It started as an investigative story about a “scientifically superior” golf club. But when “Dr. V’s Magic Putter” revealed — without her consent — that the inventor was transgender, the article quickly morphed into a cautionary tale about media coverage of the transgender community. Kojo explores the ethics questions raised by the story, and how organized sports leagues have tried to accommodate trans athletes.

Guests

  • Fallon Fox Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Fighter
  • Christina Kahrl Major League Baseball Editor and Columnist, ESPN.com

Transcript

  • 12:24:27

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIIt started as a long investigative article that quickly morphed into a cautionary tale about how not to write about transgender people. On January 15th, an article titled, "Dr. V's Magical Putter" appeared on the Grantland sports website. The story dug into the hype and the questionable science behind a new golf club called Oracle GXi. It also dug into the personal story of its inventor Essay Anne Vanderbilt.

  • 12:24:54

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIOver the course of 8,000 words, it highlighted inconsistencies in her past and ultimately revealed that she was a transgender woman. Before the article went to press, Vanderbilt committed suicide. And over the last two weeks, a debate has erupted across the media about how transgender people are represented in media and about the way the sports world treats trans people. We're joined this hour by two women who have first-hand experience with these particular questions.

  • 12:25:23

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIThey both join us from the studios of WBEZ in Chicago. Christina Kahrl is baseball editor and columnist with ESPN.com. Christina has joined us many times on this show to discuss baseball. But today, she's wearing a slightly different hat talking about her experiences as a transgender woman in the sports media. Christina, good to talk to you again.

  • 12:25:45

    MS. CHRISTINA KAHRLAlways a pleasure, Kojo.

  • 12:25:46

    NNAMDIAlso joining us if Fallon Fox. Fallon Fox is a mixed martial arts fighter. She is the first MMA fighter to come out as transgender. Fallon Fox, thank you for joining us.

  • 12:25:57

    MS. FALLON FOXHey, Kojo, thanks for having me on the show.

  • 12:25:59

    NNAMDIFor those of you who'd like to join this conversation, give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send your email with questions or comments to kojo@wamu.org. Send us a tweet @kojoshow or go to our website, kojoshow.org. Join the conversation there. Christina, this was an 8,000-word article which appeared in Grantland, a respected publication owned by ESPN.

  • 12:26:22

    NNAMDIIt was written by a young freelance writer who describes himself as a bad golfer, who sets out to find out if this new putter can really measure up to the revolutionary claims of its inventor and certain golf celebrities. But it has been widely criticized because it outed a transgender woman against her wishes. You recently wrote that this was, quoting here, "A permanent exhibit of what not to do and how not to treat a fellow human being." First, Christina, tell us about the story and how it came about.

  • 12:26:55

    KAHRLWell, I think, you know, like, again, Caleb Hannan, the author, was coming at this as somebody who had a lot of questions about this putter because he had seen it advertised and he really, you know, like, dug into the story, talked to the inventor, the inventor agreed. Essay Anne Vanderbilt agreed to talk to him as long as he focused on, you know, the putter and the science behind the putter. And she had made several representations about her background and what had led to the design that made it so revolutionary.

  • 12:27:25

    KAHRLAnd when he did his basic research into her background, like, to see whether or not she'd really been at MIT or worked at the Defense Department on the stealth bomber and all of the other comments that she had utilized in trying to market her putter, none of it was coming up. And then he found out that she had previously, of course, lived in her birth gender as a man and that she had had to deal with that and had transitioned long before she was in stealth.

  • 12:27:55

    KAHRLShe was not out about being trans. And in addition to creating this kind of controversy over, like, you know, how do you deal with that as a writer, I mean, I would suggest that people should always be at pains to, you know, reassure a person in that situation that this wasn't germane to the story, I'm not outing you, I'm not going to out you. But, Caleb, even before the decision to publish was made had already made the mistake of outing her to one Essay Anne's investor.

  • 12:28:24

    KAHRLWhich, you know, again, is one of those things you shouldn't do that, you know, in the work-a-day world in any sense, let alone outing her in a story, which subsequently of course was just, again, not what you would like to see. And it's something that unfortunately we see happen pretty much, you know, every week across the country. I mean, like, of a transwoman a victim was found as, you know, as murdered almost always you'll find, you know, newspapers outing them and not identifying them on the basis of their identity or by the name they live under.

