Monday • 2013.02.25
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.
“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.