Bil Browning

Texting Boston trolley driver is transman

Filed By Bil Browning | May 13, 2009 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Aidan Quinn, Boston, FTM, transgender, transmen

The texting trolley driver that caused an accident in Boston is transgender. Forty six people were injured in the crash. He was texting his girlfriend at the time of the collision.

Aidan_Quinn.jpg...Aidan Quinn, is a female-to-male transsexual, according to a May 11 ABC News story.

The ABC News item reported that Quinn had been hired as a minority on the basis of his transition to male from female [sic], even though his driving record showed that Quinn had been issued three tickets for speeding.

The ABC News story also notes that the 24-year-old Quinn had referred to himself as one of the first transsexual employees to be hired by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which oversees the subway system.

The best part? The Boston subway/trolley system is locally referred to as "The T." Seriously.

(Thanks to Projector Rory for the tip)


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Hopefully this will result in a ban on using cell phones while driving.

Ha! We already have a law banning cellphone use while driving here in NJ and it works about as well to curb cellphone use as speed limits do to curb speeding, if you know what I mean.

Every new car sold in the US should come equipped with the tech for hands-free cellphone use. It should be as standard as seatbelts. It's not like the tech isn't out there.

Yeah, but he was texting... Hands free texting will be a cute trick. ;)

Hm. You're right. But something tells me this wasn't the first time he did this.

Even hands-free, those people still are distracted. I see them when I drive in the US - usually they're the ones who don't know who has the right of way and run a stop sign because they aren't paying attention.

I see them when I walk in the US. A week and a half ago a person backed into me while jabbering away on the phone. She overshot the crosswalk when the light changed and oblivious to the world backed right into me. Never put the phone down. I doubt that a hands free kit would have made any difference.

eastsidekate | May 13, 2009 11:08 AM

Yeah, this is a fun story. Do we get: "one of 10 transit drivers found guilty of texting while driving is trans"? No, because that would be a non-story. Instead we get the whole "crazed transsexual hired due to special treatment" angle. Lovely.

I noticed that too, Kate. WTF is up with the "he was hired as a minority hire?" Isn't that like the whole "Well, he's not as qualified, but he's black..." bullshit that gets called "reverse racism" when it's just meant to truly make the person not-as-equal or qualified?

Bil, that is exactly how it is being played in the comments section on the ABC News site--as an "object lesson" on what is wrong with affirmative action. Interestingly, most of the posters there claim not to care that the guy is trans, they just are spreading the lies about how affirmative action works. AA could be the deciding factor between EQUALLY qualified applicants, but would not cause someone unqualified to get a transit job--that is not how it works. Frankly, I am not even sure that the transit authority's AA policy is, but this is in MA, where state anti-discrimination laws don't even COVER gender identity and expression, so I am skeptical of the claim that Quinn even was an AA hire (unless it was for some other reason). To be fair to ABC, Quinn *did* open himself up to this kind of criticism when he put it up on his profile (MySpace, I think) that he is one of the first transsexual employees to be hired by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

To Quinn: When you decide to make yourself a Poster Child for equal employment, you are taking on the responsibility of holding yourself to a higher standard; your mistakes will be held up by those who would deny equal employment opportunities to hurt not just you, but those who come after you. Texting while driving is JUST PLAIN STUPID AND DANGEROUS. You could have killed someone, dumbass.

Anyone see a problem with this? Lets do some editing:

"Texting Boston trolley driver is a black man."
"Texting Boston trolley driver is gay man."
"Texting Boston trolley driver is a Jew."

Yeah, no kidding. I noticed this on Monday evening, when one of the four major networks here (I'm in Boston) reported this in a teaser and didn't follow up. Yesterday afternoon, I looked through the four major networks' and two major newspapers' websites and found that three of the outlets mentioned the transgender angle.

Two of them made it their lede. Predictably, it was the Murdoch-clone-owned Boston Herald and the FOX affiliate.

I fail to see how Quinn's gender or operative status makes any difference to his public transit driving ability.

At any rate, I blogged it briefly yesterday, in case anybody's interested:

http://journoboston.blogspot.com/2009/05/not-every-detail-is-relevant.html

BTW, semi-off topic---Did anyone else notice that both Quinn and the co-pilot of the plane that crashed in upstate NY were only 24 years old? Maybe its just a sign that I am getting old, but that just seems awfully young to me to have the necessary training and experience for the job.

Rebecca_B | May 13, 2009 6:25 PM

I'm 29 and 24 seems young to me but maybe it's because I couldn't imagine flying a plane or driving a trolley car (I used to live in Boston with the T as my main transportation -- trolleys and subway cars are no joke when it comes to the damage they can do. And seems most accidents are/were the driver's fault so adding texting drivers to the mix seems like a really bad idea...)

I don't understand how you could write this short little blurb so casually, without any mention of the completely transphobic and discriminatory way in which the story has been covered in the media....what are you reporting if not the sensationalist and homophobic coverage? Merely the fact he's trans? I'm really disappointed in you - I would expect slightly more aware and in depth reporting. For those who care enough to take action, I've linked to the articles here and would encourage you to write them with your objections: http://yum-and-yuk.blogspot.com/2009/05/irresponsible-reporting-in-boston.html

Sarah, how dare you question this! Bil has graciously given the transcommunity a platform. We are lucky! I mean, golly gosh!

