Follow breaking news @lgbtqnation
Views & Voices

The Tragedy of Dr. V

"The novelty of the 'trans reveal' that shocks cisgender sensibilities has little appeal when the end result is, more often than not, violence towards us."
Tuesday, January 21, 2014

As a transgender person, my relationship with mass media hasn’t always been the best of relationships.

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 onslaught with some horribly insensitive comment or dehumanizing portrayal of a trans person.

transgenderThe 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.

Like any other mythology, the transgender mythology relies on cultural tropes that help to structure narratives around it, which appeal to a shared sense of reality. This reality, however, is one told from only one perspective – that of cisgender, or non-trans people. Thet are the heroes, the polloi, the Hellenes. We are the monsters that the hero must battle, the exotic and shameful lust that the hero must resist, or the riddle that the hero must solve.

This mythology can serve as the foundation of both tragic and the comedic narrative, from sophomoric frat boy humor to the epic tale. Regrettably, this mythology even manages, from time to time, to seep into the realm of journalism.

At the heart of much of this mythology is the theme of deception. Mainly, that transgender individuals, by living in the gender with which they identify, are doing so with intent to deceive, as if there were some inherently ulterior motive in their assertion of their own identity.

This assumption is especially problematic in a society where transgender women are referred to as “traps” and face the threat of violence if their transgender status is discovered.

Enter Caleb Hannan.

On January 15, Hannan published an article in which he investigated the history of a peculiar golf club that he learned about via YouTube. Such an article wouldn’t be the most enthralling subject to anyone who was not a golf enthusiast, but when used as the vehicle for a commonly understood mythology wrapped up in all the trappings of a mystery, on the other hand, that is interesting.

As Hannan detailed the aspects of Dr. V’s story that, in his mind, didn’t add up, I could only imagine that he saw himself as a hero serving the will of the gods of investigative journalism.

Dr. V, the golf club’s mastermind, was, on the surface, merely an eccentric genius with a brilliant product, but like any reporter doing their job, he couldn’t to rely on appearances alone. He began to investigate, and indeed, he found inconsistencies in her credentials which cast doubt on the science of the golf club.

Hannan didn’t seem to focus on the perceived inconsistencies in her credentials, however. Instead, he crafted his narrative around the perceived inconsistencies in her gender, a matter wholly unrelated to the golf club or the science behind it, and elected to draw upon the mythology of transgender deception to undermine her identity.

Hannan described the “chill down his spine” when the monster (a human being in the form of a trans woman) was revealed to him. He described a sense of epic betrayal when reality did not conform to his assumptions. He even described the pity he felt for this monster, whose identity he pathologized as he woefully described Dr. V as a “troubled man.”

What he didn’t do was humanize the subject of his inquiries. He summoned her, described her Otherness to an unsympathetic audience, described her sins of deception (to her investor as well as to Hannan’s assumptions), and vowed to vanquish her evil by “revealing the details” of her past, despite Dr. V’s requests.

As if to justify what follows, Hannan relates the “menacing” tone of Dr. V frantically pleading with him to not reveal her identity to a world hostile to her existence. Hannan refuses, and the tale reaches its tragic climax.

In the end, Dr. V took her own life.

Disturbingly, Hannan adopts a stoic posture, expressing a regret that rings hollow and frankly unaware of the severity of his actions.

“Although there were times when I had been genuinely thrilled with the revelation that Dr. V’s official narrative didn’t line up with reality, there was nothing satisfying about where the story had ended up. ”

The tragedy of her Dr. V’s death was written as Hannan’s tragedy, a regrettable end of a heroic epic. An epic whose moral seems to indicate that all could have been avoided had she not been deceptive.

This is perhaps the most troubling inconsistency, however – namely, that Hannan’s tale was not, in fact, a fantasy. It was a reality.

Dr. V was no monster – she was a person, and the end result of his dissection of Dr. V’s identity and his exposure of that identity without her consent ended in her very real death. The moral of the story for transgender individuals was a very different one – not to trust others under penalty of death.

This is sadly not an uncommon story for us. The novelty of the “trans reveal” that shocks cisgender sensibilities has little appeal to us when the end result of that mythological trope is, more often than not, violence towards us.

The mythology of our deceptiveness is inconsistent with our own narratives of heroic defiance of a society that wishes to destroy us. We’re tired of our reality being viewed as mythology and the mythology surrounding our existence being portrayed as reality. Most of all, we’re tired of this mythology killing us.

Advertisement
I’m not accusing Caleb Hannan of murder. His journalism, however, was irresponsible. He violated Dr. V’s trust and revealed aspects of her identity that were not public domain without her consent. He did this to write a story about a golf club.

What makes matters worse is that it was totally unnecessary – her gender identity did not need to be a part of the story at all, and if we lived in a society that saw our gender identities as valid and not deceptive, perhaps Dr. V wouldn’t have felt a need to keep hers hidden.

This is the reality, the end result of mythology that dehumanizes us. This is not a tragedy that we can walk away from. This is our lives, and the best outcome that I can hope for is that the reality of our existence, not the mythology, becomes accepted so that tragedies like this don’t occur again.

Opinions and advice expressed in our Views & Voices columns represent the author's own views and not necessarily those of LGBTQ Nation. We welcome opposing views and diverse perspectives. To submit a article, column or video, contact us here. Due to the volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee publication.

Share this article with your friends and followers:

Archives: , ,

Filed under: Views & Voices

8 more reader comments:

  1. The bitch can kiss my ass- judgemental piece of crap!

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 3:27am
  2. What a shitty “reporter”. I’m trans, proud and am sick to death of all the assholes. Transition is hard, its uncomfortable, even painful. We don’t go through all this for some jerk to come out us and make our lives hell.
    I decided a long time ago not to hide that I’m trans. I’m tired of hiding who I am, so I won’t go through all this to go into hiding again. Many trans individuals want to feel “normal”, however, so they will go into “deep stealth”.
    Just a sad time.

    Posted on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 1:53pm
  3. That’s a beautiful flag

    Posted on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 5:33pm
  4. If he did exposure her, or pardon the term (I apologize in advance) outed her which then lead to her being killed, call it for what it is, MURDER, and HE murdered her, not with his hands oh no but by releasing her name, so haters could do it for him. So tgat being said yes he DID cause her MURDER.

    Posted on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 5:47pm
  5. Bullying is bullying. Personal life is that…personal.

    Posted on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 5:58pm
  6. This is just one reason I abandoned journalism.

    Posted on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 8:32pm
  7. the story in question talked about how Dr. V lied about her credentials – that was the big thing that Caleb got onto her about. The “oh my god she had another identity in the past” detail came after.

    What you’re doing is also wrong – yes, Caleb should’ve reported more objectively and not thrown in the “twist” at the end for shock value, but he wasn’t trying to do any character defamation. What he was doing was trying to understand the genesis of a golf club that seemed too good to be true. You propagate the idea that trying to understand former identities is wrong to the current identity – that one shouldn’t understand how things work.

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 12:35am
  8. no, he was not. the author went to the extent of outing her to investors and threatening to out her in publication. he refused to listen. he disclosed private medical history, an illegal offense. this was more than a story on some golf club or a woman falsifying credentials. he made it seem as if refusing to disclose her trans* status was another addition to her fraud. in essence, he's a shit journalist and an even worse human being. harassment is wrong. don't justify it. period.

    Replied on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 2:10am