that editorial, taking any responsibility in their actions leading to her death. It’s shrugged off as “we don’t know what happened and will never know”. Oh, so you found out every step, every identity this person ever had enough to call them a fraud and exposing everything publicly, yet you don’t have a clue to as to what caused or lead to her death?

    Motherfucking convenient, that.

    They violated her boundaries, her privacy, outed her to someone around her, which I bet caused lots of problems (Why aren’t they reporting that? Too scared to take responsibility?), didn’t give a shit and then published it for the whole world to join in on the shame and trans* bashing. Having someone ask people around her questions on the subject is enough to cause panic and is harassing her. They brought in lawyers to cover their ass before publishing it and is simply trying to do PR now. I’m not buying it. They still don’t fucking get it.

  30. stevem says

    That mea culpa of Bill Simmons seems to have raised the art of the notpology to a new level. It sounds so much like an apology and taking responsibility for a serious error, that it fools everyone into believing he’s sorry for the damage it’s done. Instead it tacitly absolves everyone else involved from any blame or responsibility; does not describe what they missed or should have seen, nor why their paper was so harmful and possibly responsible for Dr. V’s suicide (amongst all her other issues). But that is what journalism is all about, right? Saying the worst things in the nicest way possible. There are *4* ways to lie, (1)~~~, (2)~~~, (3)”Statistics”, & (4)”Journalism”. ;-|

    Maybe the following should be in the “…Caleb” thread: What was the intended subject of Caleb’s article, anyway? Apparently it was supposed to criticize the putter. If so, report the performance of that putter with the same person using other putters. If Dr. V was claiming it was better because she had a PhD from MIT and Stealth Bomber design experience and those claims are fraudulent, point those out with evidence that she has no degree nor was ever part of the design team of the Stealth Bomber. But, just point those out as frivolous claims that should not influence your choice of putter, that whether true or not, the thing to consider only; is the performance of the putter itself. That her degrees and training may have helped her design it, but when you buy the putter, you’re buying the putter itself, not her history of training.
    Caleb (apparently) lost his way and got totally absorbed by the fraud issue; that “proof” she was a fraud was “obvious” ["spine chilling"] because she was only fraudulently a woman; born a man and altered into a woman to fool everybody, to use her man’s brain in a woman’s body to get people to pity her for being a woman, to buy her fraudulent product without questions. If Simmons wanted to absolve Caleb of any guilt, he could have added something similar; explaining exactly how Caleb got lost, emphasizing the wrong aspect of the story, etc. Instead, Simmons just says “We let him get away with it, blame me, blame only me.” With no explanation of exactly what we should blame him for: just publishing the story as is, with no editing at all (other than maybe grammar and spelling).

  31. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @sonofrojblake

    OK, that’s why I pointed it out. From what I know of you you’re not the sort of person to say something like that. So I’m pointing out that your phrasing can be, and indeed was, misconstrued in case you wanted to clarify.

  32. sonofrojblake says

    Lower your head, hide in the closet, never raise your voice, and pray we don’t beat you to death

    Or, y’know, just don’t claim to be something you’re not, and try to make money off of it, and if you do, pray we don’t tell people all about you.

    I repeat – if “Dr. V” had made no dishonest claims about her background or qualifications, there would have been no story there. If this gutter rat had turned in a story to his editor that summed up as “there’s this golf club for sale and look, the woman who’s selling it is trans!!!!1!!1!!”, I’d be prepared to bet folding money that the editor’s response would have been along the lines of “That’s it? Push off, there’s a good chap.”

    “Some people are trans*” is not news. Is it?

  33. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    36
    sonofrojblake

    Or, y’know, just don’t claim to be something you’re not, and try to make money off of it, and if you do, pray we don’t tell people all about you.

    I repeat – if “Dr. V” had made no dishonest claims about her background or qualifications, there would have been no story there. If this gutter rat had turned in a story to his editor that summed up as “there’s this golf club for sale and look, the woman who’s selling it is trans!!!!1!!1!!”, I’d be prepared to bet folding money that the editor’s response would have been along the lines of “That’s it? Push off, there’s a good chap.”

    “Some people are trans*” is not news. Is it?

    1. Why quotes around Dr.V?
    2. You clearly aren’t reading the same articles. The chill up the spine? The way the fact she was trans* was the entire story? Clearly, they cared only for and published a story about a golf club made by a trans* woman. That’s what they did.

  34. omnicrom says

    Or, y’know, just don’t claim to be something you’re not, and try to make money off of it, and if you do, pray we don’t tell people all about you.

    Except there’s evidence that Dr. K may well have been EXACTLY who she claimed to be. She offered to trade a Non-Disclosure Agreement about her transgenderism for complete credentials and school records. That Caleb Hannan chose to write about the CHILLING subject of transgenderism rather than about the golf club or the development of it tells you all you need to know about the evil that he perpetrated.

  35. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    sonofjrblake: So make a mistake, or even commit a fraud, and being outed as trans is just the price you have to expect to pay?

    You are willfully blind to how murderously dangerous it is to be a trans woman. People are telling you but you’re not taking it on board. You disturb me greatly. As in, I wouldn’t turn my back on you now that I know what you consider to be reasonable outcomes.

  36. NitricAcid says

    I’m not surprised that they didn’t run the story past any trans* people before publishing. It sounds like the kind of place where nobody working there would willingly admit to knowing any trans* people.

  37. hoku says

    I think the real problem here is simply that they didn’t realize it would still be wrong to out this person after her death. The secondary problem is that they never consulted someone familiar with the situation. If you read the apology, he clearly states that they never intended to publish that she was trans, and only made the decision to do so after her death. By that point the story had shifted from, “here’s a weird new golf club,” to “this weird golf club was made by somone who is lying about her credentials”, to “holy crap, this is a fascinating story about a troubled person who intersected with the sports world.” That last shift was made posthumously.

    The core of the situation is that if you have a secret that you desperatly want to keep hidden, don’t do anything to force people to start investigating. Keep your head down. The same problem faced by gays in the millitary under don’t ask don’t tell. I can’t fault the author for the fact that we’ve created a situation in the US where life for transgender folks is dangerous. The real shame is the Dr. V felt the need to hide who she was.

    1. Why quotes around Dr.V?
    2. You clearly aren’t reading the same articles. The chill up the spine? The way the fact she was trans* was the entire story? Clearly, they cared only for and published a story about a golf club made by a trans* woman. That’s what they did.

    I think the quotes are because “Dr. V.” is not her real name. She is neither a Doctor nor simply “V”.

    I honestly read the chill up the spine line as having been written from the point of view, “this weird story keeps getting weirder,” and only saw the alternate meaning after having heard of the controversy. I can only assume that the author and editor are telling the truth and that was how it was intended.

    THE ARTICLE WON’T BE REMOVED AND NEITHER CALEB HANNAN OR ANYONE ELSE WILL BE PUNISHED FOR IT IN ANY WAY

    The apology clearly, and I think correctly makes the point that the article is staying up because to do otherwise is dishonest. They published it, they need to live with it. Same principle this site uses for editing comments. They are choosing the best solution by leaving it, and tying it to their apology letter and their letter from an outside source. Admitting they screwed up, and instead of vanishing it, leaving it to acknowledge that fact.

