[blockquote source=”Grantland”]Finally it hit me. Cliché or not, a chill actually ran up my spine.
“Are you trying to tell me that Essay Anne Vanderbilt was once a man?”[/blockquote]
[blockquote source=”Grantland”]Even now, it’s hard for me to accept that Dr. V’s transgender status wasn’t part of this story.[/blockquote]
[blockquote source=”Grantland”]Let’s start off with acknowledging that, while I did not know her personally, apparently Essay Anne was a transgender woman in deep stealth, a term that means she did not want to be identified as transgender publicly, and probably not on any level personally. Stealth is tough to maintain, and generally involves trading one closet for another: You may be acting on your sense of self to finally achieve happiness, but the specter of potential discovery is still with you. And if you wind up in the public eye for any reason, stealth might be that much more difficult to maintain.
As an adaptive strategy to cope with being transgender, stealth is something of an unhappy legacy of an earlier age. It was often the recommended goal for trans folks from the ’60s well into the ’90s from a psychiatric community that was doing little better than winging it, and that poorly served a (now) older generation of the generally white trans women who could afford psychiatric help. So, at the same time the outbreak of AIDS was killing off so many of the nascent trans community’s much-needed leaders — including some of those who instigated the Stonewall riots and launched the LGBT rights movement in this country — another segment was being screwed by professional advice to cut themselves off from their families, their jobs, and their hometowns to begin life anew as someone else in their new gender. In stealth. Without the support network they’d spent their lives with. As if being trans weren’t hard enough, therapy’s best solution was to tell you to isolate yourself.[/blockquote]
[blockquote source=”Think Progress”]In continuing his reporting, Hannan revealed to one of the investors in Vanderbilt’s company that she was transgender. He told Vanderbilt and Gerri Jordan, the president of Yar Golf, that he planned to publish his findings about her credentials and her previous identity. Jordan offered Hannan evidence of Vanderbilt’s credentials, though Vanderbilt insisted he would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement in exchange for them. When Hannan rejected the offer, he and Vanderbilt had an acrimonious final exchange. Later, Hannan learned that Vanderbilt, who had previously attempted suicide, had succeeded in killing herself.[/blockquote]
[blockquote source=”Think Progress”]For some of Grantland’s critics, Simmons’ focus on his own editorial processes, rather than on Vanderbilt’s death, is distasteful. And there are a number of issues he could have, and perhaps should have, touched on. I would have liked to see Simmons more directly address the separate issue of reporting on subjects who are mentally ill, or who have attempted suicide in the past.[/blockquote]
[blockquote source=”Slate”]Hannan’s story, and the writer’s defenders, show the dangers of privileging fact-finding and the quest for a great story over compassion and humanity. One of the wisest comments I’ve seen over the last few days came from Steve Silberman, who wrote on Twitter that Hannan’s piece “has structural problems that turned into moral ones.” The Grantland story has the tone and pacing of a thriller. Section by section, Hannan lays out that Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt is not who she purports to be—that she didn’t go to MIT, and that she didn’t work in the defense industry. As part of that litany of shocking disclosures, Hannan also reveals that Dr. V—whom he never met in person—was born Stephen Krol. “Cliché or not, a chill actually ran up my spine,” he writes, explaining the sensation he felt upon deducing “that Essay Anne Vanderbilt was once a man.”[/blockquote]
[blockquote source=”Autostraddle”]Hannan details Dr. V’s history of lawsuits, relationships and a suicide attempt. He describes outing her as trans to at least one investor without her consent, and without any acknowledgement of the fact that that’s what he was doing. And then, as the linchpin of the piece, he writes “What began as a story about a brilliant woman with a new invention had turned into a tale of a troubled man who had invented a new life for himself. Yet the biggest question remained unanswered: Had Dr. V created a great golf club or merely a great story?”
“A tale of a troubled man who had invented a new life for himself.”
A troubled man.
Just like that, Hannan did what so many people do: he called into question the reality of Dr. V’s gender as if her being trans was as suspect as her missing degrees.[/blockquote]
[blockquote source=”VICE”]If you would like to read that story you could head over to Grantland.com and check out Caleb Hannan’s 8,000-or-so word essay on his oh-so fascinating investigations into the mysterious Dr V. Or if, like me, you’d rather spend that time getting drunk, or fucking, or watching Breaking Bad, you could get all the facts simply by reading my next three sentences. A transgender woman known as Dr. V invented a new type of golf club and lied about her academic qualifications. A journalist called Caleb Hannan threated to publish details about these professional lies and also out her as transgender against her will. A few days later she killed herself.[/blockquote]
[blockquote source=”Shakesville”]There are already legions of defenders, who are keen to make arguments that Dr. V’s lies about her background are newsworthy, which is debatable, although I tend to agree that lying about her educational and professional history, which were apparently a central part of the pitch to investors and potential buyers, was unethical and worth reporting.* But her being transgender is entirely irrelevant—and if Hannan’s research into the former was what led to his discovery of the latter, it doesn’t mean each piece is equally appropriate to report.[/blockquote]
[blockquote source=”Bustle”]As a transgender person, my relationship with mass media hasn’t always been the best. Every single day, when I watch television, or a film, or read news articles, or books, or even Twitter, I feel like I’m walking through a minefield. Inevitably, I will step on one and be assaulted with some horribly insensitive comment or dehumanizing portrayal of a trans person. The systemic view of trans individuals as non-people is too ubiquitous, and the lack of understanding of our struggles coming to terms with our identities has created a mythologization of our lives with little concern for our perspective.[/blockquote]
[blockquote source=”Jezebel”]It is well written, and extremely well-reported, but in this case, a bit too reported. That was evident when backlash surfaced on Twitter from members and advocates in the trans community, who, all too aware of the prejudice and violence trans people experience and lengths they must often go to to protect their livelihoods and bodies, took issue with what they felt was a callous disregard for Vanderbilt’s privacy regarding her trans status, not to mention numerous problems with the story’s structure, tone, and some recurring misgendering.[/blockquote]
[blockquote source=”GLAAD”]It is never appropriate to out a transgender person. Statistics show that transgender people – particularly transgender women – are subjected to incredibly high levels of discrimination and violence.[/blockquote]