E. Winter Tashlin

Hold SiriusXM & Clear Channel Accountable For Anti-Trans* Hate

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | June 06, 2013 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Clear Channel, Cristan Williams, hate speech, Lex & Terry, Patrick Reilly, SiriusXM, TransAdvocate, transphobia

Over on The TransAdvocate yesterday, Cristan Williams reported on a recent broadcast of the syndicated radio show Lex & Terry in which the hosts blatantly supported the murder of trans* people. The program is carried, among other places, by SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

After reading Cristan's excellent piece, I contacted SiriusXM for a statement on the situation. This led to a phone call with SiriusXM Senior VP Patrick Reilly, who has also been in touch with Cristan and other members of the LGBT media.
As it happens, the show in question isn't a production of SiriusXM, but rather is broadcast under a lease agreement with Clean Channel Communications. During our call, Mr. Reilly seemed legitimately distressed over the whole incident, or at least how it reflected on his company, and actively sought to distance his employer from Clear Channel, which has thus far not responded to my request for comment.

Of course, all Mr. Reilly's assurances of non-involvement aside, the disgusting and hateful message in question was broadcast by SiriusXM across the nation and beyond. It may be a bit much to ask the LGBT community simply overlook that unfortunate truth.

As of writing this post at 4am EST, SiriusXM has yet to post an official press release to their website distancing themselves from this disgraceful incident, and neither for that matter has Clear Channel Communication.

It is virtually impossible to imagine for one moment that had Lex & Terry glorified, or even endorsed the murder of gay people, rather than trans people, the whole situation wouldn't have evolved very differently. Not only would there have been far more coverage of this story in the LGBT media, it would almost certainly have been picked up by mainstream news outlets. There can be no doubt that more than two days after the incident, both Clear Channel and SiriusXM would have long since publicly disavowed the statements made on the show.

SiriusXM and Clear Channel Communication both have an HRC Corporate Equality Index (CEI) score of %75. They each score nearly perfectly on the fields related to sexual orientation, including health benefits, diversity training, targeted marketing, etc. Both corporations do also have trans*-inclusive anti-discrimination policies, and SiriusXM requires sexual orientation and gender identity diversity training, while Clear Channel offers the training but doesn't make it mandatory. Neither company has anything remotely approaching trans*-inclusive medical coverage, although Clear Channel does pay for mental health counseling, which is more than SiriusXM does.

What we can take away from the above information is that neither of these companies are an ExxonMobil (CIE Score: zero). However, both have demonstrated, first through corporate policy, and now through silence, that in their eyes the lives of trans* people simply don't matter.

After all, we aren't talking about a muttered "no homo" during a press conference here. Lex & Terry literally advocated for the death of trans* people on the grounds of their gender identity/medical history, and the two companies responsible for spreading that message of hate have remained largely quiet.

There is no doubt that apologies are owed for the hurt this sort of rhetoric causes, and I suspect that we'll have those apologies sooner rather than later. But as a community, we shouldn't be salved by a simple apology.

SiriusXM and Clear Channel should make meaningful steps to right this wrong. A commitment to institute the trans*-supportive measures that would raise their CEI to 100 would be a good place to start. Beyond that though, a donation from each company to a trans* advocacy or support organization would go a long way towards redressing the inescapable impression that in their eyes, while it's not ok to endorse anti-gay hate speech, brutal transphobia is still ok.

Update #3: Although Clear Channel won't confirm that Lex & Terry have been dropped from their station, comments on the show's Facebook page seem to indicate that it is the case

Update #2: GLAAD has announced that Lex & Terry will be making a formal appology and working with the LGBT media advocacy organization to find a "way to meaningfully address the issue of anti-transgender violence on the air"

Update: The awesome folk over at the Gender Justice League have created a Change.org petition calling on Clear Channel to issue an appology.


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