    Everything from here out is written from my perspective as someone who’s brother killed himself while on the phone with me.

    I have a hard time reading the people who are blaming this writer for the suicide. Suicide is a very personal choice, that is unfathomable. It is morally and ethically wrong to assign blame to anyone other than the person who chose to kill themselves. They made that choice, not the writer.

    The author brought up the previous suicide attempt because it is relevant. A past suicide attempt is a good predictor of a future one. It also further illustrates the problem with saying that the author drove her to kill herself.

    Please don’t let the fact that this person wrote a terrible article blind you to the dangers of thinking else wise.

    With that in mind, I really really hope PZ will delete the authors personal email address from this thread. Having it here just encourages mob harassment.

  38. nich says

    The last part of the OP. THAT. Seriously, what was the fucking article about? He didn’t exactly expose her as a fraud. Dishonest maybe, but the club supposedly worked and her investor was happy. Call me a conspiracy nut, but it was the “OMG [shitty term used to describe trans*people that ends in Y]” angle that sold them on the article. Without it, what the hell did he have? An expose on an obscure piece of equipment used by players of a relatively obscure sport that…worked?

    Caleb: So, I was surfing the ol’ Youtube during a bout of insomnia and I came across an ad for this weird putter. I’m planning on writing about 8000 words on its inventor.

    Bill: Oh, so it doesn’t work then?

    Caleb: Oh no, its users seem to like it. But I kind of doubt the inventor’s credentials.

    Bill: So….you’re writing 8000 words on a Youtube advertiser with dubious credentials who invented a putter that actually works? And you’re employed here why exactly?

    Caleb: Inventor’s a [shitty term used to describe trans*people that ends in Y]?

    Bill: Holy shitballs! Stop the presses!

  39. hoku says

    @41 Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Yes, once you invite and force people to look into and question your identity, any secrets you have are coming out. Once it was public that she was a fraud, how long before someone else looked into her history and discovered that she was trans? When you have a secret that you are desperate to keep secret, you can’t do things that point people towards it.

    No one is saying that our climate of fear and hatred of trans people is reasonable. Quite the opposite. The real problem is that our society makes it so that she was so afraid of coming out.

  40. hoku says

    @ 44 nich

    They greenlighted the article before they knew a single thing was off about her identity.

  41. nich says

    I have a hard time reading the people who are blaming this writer for the suicide. Suicide is a very personal choice, that is unfathomable. It is morally and ethically wrong to assign blame to anyone other than the person who chose to kill themselves. They made that choice, not the writer.

    But he KNEW she had previously attempted suicide, right? Let’s say I know a co-worker previously attempted suicide. Let’s say I discover my co-worker is a trans*person. Knowing this person has previously attempted suicide, I still run to our biggest investor, out them to him, then corner them in a restroom and say “I just outed you to Bob, and tomorrow I’m outing you to the entire office in an office-all email and NOTHING you fucking say is going to stop me”. Trans*person then goes home and kills themself. You are seriously contending that I had NOTHING to do with that suicide?

    Oh, then I go to the office, learn this person killed themself and as a coup de grâce go ahead and hit send on that email anyway.

  42. says

    sonofrojblake
    If you’ve ever wondered why people think you’re an asshole a lot, this kind of thing is why.

    hoku #43

    this weird golf club was made by someone who is lying about her credentials

    Can you prove this? No one else has done so.

    She is neither a Doctor

    Can you confirm this? There is no reason to believe Hannan’s assertions on this point, especially as it has been pointed out several times already here and in the previous thread that she offered to provide confirmation of her credentials. Referring to someone by their title and initial does not typically call for scarequotes.

    I can only assume that the author and editor are telling the truth and that was how it was intended.

    For reasons that have been previously stated in this discussion, covering their asses is a much more likely explanation.

  43. hoku says

    @ 48 Dalillama

    Yes I can prove it. There was no evidence that those degrees existed in either form of her name. At that point it’s her burden to show that she does have evidence.

  44. nich says

    They greenlighted the article before they knew a single thing was off about her identity.

    Not buying it. And even then, the trans* angle was completely unnecessary to the story.

  45. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Yes I can prove it. There was no evidence that those degrees existed in either form of her name. At that point it’s her burden to show that she does have evidence.

    But yet, this this information was not verified one way or an other in the article. Almost as if that was an afterthought once Dr V trans status was revealed. As if that was all the proof that was needed.

  46. hoku says

    @ nich

    It’s a sport site. They write about sports. They agreed to write an article about a strange new sports tool. What’s hard to believe about that? The identity angle came up when they were checking her credentials during the investigation into the putter.

  47. nich says

    It is morally and ethically wrong to assign blame to anyone other than the person who chose to kill themselves.

    This is actually kind of pissing me off. So a rape victim who is harassed by an entire town only has herself to blame? A gay teen bullied for years on end by family and schoolmates only has himself to blame? Trans*people outed in a very public way have only themselves to blame? They should have just sucked it up, huh? I am morally and ethically wrong for laying some blame at the feet of bullies and rapists? Fuck you buddy.

  48. Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts says

    She writes for ESPN, not Grantland (which, granted, is owned by ESPN, but seems to have editorial independence); her article for them was a one-off deal.

    Oh. Okay, thanks.

  49. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Captaintripps,

    To my mind, once Hannan discovered Dr. V was trans on top of lying about her lying about her CV, he shouldn’t have written the article at all. Once her background was exposed as fraud, it would only be a matter of time before someone found out her trans status and exposed that. It seems to me impossible to have written this article without an eventual end result that exposed her trans status if the educational and work history fraud were kept in.

    Agreed.

  50. NitricAcid says

    He could have easily written the article about the strange putter, produced by such and such a company, designed by a physicist, and then not said a word about any qualifications or backstory that he didn’t believe.

  51. hoku says

    Strangely, I think the actual story is more intriguing than what she came up with. Putter designed by a female mechanic working in a shop turns out better than the conventional approach championed by the physicists and engineers? It’s like every quack’s dream, but real.

  52. patrickspens says

    @48 Dalillama

    Can you prove this? No one else has done so.

    Serious question, Have you read the article? It is a matter of public record that she was employed as an auto mechanic in Arizona at the time she claimed she was working on top secret projects at the DOD.
    There is no record of her graduating from any of the institutions she claimed to have graduated from under either of the names she is known to have used, and there is no indications that she used another one for any length of time (she changed her name directly from Stephen Krol to Essay Anne Vanderbilt).

    Even if you don’t trust Hannan at all, much of the life story he reconstructed was a matter of public record. Dr. V was party of numerous lawsuits and was married twice. Do you think he was lying about that? Do you think that if he was, none of the people angry at him wouldn’t have been able to find that out?

    As an aside, for anyone who hasn’t read the original article: Hannan did report on it’s testing and by all accounts it works pretty well. Balls putted with it are smoother and have less sidespin then those hit by other putters.

  53. says

    Regarding the editor’s op-ed: It’s rather strikingly clear that he has no realization that his magazine killed a woman for ratings to their dead-end golf blog. Their concern is still protecting their little boy’s club than taking any real responsibility or even really accepting the reality of their dark deeds.

    And it’s kinda extra insulting to see them whine about poor little Caleb as Dr. V’s family are forced to bury her over their irresponsible bullshit.

