Kaos GL: When the perpetrator is trans, the media is ready to lynch

Newspapers use wording that triggers transphobic hate and prejudice while covering an incident in Samsun, involving a group of men and a person who is stated to be transgender.

Source: Aslı Alpar, “Fail trans olunca medya attı tuttu bir asmadığı kaldı!”, Kaos GL, December 15, 2017, http://kaosgl.org/sayfa.php?id=25094

“Youngster attacked by a transvestite with razor barely survives”, “Tran-slash-tite”, “Slasher transvestite now roams free”, “Transvestite terror”…These headlines today are from the coverage of the incident in Samsun which involves a group of men and a person who is stated to be a transgender individual.

Transphobia starts with headlines

The newspapers have interpreted the incident through a transphobic lens starting with the headlines. Local newspapers in Samsun, Vitrin Haber, Gazete Arena and Korkusuz preferred to use the headline “Youngster attacked by a transvestite with razor barely survives”. Takvim used a completely transphobic headline “Tran-slash-tite” while Milliyet wrote “Transvestite who assaulted an 18 year old in the middle of the street in Samsun was caught”. Şok made its own mis-en-scene and wrote “Transvestite bully was caught and restrained” and Haber Samsun chose to go classical with the headline “Transvestite terror”.

It was only Altınova daily which did not state the gender identity of the perpetrator on the headline and wrote “Knife attack in Samsun”. The same newspaper also stated that the incident happened “due to reasons yet unknown”.

‘Only a stare’?

All but one daily preferred to report the incident with phrases such as “while [the assaulted] was walking on the street”, “while [the assaulted] was walking home from work”, “the youngster who was beaten up in the middle of the street” and continued: “18 year old youngster was attacked by a person who is yet unidentified but known to be a transvestite with a knife, after [he] stared [at the assailant]”.

The statement that the person who is reported to be transgender attacked the person mentioned after ‘ a stare’ is highly concerning. Because the hate attacks targeting LGBTI individuals are often serviced in media as ‘merely a fight’, ‘merely a stare’. It is a partial approach to reporting to ignore the transphobia existing in society and to report the incident as resulting from a mere ‘stare’ between a group of men and a person stated to be transgender.

Transphobia at every opportunity

Ignoring the disadvantages of the group identity of the perpetrator or the victim of the incident might omit the fact that prejudice may have triggered the incident. Moreover, the newspapers foster the prejudice by highlighting the gender identity of the perpetrator and stigmatize all trans individuals as ‘crime machines’.

These news articles, at every opportunity, express hatred against trans individuals who are never covered in the news aside from violent incidents. Similarly, these stories are not written to inform the reader about the incident but to cater to transphobic hate.

Might the prejudice have triggered the incident?

Kaos GL Association’s report entitled “The prosecution of hate crimes” stresses that many hate crimes are reflected as “merely a fight”:

“Many hate crimes take place during incidents which have other triggers such as ‘traffic fights’, arguments about boundaries between neighboring property or arguments about noise. These motives might turn into crimes motivated by racism and other prejudices as the incident unravels.”

Released on judicial control

The news outlets indicate that the transgender perpetrator was caught, gave testimony at the prosecutor’s office, and was released on judicial control condition. A local daily, Hedef Halk, reported the development as “Slasher transvestite now roams free”.

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