Authored by columnist and associate editor Jennifer Graham, the piece argues in part that Jenner "would have headlined the tragic freak shows in carnivals of old." The piece predictably generated a shitstorm on social media and has been criticized for needlessly dehumanizing trans people.
Today, Human Rights Campaign foundation director Jay Brown penned a letter to P-G executive editor David Shribman calling the editorial "hate speech" and asking for Graham to be fired. Graham "not only failed to offer any information of value to your readership," the letter states, "she openly spewed lies and misinformation about transgender people—a community that disproportionately experiences harassment, unemployment, discrimination and violence."
Reached this afternoon, Shribman largely declined comment, saying he does not oversee the paper's editorial pages so he can remain an objective leader of the paper's news content. Of the decision to publish the editorial, Shribman says, “It simply is not my responsibility." He referred me to the P-G's editorial page editor Tom Waseleski, who did not immediately return a call.
But Waseleski has been responding to some readers. Several readers forwarded City Paper this response:
Thanks for sharing your opinion on Jennifer Graham's column. I appreciate hearing from readers, even when they disagree with a viewpoint they read in the Post-Gazette.
Obviously, she holds a strong conservative perspective on the matter — and the PG opinion pages are a forum for a broad range of viewpoints. While Jennifer's opinion may not reflect yours, it certainly speaks for others.
As an editor, I found Jennifer's piece well-written and worth publishing. I am not surprised that it would meet with strong reaction; various pieces in the Post-Gazette typically do. As to your point about violating AP style, we allow columnists occasional exceptions when the material warrants. For instance, Maureen Dowd routinely refers to George W. Bush as "W." We allow that, even though it violates the AP code.
Some readers have used this essay to accuse the PG of some sort of anti-gay perspective; they couldn't be more wrong. Just this Wednesday, we published an editorial cartoon by Rob Rogers that was pro-LGBTQIA. The newspaper's editorial position supports marriage for same-sex couples and advocates state and federal legislation to protect LGBTQIA individuals from discrimination. Last June, our news department published a series on people who are transgender — their joys and sorrows. You can look all this up.
I invite you to share your reaction with our readers by sending us a letter to the editor, 250 words or less, to email@example.com. Please include name, address and phone number for confirmation. We'd be glad to consider publishing your opinion, in the hopes of airing all viewpoints on this issue. Thanks again for writing.
Editorial Page Editor