    And the “we published a trans* person criticizing us for being assholes, so we don’t actually have to become less assholish crap just stinks of Penny Arcade’s bullshit following Mike Krahulik’s transphobic spree.

    More about dodging blame than actually improving anything.

    sonofrojblake @22

    Outing was an outcome Dr. V could and perhaps should have predicted. A fun atheist saying is “people who don’t want their beliefs to be laughed at, shouldn’t have such funny beliefs”. One could reasonably paraphrase that in this case to “people who don’t want journalists to go digging into their background and identity, and making details of their background and identity public without their permission, shouldn’t publicly, actively misrepresent their identity and background for financial gain”.

    It is very worth noting here that for years the “proper” path for trans* people was to suffer through a transition, and then restart your entire life somewhere as someone who passed as a cis person with no mention ever made to your trans status. In many ways, that is still the official recommendation handed down to trans* people and how our medical roadblocks are still structured (and why only those who “pass” well without hormones are considered “real” enough to be believed.

    It is only very recently that trans* activists have begun pushing back against that bullshit and have been being publicly out even “after” transition and fought back against this notion of disappearing in favor of a model based more on solidarity and building global community.

    The point of this is that for many trans* people, the official narrative and recommendation was to invent a fictional past so that your status wouldn’t be revealed (this advice often existing as a “for the protection of the trans person” thing citing the high number of “discovered” trans* people who are killed). The better the fictionalized past, the more protected.

    So that argument of “lie about your past, deserve to get outted” would apply to a disturbingly high number of trans* people and I have little doubt that the prevalence of that exact attitude was a large part of why Caleb and the editorial staff felt justified pursuing it.

    Yes, all of this reveals just what a sack of shit that advice was, seeing as how it only serves to support transphobic beliefs about trans* people rather than serve them in any way, but it’s worth noting that that has been “the path” for a long time now.

  54. Sassafras says

    At that point it’s her burden to show that she does have evidence.

    You mean like how she tried to do exactly that but Hannan wouldn’t accept because she asked for an NDA?

  55. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    There was no evidence that those degrees existed in either form of her name. At that point it’s her burden to show that she does have evidence.

    Evidently you are blind to the point where the evidence was available and would be provided with an NDA in place. That tells me something, but then, I’m not trying to justify over skepticism or bigotry.

  56. says

    Addendum to self @59

    Adding on that “the path” is heavily enforced. Those who are out end up getting a mountain of shit. If they are not lucky enough to be already rich and established and in a “safe field” like the arts or academia, then they face a huge amount of discrimination, financial terrorism, death threats, and so on.

    Even for those with those benefits, they are often forced to throw away a shit-ton of opportunities and face a lot of casual discrimination for being who they are.

    And for many that spells literal doom. I recently got extremely close to being homeless on the streets because I wanted to be out in all aspects of my life and thought I would be protected by the law being on my side. Like many who have tried to be out, I’ve been bullied back into closets,

    Because society feels justified in enforcing “the path” and punishing all those who stray. And that makes incidents like this a form of terrorism against the entire community.

    Like CaitieCat @31 noted, things like this serve as a grim reminder to trans* people to never get too public, never be too notable, never reach for opportunities you could have safely accepted if you were cis, and most of all to accept the minimum amount of effort from the world as some grand favor to you.

    And that sucks more than words can adequately cover.

  57. stevem says

    hoku,
    Regardless of the truth of fraudulent nature of Dr. V’s claim to degrees et al, how important is it to the review of the club? Assuming she was boldly lying about those credentials, do they make the putter perform less well than advertised? Hypothetically, replace the trans*phobia with racism. Would you be equally supportive of Caleb if xe said xe was “spine chilled to discover that V was black.”? What difference does it make if V was trans*, female, male, white, black, a Martian, young, old, Down Syndrome, Autistic, Schizophrenic, Psychotic, etc.? Caleb was attacking V; with the conveenient cover of reviewing the putter. Attack the fraudulent claims of the Youtube video, state V is making fraudulent claims, but review the putter impartially, debunk the claims with the putter’s actual performance. Including all the facts about V is pointless and just pads the word count of the article to entirely probable detrimental (horrific) consequences.

  58. patrickspens says

    Sassafrass@60

    You mean like how she tried to do exactly that but Hannan wouldn’t accept because she asked for an NDA?

    The NDA would have covered any revelations about her past, including the contents of whatever documents she was willing to show him. Even if he had no intention of revealing that she was transgender, signing it would have made the story impossible.

  59. gwangung says

    Strangely, I think the actual story is more intriguing than what she came up with. Putter designed by a female mechanic working in a shop turns out better than the conventional approach championed by the physicists and engineers? It’s like every quack’s dream, but real.

    Doesn’t that highlight the transphobia from Grantland even more, though?

  60. says

    @sonofrojblake
    Are you seriously proposing the standard that if a person has lied about their credentials, then any aspect of their personal life is fair game?

    If not, what’s your point? I’m not arguing that the credentials themselves couldn’t be reported upon, only that her gender identity should be left out of it.

    If she’d been basically honest … there’d have been absolutely no defensible reason for digging into her background, much less reporting on it.

    I’d say that there still wasn’t any defensible reason to report on it.

    I repeat – if “Dr. V” had made no dishonest claims about her background or qualifications, there would have been no story there.

    Really? So if she had obtained her degree under her former name, the reporter would magically never have thought to check whether she had a degree at all? Or alternatively, if he found that the degree was real, but under a differently gendered name, he wouldn’t have reported it?

    Are you sure about that?

    “Some people are trans*” is not news. Is it?

    “This person, who is a big deal in this small field, is trans” might be. After all, if the “news” was that she was dishonest about her credentials, then why are we even having this discussion? Why do we know about this?

    We know about it because somebody thought that it was news. Or at least enough to sell a few copies.

    @omnicrom

    She offered to trade a Non-Disclosure Agreement about her transgenderism for complete credentials and school records.

    There’s some lack of clarity about what exactly the NDA would have covered. However, if the proposed NDA went beyond what the reporter could agree to, the reasonable response would be “no, but I’ll agree to…”
    I see no indication that Hannan did that or consulted a lawyer at all about the subject.

    @hoku

    They greenlighted the article before they knew a single thing was off about her identity.

    Not entirely correct. They greenlighted investigating the subject, but:

    We had no plans to run the piece at that point [after the suicide, i.e. after the investigation was over and done with], but we decided to wait a week or two before we officially decided what to do. When that period passed, Caleb decided to write another draft that incorporated everything that happened. A few more weeks passed, and after reading his latest draft after Thanksgiving, we seriously considered the possibility of running the piece.

    The article wasn’t seriously considered until it was in its present form. With the transgender revelation.

    Let me just repeat that: The article, with all the substantial information about possible fraud and lies about credentials, was put on the shelf; considered not ready to publish. It wasn’t until the article outed the subject that it was considered ready for publication. As stated by the editor-in-chief.

  61. hoku says

    @ 62

    It also serves as a strong reminder the other way. It shows how much we really need strong, successful, openly trans*people to stand out. Right now, what’s the closest thing to a trans Ellen? People need to see that it’s possible to be successful and happy openly. If Vanderbilt had not killed herself, and the product had flourished, she might have had the chance to be that person, and help someone else.

