The host of a high-profile Australian news show has offered a sincere apology after repeatedly saying ‘tranny’ and then being educated on how offensive the word is to many people.
Karl Stefanovic is a presenter of breakfast show Today on Australia’s Channel Nine network.
On Thursday morning he repeatedly used the word ‘tranny’. A Channel Nine crew had reported being mugged when they arrived in Rio to cover the Olympics, and Stefanovic focused on the fact that the muggers were ‘trannies’ – although it’s not clear if this means they were transvestite or transgender.
Stefanovic thought it amusing that one of the Channel’s cameramen had been robbed by a ‘tranny’, and made several references to the film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert during the segment.
‘The other thing is Chris,’ he said via video link to the female reporter also caught up in the incident. ‘I know that you have gone to see the police about this tranny. We have a confit made up and we know they don’t all look the same. Is that the tranny they are talking about it?’
A ‘Wanted’ poster was then flashed on the screen featuring the actor Hugo Weaving as a drag queen in the Priscilla movie.
The segment was also accompanied by a snippet of Gloria Gaynor’s song, ‘I Will Survive’.
Today, clearly after being informed that ‘tranny’ is an offensive and derogatory word to many in the trans community and beyond, Stefanovic offered a sincere apology for his words.
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) July 28, 2016
‘As we all know, I can be a complete tool, right? Well, yesterday I was worse – I was an ignorant tool.
‘I pride myself, in my own weird way, of being across things. Yesterday I wasn’t. Yesterday, I got it very wrong. I used a word which I will now say for the last time ever. And I’m only using it because all of you who didn’t see the segment yesterday can also learn from my mistake, if you choose to.
‘By using the word “tranny”, I offended an awful lot of beautiful and sensitive people. I honestly didn’t know the negative and deeply hurtful impact that word has, not only on members of the LGBTQI community, but on their family and their friends.
‘Because I know trans people are fun-loving, life-celebrating people I actually assumed they might laugh along with me, I assumed wrong.
‘Do you even know what LGBTQI stands for? I didn’t. I do now’
‘Be honest just for a second everyone at home, do you even know what LGBTQI stands for? I didn’t. I do now. It stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and intersex: an incredibly diverse community who I’m very, very sorry I caused hurt to.
‘I have no understanding of what it’s like to feel you are born in the wrong body, to feel uncomfortable in your own skin, or the extreme courage it takes to accept yourself and live the life you have always wanted to live.’
He concluded by saying that Australia needs to do more to embrace diversity and unite.
‘Given the events of the last year, now more than ever, we need to educate ourselves, laugh together and embrace each other’s differences, and live with tolerance, compassion and most of all love and respect for everyone.’
Some people on social media have questioned Stefanovic’s decision to apologize, but the majority of comments have praised him for realizing he’d done wrong.
Corey Sinclair, editor of Sydney’s LGBT newspaper Star Observer, called the apology, ‘refreshing and heartfelt,’ reports BBC.
‘Karl seems to have taken on board what people have been saying and acknowledged the damage his comments caused … I think it takes a big person to admit when they’re wrong. Hopefully it has made others aware that sort of language is simply unacceptable.’
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