Corporate Media’s Fogel Folly on Transgender Abuse

In the fall of 2015, the corporate press ignored the abuse faced by the transgender community to discuss the potential crimes of a man made famous for losing weight.
Jared Fogel at Army Base
Photo Credit by Fort Bragg via flickr

The corporate press continues to distract from news worthy stories by feeding the public a hefty dose of junk food news. The corporate press oft distracts the newsworthy story of transgender abuse to cover celebrities such as Caitlyn Jenner and Jared Fogle. These diversion techniques serve to hide the endemic level of discrimination and abuse towards transgender individuals.

In the fall of 2015, the corporate press ignored the abuse faced by the transgender community to discuss the potential crimes of a man made famous for losing weight. On July 7th of 2015, Jared Fogle, a famous Subway spokesman and commercial actor, was arrested for the possession of child pornography. Fox and NBC dominated the coverage with suggestions about how Subway should react and have anticipated the scandal, but they also did little to mention the children involved and their recovery.

As Fogel’s folly drew national coverage, multiple stories involving transgender abuse were largely under-reported or ignored by the corporate press. For example, Fogel distracted from the story of how the mistreatment of transgendered inmates in prison system results in physical and mental trauma including death. In fact, in August of 2015 the corporate press under-reported Ashley Diamond’s, a transgendered woman who was imprisoned for burglary, lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Corrections. The suit cited abuse and mistreatment from male inmates as well as prison officials who denied the continuation of her hormone treatment. Diamond claims that the abrupt end to hormone treatment resulted in mental and physical trauma. Similarly, in November of 2015, the corporate press ignored that two transgendered inmates, Vicki Thompson and Joanne Latham committed suicide in their United Kingdom all-male prisons. The corporate press also largely ignores stories of hate crimes against transgender people. For example, a transgender woman, Tamara Dominguez, died after being run over by the same vehicle multiple times in Kansas City, Missouri. The story was covered by the local news network, KCTV5, but did not reach the corporate media with the exception of a few left leaning outlets who provided minimal coverage.

By ignoring these stories, the corporate media misses an opportunity to raise awareness about the atrocities faced by transgender people. The amount of anti-trans violence occurring across the United States comes at a time when there is increasing transgender visibility. In fact, a National Center for Transgender Equality study found that transgender people in prison are at extremely high risk of abuse, assault, sexual harassment, and self-harm. Even when the corporate media does cover transgender issues it often ignores the perspective of transgender individuals. For example, from September of 2014 to June of 2015 Fox News aired 44 news alerts and 27 segments about transgender issues, but only two of these stories included input from an actual transgender person.

The corporate media rarely covers issues in the transgender community unless there is a celebrity involved. For example, in April 2015, Bruce Jenner, a former Olympic medalist and reality television star, announced that he identified as a woman with the name Caitlyn Jenner. Jenner sealed a documentary series deal as part of her announcement. The corporate news became infatuated with Jenner’s transition. In July, Jenner’s transition led to her receiving the Courage Award at the ESPYS, where she urged acceptance for other transgendered individuals. Later she appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair (10). In November, she was then awarded Glamour Magazines Woman of the Year Award.

However, to hold up Jenner as a symbol of the transgender experience does not provide an adequate picture of the transgender experience in the US. Jenner had gold medals and celebrity status when she made her announcement. Furthermore, she had signed a new reality show and has extreme wealth. This is not the typical case for transgender people who are facing discrimination. In June 2015, the International Business Times reported that transgender people all over the world face discrimination and many are killed because of their identity. The UN recommends the implementation of anti-LGBT hate crime laws to help better protect transgender individuals. Similarly, in May 2015 The Age Victoria reported that domestic violence in the gay and transgender community is neglected due in large part to a dearth of support services.

The origin of the corporate media’s fatwa on transgender abuse remains a bit of a mystery. Perhaps the answer may be found in the viewer demographics. For example, The Williams Institute states that LGBT people make up 2.2% – 4% of the American population. As such, transgender people do not make up a lot of the audience of the corporate news sites, and the corporate press does not see enough a reason to report on them and their struggles. Whatever the reason for the corporate media censorship of transgender abuse, the fact is that it is real. The corporate press ignores the widespread abuse of transgender people to focus on the struggles of the wealthy celebrity Caitlyn Jenner.

Student Researcher and Writer: Michael Krikorian

Faculty Evaluator: Nolan Higdon

California State University, Maritime

This article was co-edited by Jared Rodda (Diablo Valley College) and Mark Yolangco (Ohlone College)

Michael Krikorian is from Pleasanton, California finishing up his degree in Global Studies and Maritime Affairs at California State University Maritime Academy. 

Contact Michael:

Nolan Higdon is a professor of English and History of US and Latin American in the San Francisco Bay Area. His academic work focuses on nationalism, propaganda, and critical media literacy education. He sits on the boards of the Media Freedom Foundation and ACME. Higdon is the coordinator for the Global Critical Media Literacy Project. He has contributed chapters to Censored 2013, 2014, 2015, & 2016 as well as Stephen Lendman’s Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III (2014). He has published articles on media and propaganda including “Disinfo Wars: Alex Jones War on Your Mind (2013),” “Millennial Media Revolution (2014),” and “Justice For Sale (2015).” He has been a guest on national radio and television programs and a frequent guest host for The Project Censored Radio Show.

Contact Nolan Higdon:

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