NBC Sports' Michelle Beadle used the T-word in a tweet to describe an encounter she had with someone at a store. The tweet read, "A tr***y in a leopard coat just scolded me in the cheese section. It must mean something. #symbolic"
Beadle's Twitter profile reads, "Make me laugh. Don't be an ass. That is all. Oh, and dogs rule!" Sounds like good advice.
GLAAD was alerted to the tweet, and, per our regular practice, we reached out directly to Beadle. We don’t make assumptions as to why someone uses the word. Some think they get a pass because their friends use it. Still others want to use it to shock their listeners/followers. Often, people don’t realize what a slur that particular word is. That's why we reach out: to inform and educate.
After email conversation with Beadle and others at NBC, Beadle posted an apology on Twitter.
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) December 17, 2013
It was particularly important to reach out to Beadle because she is a reporter for NBC Sports, which has exclusive coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. NBC has been under intense pressure to report fully and accurately on the LGBT and human rights abuses taking place within the country. It is possible that Beadle will be one of those reporters, speaking with the US delegation that includes two openly gay athletes.
And while there are no openly transgender athletes at Sochi, there has been an increase in the number of openly transgender athletes in general. In 2011, collegiate basketball player Kye Allums came out as transgender, as did fellow basketball player Gabrielle Ludwig in 2012. This year, Fallon Fox became the first transgender mixed-martial arts (MMA) fighter, and just last month, Stephen Alexander came out as a transgender high school basketball coach.
Transgender people in sports will continue to gain visibility in the coming days and years. Their stories deserve to be told with sensitivity and respect. We call on all media to learn more about transgender people and report their stories respectfully.