  • 12:28:54

    KAHRLBut instead in, like, talking about, like, the name that they were born under and the gender they were born into initially. So the fact that posthumously they outed her when, again, it really just wasn't germane to the story. I mean, they wanted to talk about this golf club, they wanted to talk about why it was, you know, like, a revolutionary or not and they want to talk about, you know, like, the fact that her credentials didn't really, like, match her claims. You know, all of that could have been a great sports story. But that isn't where they left it. And instead they made the mistake that they did.

  • 12:29:24

    NNAMDIWe should probably note right at the top of this conversation that we will be speaking about some issues that many people don't think about and that some people might find uncomfortable. But the truth is, when it comes to trans people and accommodations, there's a huge education gap for many people. So we're hoping here that we can create a respectful forum to take those questions from the audience. You can call us now at 800-433-8850.

  • 12:29:49

    NNAMDIDo you think the media does an adequate job covering transgender people and the trans community? 800-433-8850. Fallon Fox, Essay Anne Vanderbilt was an inventor and an entrepreneur who designs sports equipment and actually kind of avoided the spotlight. You're an athlete, but you are actually outed by a stranger like she was. A big issue here is whether and when that kind of personal story is someone else's to tell. Right? How do you feel about that?

  • 12:30:22

    FOXI agree. Personally, I wasn't actually outed. I was actually -- there was a reporter who was trying to out me who was actually trying to confront me on the issue of my trans status. I actually outed myself to Sports Illustrated because there was a reporter who was looking into this matter. And I wanted to try and get around it and come out publicly in a better way because, clearly, the reporter who was trying to out me wasn't doing something that was in my best interest. You know, and I knew it was coming for a while, but that's the way that I decide to go about it was to come out publicly.

  • 12:30:59

    KAHRLI think it's also interesting or I think it would be worth bringing up the point that, you know, like, today I think, particularly in journalistic practice, you would not treat a gay or a lesbian athlete in this way. You would not have people trying to dig this up and then feel free to just out, you know, an athlete whether or not they were gay or lesbian. That's what so very strange in terms of practice is that, you know, yet journalists feel empowered to this with trans athletes.

  • 12:31:24

    NNAMDIYou know, Essay Anne Vanderbilt took her own life before this article was published. And while that was a shocking and tragic end, unfortunately it is my understanding, Christina, that suicide is not an uncommon problem among trans people.

  • 12:31:41

    KAHRLWell, the statistics has been claimed -- quoted a lot in recent weeks is 41 percent of all trans people have attempted suicide at one point or another. Again, I think every one of us in the community has lost at least one person. I know I've lost, you know, three different transwomen who, you know, in the 11, 12 years since I've come out, you know, I've lost. And it's just part of our community, it's an epidemic.

  • 12:32:10

    KAHRLIt is something that needs to be resolved and needs to be addressed on so many levels. And it has everything to do with, you know, the disempowerment and the real problems that trans people confront in terms of acceptance.

  • 12:32:25

    NNAMDIWe got an email from Leonardo in Washington, D.C. who said, "I look forward to today's Dr. V segment as it should address that today's society really needs to honestly, look at, and actively address. However, please do not let the timeline be misconstrued as that inaccurately directs any resulting conversation. The Grantland piece ran many weeks after Dr. V's death. Its running did not lead to her tragic end. It seems irresponsible that so many people placed the life of Dr. V at the writer's feet."

  • 12:32:55

    NNAMDI"He was asking questions and following the various paths, where the loose threads took him. I think the issues that led Dr. V to suicide, issues that many transgender folks have trouble coping with every day are where our energy and conversations should be focused." That's what Leonardo wrote. We do have to mention that the article we're talking about was the culmination of eight months of research, interviews and writing.

  • 12:33:18

    NNAMDIEssay Anne Vanderbilt committed suicide three months before it was published. And when the Arizona Republic spoke with friends and family of Essay Anne, they said that this article might have affected the timing of her decision to take her life, but it was not the cause. Christina, Fallon, nobody in this conversation knew Essay Anne Vanderbilt personally. Still, it's pretty clear that much of her public persona was fabricated.

