Oops, Alessandra Stanley Misgendered the Lead Character of Transparent


In a review of Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards, New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley, the same whose article on Shonda Rhimes caused a rightful shitstorm, made a major error in misgendering the lead character of Amazon’s hit series Transparent.

Slate called out the oops in a piece today, “Alessandra Stanley’s Troubling Reaction to Transparent’s Golden Globe Wins,” while also pointing out how strange it is that Stanley considers both Transparent‘s win for best comedy and Jeffrey Tambor’s for best actor (he plays the lead character Maura) a politically correct one.

I haven’t seen this show, but the general consensus is that it’s groundbreaking partially because it’s enlightening people on how to speak about transgender identity without insulting the individual and the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, Stanley missed the memo. She writes:

The Sony cyberattack revealed that Hollywood isn’t exactly a profile in courage, but it is an industry that rewards politically correct free speech. “Transparent,” the Amazon.com series about a transgender man who comes out to his family as a woman, won best comedy and the best actor award for its star, Jeffrey Tambor. He dedicated his performance to transgender people.

Is the subtext that Hollywood disingenuously rewarded shows that push boundaries? Slate’s J. Bryan Lowder responds:

Even if we forgive this weirdly hostile presentation, it’s difficult to be as accommodating with the next line, which blatantly misgenders Maura, a character who is, in point of fact, a transgender woman. As regular Outward readers will know, we are rarely interested in the kinds of hypersensitive language policing that can come from certain corners of the LGBTQ community—but this gaffe is ridiculous. Anyone who has seen even an episode of Transparent (and Stanely definitely has), or who knows the first thing about trans identity, will understand that one of the central motivations for coming out as trans (and perhaps physically transitioning, as Maura does over the course of the series) is the hope that one will then be referred to as the correct gender. Maura is a woman—indeed, as she so eloquently explains in one episode, she has always been a woman, albeit hidden in a sort of societally imposed male drag—and referring to her as a “transgender man” is both ignorant and disrespectful.

There’s also this strange wording in the NYT article in reference to Gina Rodriguez’s speech:

A newcomer, Gina Rodriguez, the star of “Jane the Virgin,” on CW, won best actress in a television comedy, and she took it as a validation of her Hispanic roots, saying she represents a culture that wants heroes.

What Rodriguez said, breathlessly on stage, was: “This award is so much more than myself. It represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes. My father used to tell me to say every morning, ‘Today’s a great morning. I can and I will.’ Well, dad, today’s a great day. I can and I did.” Meaning, her culture already has plenty of heroes and wants to see that spectrum represented as it should be in Hollywood. Stanley’s piece boils down to some uninformed semantics, but the specifics make a difference in what should be a nonstop push for better and more nuanced diversity.

The New York Times has since issued a correction in the article:

Image via Getty

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