The Juneau Empire recently ran on its editorial page a cartoon making transgender people the butt of an unfunny joke – not that it would have been any more appropriate had it been in some way funny.
As a former member of the Juneau Empire newsroom, I was highly disappointed to see ink laid to paper for such an insensitive and inaccurate portrayal of a group of people, especially a group so marginalized. As a newspaper, the goal is to inform and aid people in understanding, but this cartoon used a powerful platform to mock and disparage. It is all the more embarrassing considering the Juneau Empire has a GLAAD Media Award attached to its name for a five-part series about LGBTQ community members in Juneau – a series meant to inform and invite understanding. I know. I wrote it.
Since then, I have been able to write further articles relating to sexuality and gender identity and their intersection with public policy in Alaska. Most recently, I wrote about the Juneau School District’s treatment of and obligation to protect the rights of transgender and gender-fluid students, and it is appalling to me that these young students will get the message that the Juneau Empire sees them as jokey cartoon cross-dressers and not as real people, simply because their gender and sex assigned at birth are not aligned. Even if this cartoon was chosen to share one among a diverse array of opinions, it is worth noting that some opinions aren’t worth the ink.