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Anger over ‘transphobic’ columnist

PinkNews Staff Writer July 14, 2009
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Dozens of members of the Queer Youth Network have written to complain about Sun columnist Jon Gaunt, who described gender reassignment as “misguided” and “slightly sick”.

The LGBT youth organisation has also lodged a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission.

The article in question focused on Kim Petras, the German 16-year-old trans singer. She underwent gender reassigment a year ago, having fought to have the law changed. Usually, only those over the age of 18 are permitted to undergo the surgery.

Columnist and radio presenter Jon Gaunt described her as “sad and slightly sick”. He went on to describe her gender reassignment surgery as “drastic body mutiliation” and compared her with Michael Jackson.

In a subsequent SunTalk radio show, Gaunt spoke to Erica Davies, the Sun journalist who first interviewed Kim.

Davies explained that Kim had felt she was “trapped in the wrong body” since the age of two, adding that the “bright” teenager was accepted by her family.

Gaunt said he had no problem with those over the age of 18 undergoing gender reassignment but was “not comfortable” with a child having the procedure, saying it could set “a dangerous precedent”.

He added: “I’d love to get Kim on the show but after what I’ve just said, she probably won’t come in.”

David Henry, of the Queer Youth Network, has said Gaunt should apologise.

He said: “We accept The Sun is a tabloid newspaper and celebrity gossip mixed with sensationalism is part of what it does best, however demeaning and dehumanising young people in this manner is absolutely unacceptable and potentially damaging to thousands of people, many of whom have strikingly similar experiences to those of Kim Petras.

“Transgender people and those who do not conform to gender norms experience more than their fair share of ridicule and social torment in their every days lives as it is – we do not need this continued abusive onslaught from the mainstream media.

“We accept many people will not be surprised by this offensive and inaccurate comments made by Jon Gaunt in this article, but as Britain’s most read-newspaper we would like to hear at least an acknowledgement from the editor of the upset this has caused our community by printing one of the many letters sent in by our members, if not a full apology from Jon Gaunt himself.”

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