Christin Milloy:

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London Community News Pokes Fun at Transgender Youth Council Candidate on Medical Leave for SRS


Kaylie Sorrenti, a young heroine in London, Ontario, is currently vying for a seat on London’s Youth Advisory Council (LYAC). She’s running on a platform which includes, among other things, better acceptance of diversity in London.

Kaylie Sorrenti, Candidate for London Youth Advisory Council

“I come from a (youth advocacy) background, and run a weekly support group for (trans*-identified adolescents) who have issues with suicidal ideation, substance abuse, homelessness, and other societal and mental health issues,” she writes on the facebook page for her campaign. “If I get elected, I will work vigilantly to reduce bullying in the education system, reducing youth suicide, increasing awareness of mental health issues, and the promotion of youth job programs, social services, homeless shelters scholarship programs to help youth reach their full potential in life.” You can watch Kaylie’s application video here.

Driven and passionate, Kaylie cares deeply for the opportunity that a seat on the LYAC would provide her to communicate the needs of the youth in her community to London’s city Councillors. It was this passion she sought to bring to the LYAC candidates’ debate on February 13th, but there was one slight snag: Kaylie is running her campaign remotely, from Bangkok, Thailand, where she is presently recovering from Sex Reassignment Surgery. From her hospital room, she recently recorded and published a tearful ‘It Gets Better’ video to help guide other trans* youth.

Incredibly, despite the long and painful recovery process, Kaylie is still committed to seizing the opportunity to help her community which she feels the seat on LYAC would bring. To surmount the challenge of geographic distance, Kaylie worked with LYAC debate organizers to accommodate her medical leave, and made arrangements to deliver her speech via a Skype video conference.

Unfortunately, London Community News reporter Craig Gilbert was not impressed with this measure of accommodation. Despite affording five, four, and three paragraphs respectively to a trio of cis male candidates, and finally two paragraphs to a cis female candidate, he then gives Kaylie’s speech only a passing, flippant mention. Speaking of technical difficulties, he wrote, “a fifth candidate joined the forum via Skype (she was in Bangkok) but technical difficulties rendered her point mute, pun intended.” Gilbert failed even to mention Ms Sorrenti by name. Trust me, as a past and future candidate for public office, that’s a painful omission to have a journalist make. It’s also usually deliberate.

Infuriatingly, Craig Gilbert apparently believes that the sheer wit of his crack at Sorrenti’s expense constitutes sufficient justification for entirely abandoning any vestige of journalistic integrity—because, in publishing his little bon mot, Gilbert has committed the cardinal sin of journalism: reporting falsehood as fact. In fact, Kaylie’s speech, though delivered over Skype from Thailand, was hardly ‘rendered mute.’ According to Matt Ross, coordinator of LYAC, although the conclusion of Kaylie’s speech suffered an unexplained audio drop-off in the final ten seconds, the majority of her oratory came through loud and clear. If Mr. Gilbert found any part of it unintelligible, he could have done the responsible thing and gotten in touch with Ms Sorrenti, whose contact information was available to him.

One wonders what it was specifically that so disinterested reporter Craig Gilbert about Ms Sorrenti that he saw fit to banish any mention of her name or platform from his article, and to ridicule the measure of accommodation which LYAC gracefully provided in order to allow her participation in the debate despite the challenges imposed by her recovery from surgery abroad. Was it her diversity-embracing platform itself, or could it have been some other factor he found amusing?

To be fair to reporter Craig Gilbert, he doesn’t make specific mention of Sorrenti’s gender identity, nor any acknowledgement of her medical leave as the reason for the Skype conference. However, according to Sorrenti he was well aware of the details at the time.

One can’t help but wonder, would Mr. Gilbert have berated a candidate in a wheelchair for failing to rise to the occasion? Or, if a candidate had given their speech through a Sign Language interpreter, would he quip that the audience follow-up questions fell on deaf ears? It is unlikely that such an insensitive joke made at the expense of measures accommodating a Deaf or disabled person, in a journalistic piece no less, would be tolerated. So why has the London Community News tolerated this tasteless mockery of LYAC’s measure accommodating Kaylie’s medical leave for Sex Reassignment Surgery?

Help Kaylie Sorrenti:

You can express your dissatisfaction by contacting Metroland Media, the owners of London Community News.

Reporter Craig Gilbert also has a professional email address, lacking only, apparently, the professionalism to match.

LYAC’s election day is March 1st. Online Voting is available to all residents of London, Ontario: cast your vote online at lyac.ca.

UPDATE: To clarify some concerns raised by a reader, I want to make it clear that Kaylie Sorrenti provided her personal details for this article, that she read it prior to publication, and that she gave her consent.

UPDATE 2: An earlier version of this article contained a an inaccurate reference to “social work” background. This has been adjusted to “youth advocacy” for greater accuracy and clarity.