  • 12:33:45

    NNAMDIShe claimed to have worked on the stealth bomber at the Department of Defense. She claimed to have graduated from MIT. She claimed to have been a member of the Vanderbilt family. But this article, what it did was conflate those untruths with the fact that this woman lied about her past life before she was transitioned as if that was further proof that she was dishonest. Why is that so problematic, Christina?

  • 12:34:10

    KAHRLWell, that's the problem right there. When you say that she lied, she hadn't lied about her gender. Let's be very blunt here. I mean, Essay Anne was always trans. She was always a trans woman. You're born trans so that the notion that, you know, somehow -- that this thing that she was honest about at all points about being a trans person or about being a women, that's her prerogative and that is her self-identification.

  • 12:34:36

    KAHRLThe idea that you get to bundle that with the misrepresentation she may or may not -- she may have made about her credentials, you know, that's the problem I think where in terms of journalistic practice they put something that was true, her identity, with all of the things that were potentially untrue and that's not fair to her at all.

  • 12:34:57

    NNAMDIFallon -- excuse me -- in the last year or so, we've seen some very big examples of gay athletes coming out of the closet, Jason Collins in the NBA, Robbie Rogers in soccer, but trans athletes still face a different kind of skepticism, a different kind of hostility. Why do you think that is?

  • 12:35:16

    FOXI think the trans community is about 15 to 20 years behind the LGB community, the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community. I think there's a lot of questions and because we're so controversial because we're so new. Transition -- physical transition has only been around for the past, I don't know, 100 years or so, 50 years or so. So it's pretty new. And people are just starting to get used to this idea of people transitioning. And to them, it's, like, controversial. And we see, like, talk shows with, like, wild things -- what's the name of one? You know, you've seen them, the talk shows out there where...

  • 12:35:56

    NNAMDIOh, well, they sensationalize us, they (unintelligible).

  • 12:35:58

    FOXThey sensationalize trans people, they (unintelligible) and they make us seem like we're people. And that's part of the issue. I think another part is they don't understand what happens to our body. People don't understand that when you take hormones in transitions, you fall. Either way you go, if you're going from male to female or female to male, right around the range you would have been if you were transgendered after transition, I believe.

  • 12:36:23

    KAHRLYeah, hormone replacement therapy, you know, like, so radically changes your body and your body chemistry that, you know, again, the points of separation from, you know, people who are, you know, born into their gender and identifying their gender, this gender, you know, that's, you know, like, we haven't actually end up with having a ton in common. And so, it really is kind of unfortunate. People still make these kinds of distinction.

  • 12:36:50

    FOXAnd I also think that -- this is something that is an ongoing thing. Like, they try to -- and in each new minority category that tries to compete in sports, they always try and use physical characteristics against them. Like, say, when black women tried to compete in track, they tried to say their bone density was too high. They're doing the same thing with trans athletes. Same arguments.

  • 12:37:14

    NNAMDIWhen we've seen examples of athletes competing in women's sport the same issue you're talking about Fallon, who were either born genetically male or gender ambiguous, a lot of people assume that would give them some sort of athletic advantage, that they would have broader shoulders or more muscle mass. But the opposite may actually be true, it's my understanding. Fallon?

  • 12:37:36

    FOXRight. Some of us may have broader shoulders. That is your skeletal structure may be different and may have wide shoulders here or your hips might be a little bit thinner depending on the trans athlete. But musculature decreases and, I mean, it may be in some cases maybe a tad bit stronger, but not freakishly stronger. So we fall within the range of if you're going from male to female of normal cisgendered women athletes.

  • 12:38:07

    NNAMDIChristina, care to comment?

  • 12:38:08

    FOXIt's not like it's something that a female, a cisgendered female could not attain if she were to work hard.

  • 12:38:14

    NNAMDICare to comment, Christina? Same question.

  • 12:38:17

    KAHRLOh, I think, you know, like, again, one of the things that's interesting, particularly when we're talking about competition or competition of this nature is that the history of, you know, gender ambiguous or trans or people we might subsequently identify as trans participating in particularly women's events, I mean, you go back to the very first, you know, gold medalist in I want to say the 100 meters in 1932 Olympics.

