Some of you…those who take the Daily Mail on a regular basis…may just have been spluttering into your cornflakes this morning at the tale of a cruel and heartless pair of sexual deviants who just upped and offed some six months ago, abandoning their daughter, whilst they swanned off to indulge whatever selfish lifestyle that such deviants get up to.
The lede to their piece explains the story in one graphic sentence: “Police are hunting a transsexual and his wife who have disappeared – leaving their ten-year-old daughter behind.” Oh. Sorry. Did I say “deviant”?
I meant, of course, “transsexual”: but it is pretty clear from the angling of the story that the two are but one step removed. Kissing cousins, if you like…and we all know what happens when cousins get together!
Its not an original piece. In fact, it is almost – but not quite – taken word for word from a report that appeared in the local press at the weekend. So the Mail have added nothing in terms of investigative reporting. But they have added…well…lets run through.
In the local press, police are simply hunting “a couple”.
According to the local paper, Jake, aka Amyrose, is undegoing a “gender re-assignment process”. In the Mail, the phrase “to become a woman” gets tacked on. Not sure what that adds, unless, perhaps, one assumes that Mail readers are a little slow on the uptake and need to understand that gender re-assignment involves, er…a change of gender. Sort of.
The local press report a witness who claimed to have seen “Amyrose leaving a female restroom” back in July.
In the Mail, this transposes to the witness having seen “Jake leaving a ladies lavatory dressed as a woman”. The first version is neutral. The second nudges the reader towards a view of this as something unnatural. This – shock! Horror! – is a BLOKE dressing as a woman using the ladies’ loos.
Readers are therefore invited to focus on the sexual transgression implied, rather than the simple facts.
And the kicker? Well, it appears that Jake had previously been spotted posting images of himself on the internet “wearing a wig, women’s clothes and make up”.
Again, hardly surprising, given that AmyRose is mid re-assignment. Women do this sort of thing all the time: but for Jake to do so…well, the clear inference that readers are meant to draw is that SOMETHING is up. After all, what self-respecting person would post pics of themselves on the net wearing a wig and make-up!
Interesting, too, that this is the only original detail in the entire story. I doubt the Mail made it up: that would be potentially libellous, and their lawyers would have sharply rapped the knuckles of any editor attempting to introduce it as an unsubstantiated claim.
Still: I do wonder where it came from. The story is attributed in the Mail to a Staff Reporter…meaning, most likely, a newsdesk re-write. Not done by anyone with the time to go hunting out additional story details.
Its grotesque. The story is probably factually accurate. The difference, quite simply, is that the Mail have spun it in a way that makes the transsexual angle into something sleazy and possibly worse. These are two heartless parents, we are given to understand…although without any additional background, it is hard to tell just what is going on.
Elsewhere, it is reported that their daughter is now with relatives. Abandoned? Or is it just possible that there is something else going on here? Like an individual trying to transition, enduring abuse from neighbours, and finally unable to stand it any more.
We can’t tell…because no-one seems to have gone much further in investigating this than the original police statements.
Clearly, there is cause for worry, and we must all hope that this matter will be resolved in due course. What there isn’t cause for is the snidery that emanates from the Mail: the sense that somewhere, somehow, this is all about being transsexual…and then going just that step further, and positioning transition as something shameful.