Rapport has issued an apology for having recently published transphobic statements. Sadly, the begrudging declaration of regret is deeply underwhelming.
On 16 February, the newspaper’s Pollux Se Pruttelpraatjies column commented on a recent statement by US Democratic Party presidential hopeful, Elizabeth Warren. She said she’d consult with Jacob Lemay, a transgender boy, before choosing the Secretary of Education, if she is elected president.
The column ridiculed her intention to seek advice from “a child who thinks he/she is a different gender than suggested by objective evidence,” adding that the youth “can’t decide if she is Trompie Toerien or Saartjie Baumann [a boy or girl].”
After a complaint was lodged with the Press Ombudsman by the Same Love campaign, editor Waldimar Pelser told Mambaonline that the newspaper would publish an apology this past Sunday.
The apology, however, was something of a damp squib. While the newspaper admitted that the comments had “caused an upset,” it then simply said that “Rapport’s portrayal of the child was inappropriate and we apologise to our readers.”
There was no context about what was inappropriate and it was a far cry from the request by Same Love for Rapport to publish an article “on the scientific evidence available on the transgender community and evidence of the discrimination they face in order to correct the harmful misrepresentations they have perpetuated.”
Same Love expressed their disappointment at the newspaper’s apology. “The weak apology published by Rapport does not adequately address the harm caused by their malicious comments directed at a child; and how it contributes to a climate of transphobia,” it said in a statement to MambaOnline.
“There is no acknowledgement of the damage the perpetuation of false ideas regarding the transgender community as confused or looking for attention causes, as well as their blatant denial of the validity of transgender individuals.”
The Same Love campaign, which was created by Sasha-Lee Heekes and Megan Watling, the engaged same-sex couple who were turned away by the Beloftebos wedding venue in Stanford, will not withdraw the complaint to the Press Ombudsman.
“We will, therefore, approach the Press Council to continue this matter and we encourage Rapport and Netwerk24 to approach us so that an amicable outcome can be arrived at,” they added.
They further urged members of the LGBTQIA+ community to tweet them, including @rapportsa in their tweets, or message them on Instagram or Facebook to “share their thoughts on this matter with us.”