  62. hoku says

    @ 66

    We had no plans to run the piece at that point [after the suicide, i.e. after the investigation was over and done with], but we decided to wait a week or two before we officially decided what to do. When that period passed, Caleb decided to write another draft that incorporated everything that happened. A few more weeks passed, and after reading his latest draft after Thanksgiving, we seriously considered the possibility of running the piece.

    The article wasn’t seriously considered until it was in its present form. With the transgender revelation.

    Let me just repeat that: The article, with all the substantial information about possible fraud and lies about credentials, was put on the shelf; considered not ready to publish. It wasn’t until the article outed the subject that it was considered ready for publication. As stated by the editor-in-chief.

    I read that as, “after the suicide, we reconsidered and decided not to publish in its current form.” As in, after they learned about the trans angle, they had no idea what to do with the story. Then she killed herself, and they mistakenly thought it would be ok to out her posthumously.

  63. nich says

    hoku@67

    Right now, what’s the closest thing to a trans Ellen? People need to see that it’s possible to be successful and happy openly. If Vanderbilt had not killed herself, and the product had flourished, she might have had the chance to be that person, and help someone else.

    The trans Ellen? Are you fucking kidding me?

  64. says

    hoku @43

    I have issues with a lot of what you wrote, but I’ll limit my comments to just one thing.

    And that is, the role transphobic discrimination, bullying, and violence plays on suicide rates. The suicide rate for trans* people is at obscene levels, at least a third of the population with well more than half attempting at one time or another.

    They are not doing that because they are “weak” or because there is something inherently wrong with them because of mental illness, but because the extra stress of being transgendered in a world this hostile increases the point of stress past whatever coping resources the trans* person has.

    I have struggled with suicidal ideation in my past, I’ve made no secret of that, but the resurgence of that struggle was directly related to receiving an epic level of stress caused by assholes thinking that my trans* status was something to be removed and excised by any means necessary.

    We are not too fucking crazy to live, we are too fucking abused.

    And it needs to stop.

  65. hoku says

    @ 69 nich

    Just in the sense that she was open, very successful, and accepted.

    It’s really on the community at large, not just the trans community, to make that happen. To show that being open isn’t a barrier to success.

  66. says

    The NDA would have covered any revelations about her past, including the contents of whatever documents she was willing to show him.

    Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. Hannan wasn’t exactly a paragon of clarity on that point and it seems to me he never even got to the point of reading an actual agreement. The totality of the information we have on that point is:

    Once I saw the documents I would have to sign a nondisclosure agreement barring me from revealing any of the details I’d learned about Dr. V’s past.

    What exactly does “details I’d learned about Dr. V’s past” cover? I don’t know. I’ll happily bet whatever I have in my pocket that you don’t either. None of us do. I’m not even sure Hannan does.

    Let’s try not to make too many assumptions. I say that admitting that, at first, I jumped to some conclusions of my own. My current position is that there’s not enough information to be sure what the NDA actually covered.

  67. says

    hoku @49

    Newsflash, trans* people don’t always just have two names in their lives. I personally know trans* people who have published works under names they no longer go by that were also not their given name. Who have earned qualifications under names they no longer go by that were also not their given name. I, myself, have had about 4 names, not because of any indecision, but because it is the only way to protect a future professional designation from my commitment to at least being out as I can be online if I can’t in my current professional life.

    It’s not exactly uncommon that someone would earn a qualification by a name other than their given name or the name they currently go by, especially if one has faced discrimination or other abuse in their past.

  68. hoku says

    @ 70 Cerberus

    I agree entirely with your sentiment that the problem is with people who bully and harass. There is no question that there is frequently horrific treatment of trans*people which has incredibly deleterious effects. I blame society as a whole for allowing this. Where I have a problem is with blaming a single person. The only way I could do that is if it was a massive effort, over a course of years.

    @ 73 Cerberus

    I would love Lana Wachowski to be more outspoken. She really has achieved, but mostly from the background as a director.

    It will be interesting to watch the career of Laverne Cox. I don’t watch the show, but I hope to see her career takeoff.

  69. hoku says

    @ 74 Cerberus

    I’m not saying she didn’t. I’m just saying there’s no evidence she did.

  70. says

    I read that as, “after the suicide, we reconsidered and decided not to publish in its current form.” As in, after they learned about the trans angle, they had no idea what to do with the story. Then she killed herself, and…

    No, read the op-ed. The quote I gave was after they knew she had killed herself. They knew all the facts, they knew she was transgendered and they knew she had committed suicide. At that point, they had no plans to publish.

    Then Hannan submitted the present version and they changed their minds. That’s what the editor-in-chief said.

    If Vanderbilt had not killed herself, and the product had flourished, she might have had the chance to be that person, and help someone else.

    Or she might have been killed.

  71. milobloom says

    @67 hoku—

    How about Christina Kahrl? She’s successful and happy, and certainly well-respected within the sabermetric community.

  72. doubtthat says

    Let me just repeat that: The article, with all the substantial information about possible fraud and lies about credentials, was put on the shelf; considered not ready to publish. It wasn’t until the article outed the subject that it was considered ready for publication. As stated by the editor-in-chief.

    It wasn’t until the article contained all of the information about the subject’s death that they considered publishing it. There was no way to tell that story without mentioning the suicide as some explanation for those curious about the subject of the piece.

    I am definitely sympathetic to the position that the piece wasn’t newsworthy enough to justify running it given Dr. V’s suicide, but it’s fairly uncharitable to read that apology as stating that the story only became worth running when they had a chance to out Dr. V.

  73. patrickspens says

    @LykeX

    What exactly does “details I’d learned about Dr. V’s past” cover? I don’t know. I’ll happily bet whatever I have in my pocket that you don’t either. None of us do. I’m not even sure Hannan does.

    Let’s try not to make too many assumptions. I say that admitting that, at first, I jumped to some conclusions of my own. My current position is that there’s not enough information to be sure what the NDA actually covered.

    With all due respect it’s not “details I’d learned about Dr. V’s past” it’s “any details I’d learned about Dr. V’s past”, as in all of them. Again, while Dr. V’s privacy never should have been invaded, and they never should have outed her, she provably lied about her qualifications and work history. There is no reason to give her the benefit of the doubt about her educational history.

  74. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    80
    patrickspens

    With all due respect it’s not “details I’d learned about Dr. V’s past” it’s “any details I’d learned about Dr. V’s past”, as in all of them.

    Given his lack of integrity and utter lack of writing skills, I’m not inclined to give him a pass because of that one word. It could have easily been “any details I’d learned about Dr. V’s past from the meeting and paperwork she showed me .

    There is no reason to give her the benefit of the doubt about her educational history.

    Why being she’s a lying, lying trans*?

    The hassle, harassment and hiding for safety they have to do is all the more reason to respect privacy, boundaries and give benefit of the doubt.

  75. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    she provably lied about her qualifications and work history. There is no reason to give her the benefit of the doubt about her educational history.

    This is an unwarranted and unevidenced presupposition on your part.
    I work in an industry where nothing but vague statements about a project are mentioned until NDA/CDA is signed. Only then, are details seen. I see no reason to believe the data is available.

  76. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Dang, one of those days: last sentence #82 should read:

    I see no reason to believe the data is unavailable under the right circumstances, namely signing an NDA.