 

12 Comments

  1. Sean
    Monday, 2013.02.25 at 23:18

    Thank you for bringing attention to this issue. ALL the candidates deserve fair representation.
    But i’m going to play devil’s advocate here…
    Is it possible that Mr. Gilbert’s poor attempt at humour and not mentioning Ms. Sorrenti or her platform was just lazy journalism and nothing more? While i believe Kaylie should have been fairly represented, how are we to assume this may be intentional discrimination and not just a crappy writer writing for a crappy online news source?

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Tuesday, 2013.02.26 at 10:11

      You may very well be right, but if so, then he “carelessly” mocked a measure of accommodation for someone on medical leave for a sensitive issue. Unintentional discrimination is still discrimination.

      Christin

      • Tuesday, 2013.02.26 at 11:38

        As someone who has run on a platform of “diversity-embracing” equality in provincial and national elections, I have to agree with you. Discrimination is discrimination, it doesn’t matter whether it was intended as such or not. I, for one amongst many, applaud Ms. Sorrenti. It’s unfortunate that this article will likely be one in a long line of such poor media coverage… but I believe she has the strength and ideals it will take to continue holding her head high and fighting for what’s right. Politics, especially clean and decent politics, is not an easy road, Kaylie has my support!

      • Sean
        Tuesday, 2013.02.26 at 12:36

        Thank you for the response, Christin! I completely agree with your point… unintentional discrimination is still discrimination.
        But your article implies Mr. Gilbert’s omission was intentional to the fact that Ms. Sorrenti is transgender. You did not mention in the article but was Mr. Gilbert contacted for comment on his error? And by his own account, aware that the absence was for medical reasons?

        Sorry to play devil’s advocate again… but even if Mr. Gilbert may not practice it, all parties should have fair and equal representation. Thank you again for the article and bringing attention to Ms. Sorrenti’s platform.

  2. Andrew
    Tuesday, 2013.02.26 at 00:08

    I like how this article insinuates that the reporter is prejudiced just because he’s a douche. That’s quality reporting which isn’t under handed or reprehensible at all.

  3. Tuesday, 2013.02.26 at 10:03

    Also: “technical difficulties rendered her point mute, pun intended.”
    The word is moot not mute, thus rendering the “pun” unintelligible.

  4. Jennifer Wouters
    Tuesday, 2013.02.26 at 11:44

    The link provided enables me to RUN for the LYAC, but does not seem to have a way to let Londoners vote. Just thought you should know.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Tuesday, 2013.02.26 at 19:03

      The online voting does not open until March 1st.

      Kaylie will post a link to the online voting system on her platform’s facebook page. You can check there:

      http://www.facebook.com/Kayliesorrenti

      Christin

  5. Liz
    Wednesday, 2013.02.27 at 22:15

    Thank you Christin for drawing attention to this. I really do hope it’s simply a case of terrible journalism, although unfortunately I doubt it. Also, I agree with Joan- I’m still trying to puzzle out that pun!

  6. Lyndon H. McNamee
    Thursday, 2013.04.11 at 15:21

    I was there at the live event, and I’ve known Kaylie Sorrenti for a better part of a decade, since the fourth grade. (I am now 19). We were close friends for a long long time, and for the longest time I was here line of support in her discovery of her sexual identity.Despite the misrepresentation by Craig Gilbert, I cannot say that Kaylie should be given any sort of position at all. Throughout the years I’ve known her she has always and consistently proven herself to be unreliable, irresponsible, and undisciplined in matters both personal and professional. In highschool I was the one who advocated to the vice principle to allow her to go to a school out of her district. I and many, many others have done all in our power to help her, but she has always been unwilling to help herself. She is the last person I would ever want given the responsibility of helping other LGBT students.

  7. MacKenzie
    Saturday, 2013.04.27 at 08:11

    I feel compelled to respond to the biased remarks of Mr. McNamee in the above post. What he does not mention in his verbal assault on Kaylie’s character is that he was the main campaign supporter for another candidate that eventually lost to Kaylie. Kaylie did get elected to the Advisory Committee. As for his claims of support of her gender identity, I ask one question of Mr. McNamee. Where were you DURING Kaylie’s transition? Oh never mind, I already know the answer.

    • Kaylie Sorrenti
      Thursday, 2013.05.02 at 21:19

      Thank you Mackenzie for your support. It is true, I have won the election and I am very happy that I had so much support from the community. I have already connected and attended Advisory Committee meetings, and presented ideas that will benefit the council in terms of visibility and outreach. During my campaign, I received many remarks from people both via private message and public forum that tried to smear my credibility. I ensure you, as I ensure all people who supported me; I invest a large portion of my time trying to create much needed changes in our city’s community and addressing the needs of all people in this city. In September, when my term begins, I will be hosting a local event to meet me and have your chance to bring up local issues affecting the livelihood of youth in London. I would be honoured if you attended.

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Christin Milloy