  • 12:38:40

    KAHRLYou know, subsequently, we understand she might have been trans in the sense that Stella Walsh, you know, like, running for Poland, you know, was one of the first great, like, sports celebrities certainly from Poland but also in the Olympics. And so she met -- she got the gold in '32, she got the silver in '36. She had been, on her birth certificate, was reflected that she was a woman. But, you know, over the course -- and had always competed as a woman.

  • 12:39:02

    KAHRLBut then, you know, after her death it was found that she had ambiguous genitalia. And so people say -- would subsequently say, well, was she trans? Was she intersex? How would she self-identify? And I would say Stella Walsh would self-identify as a woman. That's the way she had always lived and always competed. And so the Olympics have had this, you know, issue essentially all the way at the very beginning of women's events being included in the Olympics.

  • 12:39:26

    KAHRLSo that later when you get to athletes, whether it's, like, Caster Semenya or Keelin Godsey, like, competing or trying to make it onto the 2012 U.S. team as an amateur, I think. You know, you've got great examples of trans athletes who are blazing trails or creating questions about, like, well, shouldn't they be allowed to compete? If we're going to practice essentially sex segregation across sports, you know, Caster Semenya, again, is somebody who has always lived as a woman and created the question, well, why wouldn't she be allowed to compete?

  • 12:40:00

    KAHRLAnd they did allow her to compete. Keelin Godsey, same difference. She was -- or he was allowed to compete and, you know, just finished fifth and did not qualify for the Olympic team in 2012. Again, I think the challenge for so many trans-athletes is that they're forced to be trailblazers.

  • 12:40:17

    KAHRLThey force their sports to address the question of how do you come down on trans-athletes and their right to compete in the first place. Kye Allums is a great example. Somebody who was playing Division I basketball right there at G.W.…

  • 12:40:29

    NNAMDIYes.

  • 12:40:29

    KAHRL…in D.C. And, you know, Kye, you know, coming out as trans, in college, you know that was extremely brave.

  • 12:40:37

    NNAMDIFor those people who are unfamiliar with that situation, Kye came out as trans, self-identified as a man, but continued to play on the George Washington women's basketball team.

  • 12:40:47

    KAHRLAnd could not start hormone replacement therapy as long as he was competing on the women's team, but, again, found acceptance within the NCAAA, found -- you know, was able to compete, and, you know, that standard is, I think, important to set and also force the NCAAA to really kind of confront, well, trans-athletes are going to exist, they're going to continue to want to compete, they want to do the same things everybody else wants to do. If you're an athlete, you're an athlete. You want to compete. And if you're going to sex segregate then just have to put trans-athletes in the correct categories.

  • 12:41:21

    NNAMDIAlso presents some unique challenges. In your case, Fallon, you take estrogen hormones, which actually presents a serious challenge training in such a competitive sport, does it not?

  • 12:41:33

    FOXYes, it does actually. I have a lower testosterone count than any cisgendered female on the planet, I do believe. Right? But the amount of testosterone that I have in my body is virtually nonexistent. My body can't produce that any more.

  • 12:41:47

    NNAMDIOnto the telephones. Here is Sukruya, in La Plata, Md. Sukruya, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:41:56

    SUKRUYAHi, my comment only is I think we all need to respect each other's own decisions. This is just a reality. We can live with the peace, everybody. I mean, we just need to let people make their own choices about their own personal life. I mean I'm not lesbian or gay, but that's all I think. I try to teach to my children because this is really sad how people feel bad because of what other people do to them and they kill them and it's really sad to me. You know, I hear all these stories.

  • 12:42:32

    NNAMDIYes, indeed. One of the other things that transgender people report, Christina Kahrl, is not only a high percentage of attempted suicides, but a very high percentage of threats.

  • 12:42:45

    KAHRLOh, absolutely. The dangers directed, the amount of violence directed at transpeople is extraordinary and is really kind of -- and the way in which these crimes are prosecuted, in terms of the people who, you know, when you look at situation like Islan Nettles was murdered right across the street from a police station just this past summer in Harlem. You know, and there were multiple witnesses and yet, you know, like, a situation like that, where they haven't made an arrest or they haven't made -- they aren't prosecuting anyone for it, even though they have a pretty good idea of who did it.