  77. says

    it’s “any details I’d learned about Dr. V’s past”, as in all of them

    That’s your interpretation. It’s not clear from the information we have. I don’t know exactly what was covered, nor do you. We’re drawing inferences from a very vague bit of information.

    I think it’s much more reasonable to admit that we just don’t know. I mean, really, do you think it’s very likely that Dr. V said “I’ll show evidence that I didn’t lie about X and in return you’ll sign an NDA to not disclose how I lied about Y and Z”?

    I think it’s quite likely (though, as I said, I don’t know) that Dr. V intended nondisclosure on the subject of her transition, and Hannan was too fucking ignorant (a point which is a matter of record) to know the difference between that area of her past and her past in general, and why that was a relevant distinction.

  78. patrickspens says

    Nerd @82

    This is an unwarranted and unevidenced presupposition on your part.

    It is a matter of public record that she was employed in Arizona as a mechanic at the same time she claimed to be working for the DOD in Washington DC. Even if her claims about where she graduated from are true, (and they almost certainly are not) she lied about her work history and qualifications.

  79. carlie says

    And the fact that she faked her credentials in order to help sell a golf club is important enough to ruin her life and drive her to suicide why now?

  80. gwangung says

    I think it’s quite likely (though, as I said, I don’t know) that Dr. V intended nondisclosure on the subject of her transition, and Hannan was too fucking ignorant (a point which is a matter of record) to know the difference between that area of her past and her past in general, and why that was a relevant distinction.

    That fits the facts that are out there as well as anything else. And because of his ignorance, he didn’t know the possibility of other names, the very real possibility of harassment and the certain psychological damage from his actions.

    From what I can tell, he took this pretty lightly at first, and it’s still not clear he realizes the magnittude of what he did—it’s certainly clear Hannan pretty much shrugged off her suicide in the beginning. That says little positive about his journalistic ethics.

  81. says

    carlie, you must have missed the part where she was trans. Obviously, by lying about her past – as she was required to do, by the rules of transition as set by cis people – she made herself fair game for any kind of outcome. If she didn’t want to suicide, then obviously she should have not transitioned, because that totally doesn’t lead to suicide all the time.

    Yep, clearly blameless, nothing to see here.

  82. says

    I’ma’ stay right out of virtually all of this, because I know enough about what I don’t know to know I’m liable to stub my toe. But there is one tiny corner of this conversation that I have some insight into, and which hasn’t been much mentioned yet:

    I’ve had occasion, in my past, to know people who’ve worked on classified high-tech programs. Virtually none of them brag about their work, or use it as a reference for anything, in the outside world. And those who do so are by definition untrustworthy, since fairly comprehesively restrictive lifelong nondisclosure is one of the things they’ve been entrusted to abide by.

    I can only imagine that Dr. V thought a claim of classified work would be a good cover story for the fact that her name utterly disappears from the public record at some point in her history; tragically, that story is in fact a giant red flag for exactly the opposite: People who do classified work have perfectly ordinary public records (addresses, employment, memberships, kids in school, etc.). If you think about it, it would have to be so, because any suspicious blank spots would make it trivially easy for spies to identify their targets.

    Now, in addition, this was never intended to be a simple product review. Instead, it was supposed to be a feature about a club that claimed to be a revolutionary advance based on highly advanced science (and whose inventor belittled all predecessors as prescientific). That claim led directly back to the twin claims of a physics degree and exposure to classified aerospace technology… the latter of which was suspect on its face, to begin with, and both of which seem to be, based on the best evidence available, false. (“I’ll show you my proof if you promise not to report anything about it” is a deal that I think would be a nonstarter for any reporter on any story, quite regardless of the gender identity issue, and in any case, the offer itself isn’t evidence of anything.)

    Sadly, the manner in which she talked about classified work strongly suggested that she didn’t actually know anything about classified work, which made what seems to have been her cover story appear false on its face. And the claims she made for her product were directly related to that cover story, which means it was inevitable that any reporter writing about the product would look into it. Regardless of anything else, that bit was inevitably going to blow up on her.

  83. nich says

    @89

    I’ve had occasion, in my past, to know people who’ve worked on classified high-tech programs.

    I’ve also known many of those people and a lot of them were totally willing to talks mountains of shit about what they did if you were the right person. Say an attractive girl in a bar, or a reporter basically affiliated with the World Wide Leader in Sports?

  84. vaiyt says

    @Bill Dauphin

    And the fact that she faked her credentials in order to help sell a golf club is important enough to ruin her life and drive her to suicide why now?

  85. patrickspens says

    LykeX @ 84

    I think it’s quite likely (though, as I said, I don’t know) that Dr. V intended nondisclosure on the subject of her transition, and Hannan was too fucking ignorant (a point which is a matter of record) to know the difference between that area of her past and her past in general, and why that was a relevant distinction.

    When Hannan refused to sign the NDA, she asked him if he was “trying to destroy yar?”, not trying to destroy her. And I find it implausible that neither Dr. V nor Jordan could make the distinction between outing her as transgender and reporting on her credentials clear.

    Carlie @86

    And the fact that she faked her credentials in order to help sell a golf club is important enough to ruin her life and drive her to suicide why now?

    Her faking credentials (and getting a professional golfer to either believe her or join in on the fake) is worth reporting on yes. It wouldn’t be worth reporting on if you knew she was going to commit suicide, but it isn’t as though Hannan could have known that when he started reporting the story, and it isn’t clear whether he was even planning on reporting anything when she committed suicide.

    That said, outing her to her investor was clearly wrong and never should have happened.

  86. says

    And I find it implausible that neither Dr. V nor Jordan could make the distinction between outing her as transgender and reporting on her credentials clear.

    I don’t think this is a matter of them making the distinction, but Hanna understanding the distinction. The article seemed to conflate the issue of credentials with the issue of gender identity, considering them both a matter of misrepresentation. I take that as evidence for how Hannan thinks on this subject and that speaks to the reliability of his reporting.

    Also, I don’t think it’s wise to rely too much on precise wording on this. Dr. V apparently had a tendency to ramble a bit, and Hannan had a tendency to not see what was right in front of his fucking face. I’m not convinced that the conversation was reported accurately enough to analyze, word for word.

    If you do want to analyze it word for word, then you’ll also have to deal with such thing as this:

    Once I saw the documents I would have to sign a nondisclosure agreement…

    “Once I saw”. Not “before I saw”.
    We can therefore conclude that Hannan would first have been shown the documents and then be asked to sign the agreement, giving him the chance to just refuse and walk out the door, with all the relevant information.

    Alternatively, we can agree that Hannan may not be the most careful communicator on the planet and we can take what he wrote with a grain of salt.

  87. patrickspens says

    “Once I saw”. Not “before I saw”.
    We can therefore conclude that Hannan would first have been shown the documents and then be asked to sign the agreement, giving him the chance to just refuse and walk out the door, with all the relevant information.

    Alternatively, we can agree that Hannan may not be the most careful communicator on the planet and we can take what he wrote with a grain of salt.

    Fair point.

  88. says

    nich @90:

    I’ve had occasion, in my past, to know people who’ve worked on classified high-tech programs.

    I’ve also known many of those people and a lot of them were totally willing to talks mountains of shit about what they did if you were the right person.