I don't understand how you could write this short little blurb so casually...

Mostly because I only had about 5 minutes to put up the post before jumping into a long meeting that's lasted most of the day. I haven't even had a chance to check in on the site since tossing off that last comment in the thread. (Notice my other post for this morning was a simple video post with like 2 or 3 sentences - both written around 8am this morning.)

Besides, I don't think it's my job to point everything out. That gets boring. A lot of times the comments on posts are more interesting to read than the original post. :) It makes a better discussion with others adding to the conversation with good points like yours.

ED NOTE: This comment has been deleted for Terms of Service violation.

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Aidan's gender issues should not be a part of this story. He deserves the same investigation and penalties anyone guilty of his offense should be. I have no tolerance for gender-based prejudice, but also have no tolerance for the use of cellphones, even hands-off, while driving. The typical American driver lacks basic driving and car control skills to start with, and most cannot even drive a stick (which should be a required skill), and talking on phone, let alone texting, is too distracting while at the wheel. Daily, I see boobus Americanus driving distractedly and mindlessly in their SUVs, while paying no attention to the world around them.

Exactly. But I'd add, why not use it as a part of the story... it was done here, on a "GLBT" blog. If our own media doesn't adhere to this standard, why should the MSM?

I just found this, via Twitter & wanted to pass it on (goes back to my earlier comment--which is now lost up-thread).

Via http://www.masstpc.org/?p=405

Additionally, a statement released by the MBTA asserts that there are no hiring practices that afford special status to people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

“Due to an inaccurate ABC News report, the MBTA has received numerous inquiries about the procedures under which trolley operator Aiden Quinn was hired. Contrary to the ABC News report, Quinn did not make any claims that would afford him special status. Like everyone else who seeks employment as a trolley operator at the MBTA, Quinn entered the job lottery (2004). His number came up in 2007, and he was hired that summer. There was nothing unusual or out of the ordinary about his hiring.”

If he'd merely been gay - does anyone think that this would even have been mentioned?

Does anyone believe that a storm would have erupted about the wisdom or otherwise of hiring Gays or Lesbians in such "sensitive positions"?

This is just a reminder that when something like ENDA comes up, and trans people make a claim that they're victimised considerably worse than most GLBTs, and deserve rather more resources than has been put into their cause in the past, that they just might have a point.

Maybe, Zoe, though I'm not totally sure of that. I remember it coming out in the press that Robert Sanchez (the engineer in the Sept. 2008 fatal train crash in CA.) was gay with a troubled past, and had possibly not been on the ball with paying attention. Albeit I'm not sure how deep the criticism went in that case.

Massachutsetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) sent out a message in regards to how the general media has sensationalized this story. This has nothing to do with Aiden's gender or sex.
------------------------
Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) condemns the media’s use of MBTA employee’s transgender status to sensationalize coverage

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) urges media to maintain journalistic integrity when reporting on T operator Aiden Quinn who stands accountable for the crash. It would be irresponsible for media to imply that a person’s gender identity is the cause for this terrible accident. Anything related to his gender identity would be irrelevant and further perpetuate unnecessary sensationalism. Future coverage should focus on the accident itself and how the authorities plan to hold Mr. Quinn accountable for his actions.

Media outlets should be reporting on the facts of the case and not using sensationalistic coverage of a person’s gender identity or former name when neither has a bearing on the case. Furthermore, editorial guidelines from leading media style books such as The Associated Press and The New York Times make it clear that reporters should be using the pronouns of how a transgender person refers to themselves and lives publicly. Reporters should also only refer to a person’s transgender status, former name, and/or former pronouns when it is relevant to the facts of a story and its pertinence is clear to the reader.

Additionally, a statement released by the MBTA asserts that there are no hiring practices that afford special status to people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

“Due to an inaccurate ABC News report, the MBTA has received numerous inquiries about the procedures under which trolley operator Aiden Quinn was hired. Contrary to the ABC News report, Quinn did not make any claims that would afford him special status. Like everyone else who seeks employment as a trolley operator at the MBTA, Quinn entered the job lottery (2004). His number came up in 2007, and he was hired that summer. There was nothing unusual or out of the ordinary about his hiring.”

MTPC strongly urges media outlets to cease and desist from using inflammatory or disrespectful terminology with regards to reporting on transgender individuals; undergo transgender cultural competency training; and follow editorial guidelines that are consistent with the recommendations of the AP style guide and the GLAAD Media Reference Guide with regards to reporting on the transgender individuals.

If you would like more information please contact Gunner Scott at 617-778-0519 or via email at gscott@masstpc.org. The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is dedicated to ending discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. We envision a world where persons of all genders are treated with respect and fully participate in all areas of society, free from fear of prohibition, harassment or violence based on their gender identity and/or expression.

Carol Anne | May 18, 2009 8:58 AM

Anyone who has a social networking page is going to have it used by the media, mainstream and not, for background information. It's not private.

If Georgia Quinn's bad driving record was hidden from the MBTA when Aiden Quinn was hired that seems relevant to the story.