  • 12:43:19

    KAHRLThe number of people who will kill transpeople and then might actually, you know, fall back on what they call a gay-panic defense or anything like that and getting light sentences -- again, the way in which the justice system is cheapening the lives of transpeople by not treating our lives with respect by not identifying that transpeople are at real risk for hate crimes and for violence directed against us, it's really tough to deal with.

  • 12:43:45

    KAHRLAgain, this is something where when I was living in D.C., the first year I was -- like, in 2003, right after I had come out, two girls that I had met were both murdered. Six girls over all in D.C. alone had been murdered in one 12-month stretch. And, you know, it got the point that my boss called me in and said, look, you know, I had no idea until, like, you know, you actually start paying attention in the news, how many transpeople are being killed every single -- like across the country. And it's really unconscionable because it's not being addressed effectively by law enforcement and it's not being prosecuted effectively in the justice system.

  • 12:44:20

    NNAMDIWe've got to take a short break. When we come back we'll continue this conversation on sports and media grappling with transgender representation. Inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. You can send email to kojo@wamu.org, with your questions or comments. Or simply go to our website, kojoshow.org and join the conversation there. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 12:46:30

    NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation about how media and sports are grappling with transgender representation. We're talking with Fallon Fox. She is a mixed martial arts fighter. The first MMA fighter to come out as transgender. She joins us from the studios at WBEZ in Chicago, along with Christina Kahrl, baseball editor and columnist with ESPN.com. Christina, as you may have heard, been on this show many times to discuss baseball. Today she's talking about her experiences as a transgender woman in the sports media. And we're inviting your calls at 800-433-8850.

  • 12:47:04

    NNAMDIChristina, Fallon, when we the media examine issues confronting transpeople we almost always start with a conversation about adults, especially when we're talking about sports, but these questions of fairness and accommodation might actually be more urgent at the amateur level, all the way down to kids' sports leagues and playground games. D.C. is actually one of 13 or 14 states that allows young athletes to compete with the gender they identify with. Why is that important?

  • 12:47:34

    FOXI think it's incredibly important for a child's psyche, if they're trans, to be able to compete in the gender which they feel they belong in. Yeah, I think that's incredibly important.

  • 12:47:47

    KAHRLNow, it's one of those things where you want a kid to have the right to have his or her own childhood. You want them to have the same childhood that all other kids take for granted, that all parents take for granted on behalf of their kids. So trans kids, they don't want to be, you know, othered, they don't want to be trans kids, they just want to be kids.

  • 12:48:05

    KAHRLThey just want to do the stuff that all of their classmates are doing. They want to compete and do the same things. They're interested in the same activities. And so to bar them from being able to do the things that, you know, every other kid gets to do, you know, to make them -- to basically rob any kind of sense of normality from their childhood, I mean, why would we do that?

  • 12:48:23

    NNAMDIWell…

  • 12:48:23

    KAHRLIt's really unfortunate.

  • 12:48:24

    NNAMDI…last year California became the first state to pass a law establishing the rights of kids in K through 12 sports to play in sex segregated programs based on their self-identification. But there has been some pushback, some organized, some kind of visceral because a lot of people immediately think that this will create its own kind of unfairness. If someone who has the physical muscles and weight of a boy, but identifies as a girl is allowed to compete against girls, are those valid concerns in your book, Fallon, Christina?

  • 12:48:57

    FOXFor me, I don't see them as a valid concern. In jujitsu, I see it all the time. With cisgendered children we're already doing this. We have the North American -- wait not a North American Grappling Association. To a certain age the male children compete with the female children in jujitsu. And this is like doing arm bars and choking each other out. I don't see they're a big pushback in the sport of jujitsu.

  • 12:49:31

    NNAMDIHow do you feel…

  • 12:49:31

    FOXI think it's more of a thing about people being uncomfortable with kids being trans.

  • 12:49:37

    KAHRLWell, and I would also suggest, the California situation, what's going on with SB1266 is in the news a lot right now. But I think it wouldn't be worthwhile that, however controversial that is, to draw a direct comparison to the states that already had that standard in play. I mean, we refer to it as the Washington State Standard because I believe Washington State was the first one to adopt it.

  • 12:49:59

    KAHRLThere have been no controversies in the states that have already long since adopted this. There have not been any problems. There have not been any problems in terms of accommodations. You end up with athletes just competing on the basis of their self-identification and it's not a source of controversy.