    No doubt, but in that case they were, as I said originally, untrustworthy BS artists by definition; either way, it’s a red flag.

    Someone who really had been involved in classified work might be willing to take the risk of getting caught in order to get laid or hang with the cool kids; it seems unlikely that someone with a literally deadly personal secret to hide who is talking to a reporter explicitly reporting on her own story would knowingly raise a red flag.

    Which strongly suggests she didn’t know it would be a red flag… because she wasn’t actually familiar with classified work. Not proof, of course, but strongly suggestive.

    vaiyt @91:

    You know that quote is not me, right? Assuming you mean to be using carlie’s words to ask me whether I believe the death penalty is appropriate for fraudulent sales practices, the answer is fucking obviously not! It’s not obvious to me that she was, in fact, driven to suicide specifically by this incident, but I also don’t have knowledge or evidence to conclude otherwise; I don’t (and didn’t) intend to argue the point.

    I absolutely get that she needed a cover story, and I don’t judge her for a second for having one. I just think it’s a tragic irony that the particular cover story she chose, combined with the specific nature of the claims she made for her product, inevitably led to the disclosure of the very secret she so desperately wanted to hide.

  89. gwangung says

    #92
    It wouldn’t be worth reporting on if you knew she was going to commit suicide, but it isn’t as though Hannan could have known that when he started reporting the story,

    Hm. Not so sure I’d stand very hard on this statement. It suggests a lack of clues about trans people.

  90. patrickspens says

    #97

    To be clear, I’m talking about at the beginning of the reporting process, before Hannan knew she was a transwoman.

  91. ChasCPeterson says

    That Hannan and his editors were completely clueless about trans* people is the one thing about this that’s not in dispute, even by the editor-in-chief.

  92. Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive] says

    I cannot claim to be particularly knowledgable about a lot of things.

    So if there’s a gap in my knowledge and I want to know more, I seek out an expert or at least a vouched-for howto.

    That Hannan et al failed to do is evidence of their arrogance.

  93. gwangung says

    To be clear, I’m talking about at the beginning of the reporting process, before Hannan knew she was a transwoman.

    Granted. It’s just seems unfortunate that Hannan retained his cluelessness throughout the process and it took application of a clue by four to get his editors, at least, to realize that they didn’t even realize how much they didn’t know.

  94. elem74 says

    I honestly think you’ll are casting the grantland apology in an unfairly harsh light. I’m not really contesting anyone’s summary of why the way they went about reporting this was wrong, but the apology raises and takes the blame for basically everything people have mentioned. For instance, someone raised earlier in the thread that Grantland may have had 15 people read the article, but the problem they don’t get is that all 15 eyeballs were probably cis.

    Grantland says that. Straight up. They say straight up that they obviously didn’t know, or think, about any of these issues. That that was entirely on them, and they obviously should have had someone who was trans review the article as well (for a start).

    That misstep never occurred to me until I discussed it with Christina Kahrl yesterday. But that speaks to our collective ignorance about the issues facing the transgender community in general, as well as our biggest mistake: not educating ourselves on that front before seriously considering whether to run the piece.

    and

    We made one massive mistake. I have thought about it for nearly three solid days, and I’ve run out of ways to kick myself about it. How did it never occur to any of us? How? How could we ALL blow it?

    That mistake: Someone familiar with the transgender community should have read Caleb’s final draft. This never occurred to us. Nobody ever brought it up. Had we asked someone, they probably would have told us the following things …

    1. You never mentioned that the transgender community has an abnormally high suicide rate. That’s a crucial piece — something that actually could have evolved into the third act and an entirely different ending. But you missed it completely.

    2. You need to make it more clear within the piece that Caleb never, at any point, threatened to out her as he was doing his reporting.

    3. You need to make it more clear that, before her death, you never internally discussed the possibility of outing her (and we didn’t).

    4. You botched your pronoun structure in a couple of spots, which could easily be fixed by using GLAAD’s style guide for handling transgender language.

    5. The phrase “chill ran down my spine” reads wrong. Either cut it or make it more clear what Caleb meant.

    6. Caleb never should have outed Dr. V to one of her investors; you need to address that mistake either within the piece, as a footnote, or in a separate piece entirely.

    and

    To my infinite regret, we never asked anyone knowledgeable enough about transgender issues to help us either (a) improve the piece, or (b) realize that we shouldn’t run it. That’s our mistake — and really, my mistake, since it’s my site. So I want to apologize. I failed.

    More importantly, I realized over the weekend that I didn’t know nearly enough about the transgender community – and neither does my staff. I read Caleb’s piece a certain way because of my own experiences in life. That’s not an acceptable excuse; it’s just what happened. And it’s what happened to Caleb, and everyone on my staff, and everyone who read/praised/shared that piece during that 56-hour stretch from Wednesday to Friday.

    Whether or not you think an apology is sufficient, or if you care, is one thing. But I don’t think you can claim they’re dodging the issue or don’t get where they went wrong. But I don’t think there is really any applicable criticism of Grantland’s after the fact handling of this. Plenty of criticism of WHAT THEY DID, and that they apologized shouldn’t get them out of that, but I just don’t know what else you expect them to have done afterwards.

  95. says

    Y’know what, elem74? I don’t buy it. At all.

    Here’s as good an explanation as I’ve seen of why. For people who know “nothing” about trans people, it’s funny how they managed to hit ALL the transphobic tropes so exactly, isn’t it?

    It’s bullshit. It’s, “Oh, we didn’t know the president would be upset by us drawing him as a monkey, or putting his name on pictures of fried chicken and watermelon! We’ve never encountered any of those tropes before, so we were just ignorant, please pity us for being ign’rant white people – hey, don’t hurt us, massa!”

    It’s the same fucking thing.

    And I’d bet you wouldn’t be on fucking threads trying to tell Black people who’d been offended/scared/harmed by this bullshit how totally innocent those poor white folks were, who just didn’t know anything about Black people and spoke out of ignorance. Because it would be obvious: they’re using all the racist tropes, the odds that they just happened to hit on them by accident – ALL of them – seem pretty fuckig slim.

    So many of you seem so, so desperate to find excuses for these assholes, to make it “not so bad”.

    Well, for me, it’s pretty fucking bad. A woman is DEAD. And there’s all kinds of people who want to come through and tell us how it was totally not the fault of the guy who outed her.

    Would it have been his fault if the investor he’d outed her to had killed her in the accepted trans*-panic style? “It came on to me officer, I had no choice but to put sixteen bullets in it to make sure it was dead!”

    For fucks’ sakes.

  96. says

    @elem74
    There are good aspects to the op-ed, but there are certainly also legitimate criticisms. One thing that got my goat is that despite admitting that they screwed up, they seem to take a distinctly water-under-the-bridge stance. E.g. the “if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing anything” bit, the general distancing from the fact that their screw-up very likely contributed to the death of a human being, and the failure to address the complete professional incompetence of everyone involved.

    They admit to their mistakes, but they do so in a manner that doesn’t really take any serious responsibility. I mean, aside from their vague assurances that they’ve learned a valuable lesson, what has changed? What are they actually going to do?

    These are (a) professional information gatherers who completely failed to gather the relevant background information, (b) before revealing private details about a dead person, (c) despite those details being unimportant for the actual story.