  • 12:50:14

    KAHRLSo as much some groups are trying to inflate this as some sort of, like you know, horrifying, like, situation, it's not. Kids are just getting to do what kids do, which is compete and play. And so this is not creating any of the dangers or risks that, you know, that the critics have essentially invented.

  • 12:50:33

    NNAMDIFallon, you're fighting adults, however. But there have been some female fighters who claim that you have an unfair advantage against them. How do you respond?

  • 12:50:44

    FOXWell, it started off, they were talking about my musculature. They said that I was stronger, then we beat them back on that. We proved that the musculature does decrease after a certain amount of time. And then they went and talked about bone structure, which really isn't that much of an advantage, if any advantage of all. And then they talked about bone density which is a ridiculous claim.

  • 12:51:10

    KAHRLWell, no. I'm always like kind of amused because the famous -- there's that shot of you…

  • 12:51:15

    FOXRight.

  • 12:51:15

    KAHRL…like at a weigh-in. And you see Fallon and Fallon is a well-wit muscled woman who, you know, but like they always trim that photo so you see only Fallon. If they show the full photo where it's Fallon standing next to the woman she's going to be fighting, you see Fallon is smaller than the woman. And the other woman is so much more ripped, I mean, which is not a criticism of Fallon, but, I mean, this woman is a big, strong woman and Fallon is the little person stepping in and she's the smaller, slighter person in that particular fight.

  • 12:51:45

    FOXRight.

  • 12:51:46

    KAHRLAnd I just, like, always think that, you know, people -- if you put Fallon up against anybody else, I mean, like you get these, I think, wild and unfair, you know…

  • 12:51:55

    FOXYeah, you're talking about the Erica Newsome fight.

  • 12:51:57

    KAHRLYeah.

  • 12:51:59

    FOXRight. So in my sport, I'm gonna be -- sometimes I'm going to be stronger than my opponent, sometimes my opponent is going to be stronger than me, as in that case. We fight with different attributes as fighters or as athletes in any sport. The object in your sport is to overcome your opponent's attributes or skill level. All these things play in.

  • 12:52:17

    NNAMDIWho won that fight, Fallon?

  • 12:52:20

    FOXThe one with Erica Newsome?

  • 12:52:21

    NNAMDIYes.

  • 12:52:21

    FOXI won that one, 39 seconds. Thirty-nine seconds.

  • 12:52:24

    NNAMDIWell…

  • 12:52:24

    FOXAnd she was actually in better physical condition than I was. However, in my last fight -- I lost that one. And I would argue that we were probably close to the same physical comparison, me and my last opponent, but I lost that one.

  • 12:52:40

    NNAMDIWell, competing on the athletic field is one thing, Christina, but many of these controversies involved accommodations for transgender athletes revolving around the locker room. Is that correct?

  • 12:52:52

    KAHRLOh, absolutely. And this is a hot button issue for so many people in so many ways because, of course, naturally, you know, and predictably, some of the scaremongering that has come from people who are critics of transpeople participating in any event or any sport, but also using sex-segregated facilities. I mean the way they're, like, fear mongering, again, over this.

  • 12:53:13

    KAHRLAnd to the point -- recently the Toronto Star did a story claiming that, you know, a transperson who was not, you know, was preoperative, had made no effort -- you know, like, really kind of -- they ran the story that somebody had written in complaining that they were at the YWCA and a non-operative transperson or whatever had come in and was using the women's locker room and was intimidating and accosting, like, women in the, like -- and it was completely fabricated.

  • 12:53:46

    KAHRLThe story was made up. As Kristen Williams from The Trans Advocate did a superb job of saying, like, no incident like this actually occurred, but people are so afraid of the notion that transpeople, like, in the locker room.

  • 12:53:58

    KAHRLAnd I think the thing would somehow be, like, somehow controversial, but the pushback I would make is that not only are people making this stuff up about transpeople and just flat out lying to support their position, but the other problem is that -- or the other thing that people need to realize is that transpeople -- hundreds of thousands of transpeople exist in this country. And a lot of them belong to gyms. And they've been using gyms. And they've been using restrooms. And there are no problems.

  • 12:54:24

    KAHRLYou know why? Because transpeople don't do these things that they're being accused of doing by people who, you know, really want scaremonger about us.

  • 12:54:30

    FOXYeah, I'd really like to see the statistics of people -- of transpeople who are actually accosting people in restrooms. I've never actually seen that.

  • 12:54:37

    NNAMDIFallon, you work in the world of mixed martial arts, which is, can we say, a very kind of macho masculine space. And by many account, it's been very hostile to you since you came out. I read one profile which describes a lot of very nasty taunts and opponents entering the ring to the Aerosmith song, "Dude Looks Like a Lady." On a certain level one has to ask, why do this? Why put yourself through all that?

  • 12:55:04

    FOXBecause I'm a fighter and that's what I do. Because I realized that in every minority group we have to go through the same thing. I don't know if many of your listeners have watched the movie "42," but he went through the same thing.

  • 12:55:20

    NNAMDIJackie Robinson.

  • 12:55:20

    FOXYou know, you just don't give up. Yes. You never quit. You just keep going no matter the bigotry and hatred that's mounted against you.

  • 12:55:28

    NNAMDIChristina, a lot of attention has been focused on the journalist who wrote the article. You mentioned his name earlier, Caleb Hannan, but the sports media world has raised some interesting questions about the editors at Grantland and whether they should have spiked the article. What are the editorial issues at play in that article?

  • 12:55:46

    KAHRLWell, I think they really should have, like, known to reach out to somebody in the trans community. When they realized that they had -- I mean, again, Caleb comes across this kind of information in doing his background research. And his response was wrong, but at what point, you know, should his editors have been in a position to step in a say, like, well, you know, you really shouldn't talk about that stuff or we should talk to somebody in the trans community.

  • 12:56:09

    KAHRLThe mistake that the editors at Grantland made is that, you know, effectively, and one of the things that's particularly frustrating to me as a teammate of theirs -- because we all work within the ESPN family -- is that nobody reached out to me particularly, just off the record, you know, like just give me a call.

  • 12:56:23

    KAHRLYou know, like we've got this story with somebody who's trans and, you know, like, could we bounce it off of you just to see what you say? Or they could have reached out to GLAD or they could have looked at like pointer.org, select, you know, guidelines on, you know, like, how to be a better or more effective ally. There are a lot of, you know, like, there's the benefit of having a trans person to talk to, which, you know like, again, I'm always happy to do with colleagues.

  • 12:56:45

    NNAMDINow, you ended up writing a piece on Grantland about this article, using it as a platform to talk a little bit about the trans community and you talk about people who live lives in what you call deep stealth. What does that mean?

  • 12:56:59

    KAHRLWell, in the case of SAN, and I think, again, she lived in stealth, which is that she didn't want to talk about being trans. She did not self-identify as trans. She was a woman and only wanted to be treated as such or recognized as such. And that kind of, you know, basic courtesy, I mean, to be treated that way is something that all of us would prefer or like. You know, like I -- one of the things that, you know like, would turn this around and point out that, you know, for all of the times that I've been on your show before you've never brought up the fact that I'm trans.

  • 12:57:29

    KAHRLThat, you know, I don't care if you do because I'm open about being trans, but because she was not, you wouldn't introduce her or talk about her being trans any more than you would talk about, you know, Fallon being African American or…

  • 12:57:41

    FOXRight.

  • 12:57:41

    KAHRL…Fallon just happens to be a fighter. She happens to be trans, but she happens to be African American. But the important thing to talk about with Fallon is that she's a woman and a fighter. And the case with me, and when you would have me on talking about baseball, you're only having me on to talk about baseball. And so you're talking about the fact that I'm a sports writer at Baseball Prospectus or ESPN.

  • 12:57:58

    NNAMDIMatter of fact the important thing about both of you is that you agreed to join us on this broadcast. Fallon Fox is a mixed-martial arts fighter. She's the first MMA fighter to come out as transgender. Christina Kahrl is baseball editor and columnist with ESPN.com, who's been, as she just mentioned, on this show many times with us. And today she was here to talk about her experiences as a transgender woman in sports media. Christina, Fallon, thank you both for joining us.

  • 12:58:23

    FOXThank you for having us.

  • 12:58:23

    KAHRLThank you, Kojo.

  • 12:58:24

    NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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