    This is a clusterfuck of fail and the fact that all these people still have a job is a sign that somebody isn’t taking this seriously.

  97. elem74 says

    That kind of response wasn’t what I was criticizing. You are saying any apology isn’t meaningful because the initial article was so incomprehensibly bad that they clearly were just bigoted. Its the earlier people complaining about how the apology was “incomplete” or just indicated they still were missing the problem that I was taking issue with. If there’s any apology possible, that was it. Maybe no apology’s possible.

    I also don’t understand people complaining about how “Grantland is protecting the writer”. You would prefer they claim it’s all the writers fault and it just slipped through the cracks? Whether or not you choose to shift your internal allocation of blame is one thing, but I find it refreshing that everyone involved who’s posted has basically said “I deserve the primary brunt of the blame”.

    The Simmons article wasn’t “We were ignorant, don’t blame us.” It was “We were ignorant, BLAME US, that was our fault, we suck”. Maybe I’m just more charitable, but after reading both the original article and the post-publishing commentary, I’m not entirely sure what to think of Caleb now, but Simmons really comes off to me as someone who genuinely didn’t know that what he was doing was wrong, fucked up, and now realizes it. And then admitted all that publicly when he honestly could probably have effectively diverted blame.

  98. ledasmom says

    elam74@106:

    Its the earlier people complaining about how the apology was “incomplete” or just indicated they still were missing the problem that I was taking issue with.

    You don’t think it’s a bit incomplete? They say he never threatened to out her – sounds like, despite assurances further on in the apology that they mean to learn more about transgender issues, they still don’t get that his behavior could very well have been taken by Dr. V as threatening to do just that. They are still seeing all of this from their point of view only. And there is this quote:
    “But even now, it’s hard for me to accept that Dr. V’s transgender status wasn’t part of this story.”
    Doesn’t sound like they’ve learned much yet.
    There is also the way they appear to be more concerned about having failed their writer than about a woman’s death.
    The whole tone of the thing reads to me as “Well, that’s too bad. But here’s all the reasons why this totally wasn’t our fault!” It is not only the bare words that are necessary to an apology, but an actual feeling of remorse as opposed to excuses.

  99. samihawkins says

    Grantland says that. Straight up. They say straight up that they obviously didn’t know, or think, about any of these issues.

    No. They lie through their teeth to try to cover up their bigotry. Rather than going through your whole post defending abunch of bigoted assholes who drove one of my transsisters to suicide, I’ll just state this simple observation:

    In Bill Simmons ‘sincere’ apology he at no point ever brings up the fact that the article he signed off on refers to a transwoman as a ‘troubled man’. That slur is still in the article, you can look it up yourself. He tries to lie about the ‘chill up my spine’ line and claim it’s about ‘wow a shocking discovery’ and not what we all know it really means, ‘Ew it’s a tranny!’, but tellingly he never ever addresses the ‘troubled man’ line in any way. Why? Because he knows damn well he can’t think of an excuse for why that line was included and he can’t admit the actual reason, that him, Caleb Hannan, and everyone else involved with publishing it were and still are transphpobic bigots who consider us to be nothing more than ‘troubled men’.

    I find it refreshing that everyone involved who’s posted has basically said “I deserve the primary brunt of the blame”.

    BULL. SHIT. They aren’t taking any blame at all. How do I know? Because actual blame isn’t just saying “I take the blame”. It’s actually be willing to take the punishment. You know, punishment, that thing neither Caleb Hannan nor the editors who approved his exploitive article have faced or will face in any way?

    But hey they put on a pair of puppy dog eyes and said they were super-doper-sorry, which is apparently all it takes for you and countless other cis people to forgive a little thing like killing some icky transwomen.

  100. says

    The Simmons article wasn’t “We were ignorant, don’t blame us.” It was “We were ignorant, BLAME US, that was our fault, we suck”

    “But, you know, don’t actually expect us to do anything. Just blame us in a vague, abstract sort of way that has no real-life consequences for any of us.”

  101. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    On the apology front, I have to give Simmons kudos for holding his hands up and saying “this is my bad, I should have caught that, and I shouldn’t have published it”. He seems to understand that he and his staff are woefully ignorant of trans issues and should have run it past a trans person or at least someone who understands the issues. Good. He appears to be trying to grok it, but he hasn’t managed it yet. The fact he doesn’t address the “troubled man” line, as pointed out by samihawkins, indicates to me that he doesn’t see that line as problematic, when it clearly is. His attitude towards the “chill up my spine” line is bad too. Maybe he’s actively trying to cover it up, maybe he’s bought a bulshit explanation fed him by Hannan, maybe he just didn’t see it as transphobic; I don’t know, but even given the most charitable explanation he should have seen the transphobic connotations.

    In short, I think he’s trying, but there are still serious issues he needs to address. Serious fucking issues.

  102. says

    Thumper
    It still reads like CYA to me, not any kind of sincerity. If someone involved had actually experienced some kind of consequences I might buy that they were sincerely looking at what they’d done wrong, and what kind of lessons they should be learning. If the apology had been accompanied by Hannan’s firing followed the resignation of the editor who claimed responsibility, then I’d be a little more inclined to buy that they seriously understand the magnitude of the problem here.

  103. Sassafras says

    They say he never threatened to out her – sounds like, despite assurances further on in the apology that they mean to learn more about transgender issues, they still don’t get that his behavior could very well have been taken by Dr. V as threatening to do just that.

    Worse still, it doesn’t even need to be based on her interpretation of their behavior. Hannan directly told her he was going to reveal what he found, and that includes her transition (That’s the whole reason she tried to get an NDA, because he said he was going to reveal everything). Simmons seems to think if Hannan didn’t specifically say “I’m going to tell everyone that you’re transgender!” that it doesn’t count as threatening to out her. Or more likely, he’s just using weasel words to get people repeating “They never threatened to out her!”

  104. gwangung says

    It still reads like CYA to me, not any kind of sincerity.

    Oh, I think he’s sincere. That’s the hell of it. He’s a straight white male who’s trying to understand and HE STILL DOESN’T GET IT.

    And my take is that he senses, on a far distant level, that he’s not getting it, but he’s in denial of it, which is where the CYA comes in.

  105. sonofrojblake says

    Back after a while to answer a few points:

    @JAL, 39: “Why quotes around Dr.V?”. Um… because it’s obviously a slightly hokey nickname, a pseudonym created for commercial purposes, like “The Science Guy” or “Dr. Demento”. It wasn’t her real name. Your question looks like a disingenuous attempt to imply I am in some way not accepting of her identity as Essay Anne Vanderbilt. Point to one valid example of something that actually demonstrates that, if you can.

    I am reading the same articles, and I agree they suck for precisely the reasons you state. However, I stand by my assertion that, absent “Dr. V’s” misrepresentation of her background and quals, there’d have been no “plot” to hang the story on, beyond the relatively dull “this weird club works” or “this weird club doesn’t work”.

    @ Josh, 41: “make a mistake, or even commit a fraud, and being outed as trans is just the price you have to expect to pay? ”

    First, this was not a “mistake”. This was a deliberate misrepresentation for commercial gain.
    Second, outing this woman was not a defensible thing for this journalist or their editor to do, and I absolutely deny that I ever said or implied that it was. What was, was a predictable thing for them to do, under the circumstances. That is all.

    @Cerberus, 59: “that argument of “lie about your past, deserve to get outted” would apply to a disturbingly high number of trans* people ”

    Except, in this case, “Dr. V” was not lying about her past for the legitimate purpose of maintaining her privacy. She was lying about her past for commercial gain. And I repeat, I don’t believe that means she deserved to get outed. I just think that getting outed was a predictable risk of that commercial decision.

    @Lyke, 66:

    Are you seriously proposing the standard that if a person has lied about their credentials, then any aspect of their personal life is fair game?

    I’m not “proposing the standard”. I’m observing the reality. People who have done nothing to deserve or invite it pretty regularly get their private lives turned out onto the street by scumbag tabloid journalists. Look at the media profile trajectory of Charles Ramsey. Other people actively invite scrutiny by selling themselves or something they’ve made and trying to get such journos to write about it. Often, even if they’re 100% honest, that doesn’t turn out as well as they expected. If they’re less than 100% honest, journos and the publications they work for have a field day, and anything is fair game.

    Ultimately, this story got published because it had a plot. It had a wacky new product, an inventor who’d lied about their background, the development that hey, they’re also trans*, and a resolution in their suicide. Absent any one of those things, it wouldn’t have worked.

  106. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    114
    sonofrojblake

    Um… because it’s obviously a slightly hokey nickname, a pseudonym created for commercial purposes, like “The Science Guy” or “Dr. Demento”. It wasn’t her real name. Your question looks like a disingenuous attempt to imply I am in some way not accepting of her identity as Essay Anne Vanderbilt. Point to one valid example of something that actually demonstrates that, if you can.

    Dr. V is short for Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt. Fine, believe with the transphobic asshole who outed her about the degrees but the V? It’s not in question. Putting quotes around it is in fact questioning her identity.

    Why don’t you be more consistant and put everyone’s nickname in quotes, since hey I’m not legally “JAL” or anything, asshole. And I bet you don’t think a lot of people’s nicknames here are legal.

    I am reading the same articles, and I agree they suck for precisely the reasons you state. However, I stand by my assertion that, absent “Dr. V’s” misrepresentation of her background and quals, there’d have been no “plot” to hang the story on, beyond the relatively dull “this weird club works” or “this weird club doesn’t work”.

    And they said sure, look into the putter as the premise in the first place. So why didn’t they run with that?
    Oh, just wait til the end. I’ll come back to this dumb shit.

    Except, in this case, “Dr. V” was not lying about her past for the legitimate purpose of maintaining her privacy. She was lying about her past for commercial gain. And I repeat, I don’t believe that means she deserved to get outed. I just think that getting outed was a predictable risk of that commercial decision.

    Are you stupid? Read CaitieCat’s #31. Now again. Say for instance she wanted to follow her career, which she has degrees in under another name. Congrats for her, she makes money and now you swoop in with “But there’s no evidence of her degrees under this name or this one other name, so she’s lying for monetary gain! She should have known!”

    That’s exactly what happened here for Dr.V

    What was, was a predictable thing for them to do, under the circumstances. That is all.

    Do you know why it was predicatble? Because society is transphobic.

    Other people actively invite scrutiny by selling themselves or something they’ve made and trying to get such journos to write about it. Often, even if they’re 100% honest, that doesn’t turn out as well as they expected. If they’re less than 100% honest, journos and the publications they work for have a field day, and anything is fair game.

    She didn’t invite scrutiny on herself though. She actively tried to stop that from happening. Apparently, you think it’s just fine and dandy trans* people are pressed to live under rocks in order to survive.

    Ultimately, this story got published because it had a plot. It had a wacky new product, an inventor who’d lied about their background, the development that hey, they’re also trans*, and a resolution in their suicide. Absent any one of those things, it wouldn’t have worked.

    No. Dr.V was a private person because they were trans*. She commited suicide, most likely, due to the transphobic society and this asshole reporter who outed her. If society wasn’t so transphobic, she could’ve been free to be out publicly with herself and her degrees.

    There is no story here if you take away the fact she was trans* trying to survive in a transphobic society with a transphobic asshole reporter who dug into her private life, refused to accept her personal boundaries and fucking outed her. That’s what this story boils down to.

    If they really just wanted a story on the putter, they couldn’t tested it and published a report.

    If they really just wanted a story about an inventor of a putter who is hiding things, they could have just published a story about her putter and not finding her degrees under her current name.

    No, instead they waited until she was dead, checked with their lawyers and posted a report outing a “troubled young man” as they put it.

  107. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    Oh, and to continue my last comment:

    They basked in the glory of their article for 48-72 hours in wonderful support of other transphobic assholes.

    They only did a weak ass apology after it blew up in their faces. The reporter faces no consequences for his actions, like say outing her to an investor, and is going on with his merry life. Nothing has happened or changed. Not even a donation or any fucking token.

    They still don’t change or apologize for the “troubled young man” comment. They still don’t get it.

    And here you are defending the predictable status quo of “She should have predicted this happened instead of risking herself lying for financial gain” shit.

    In short, go fuck yourself. For all of it.

  108. sonofrojblake says

    @”JAL”, if you like, 115.

    the V? It’s not in question

    Except “V” wasn’t her name, any more than “T” is “Mr. T”‘s name. I’ve not, at any stage questioned her identity, other than not bothering to type her name out in full but instead using the cute title SHE PICKED to work under and putting it in quotes. Take offense that if you absolutely must, but I do not question her identity and fuck you if you say I do.

    why didn’t they run with that?

    They considered it too dull. Editorial decision, and not even a particularly questionable one, at that stage.

    Read CaitieCat’s #31.

    Done that. Trans* person worries that their legit qualifications, gained under their previous name, may “out” them, so chooses not to pursue that education further, chooses not to do certain job, not to apply for certain positions. Shitty result of a transphobic society, that someone should think “fallout, including but not limited to violence, from just having others finding out I had another name is not worth it”.

    Yeah, that’s EXACTLY the same as a trans* person lying about what qualifications they’ve got, and lying about where they’ve worked, specifically in order to add credibility to a product they’re shilling for. Oh, no, hang on, it’s not, because Caitie never lied about her qualifications, never actively claimed to have worked somewhere she hadn’t to add credibility to herself. Those two things are really similar AT ALL, unless you’re calling Caitie a fraud.

    Do you know why it was predicatble? Because society is transphobic.

    Congratulations. That was my point. You know that. I know that. Are you suggesting Essay Anne Vanderbilt did not know that?

    Apparently, you think it’s just fine and dandy trans* people are pressed to live under rocks in order to survive.

    No. I think it is predictable that if anyone, cis or trans*, actively lies about their quals and work history to a journalist when they’re trying to sell them something, then they’ll get more scrutiny. If you don’t want scrutiny, then either (a) avoid journalists, or (b) if your choice of career makes it unavoidable, tell them the truth.

    she could’ve been free to be out publicly with herself and her degrees.

    She was free to not lie about where she’d worked or her specific degree background. She chose to lie. Those lies were not relevant to her trans* status, but they were relevant to boosting the credibility of her product. And the discovery of those lies led down the road to the rest, but were the starting point. The rest was shitty behaviour by the journo and the editor and all the rest. But the shitty behaviour had a starting point, and it wasn’t the journo.

    And there I am leaving it.