You just never know what the cornflakes will bring.
Transsexual Scrabble player crowned as British national champion
says the Guardian this morning:
‘Transsexual Mikki Nicholson, who only began playing Scrabble five years ago, beats opponent Mark Nyman to take British national crown.’
Congratulations, Mikki! There are two things which occurred to me about this report. In an early October edition, The Spectator magazine trailed an article with the title: ‘Will transsexuals destroy women’s sport?’ (Zoe O’Connell gives a fair summary of the piece on her blog Complicity).
Oh no, I thought this morning, Scrabble too? Except Scrabble isn’t divided along gender lines. Mikki might just be, wait for it, very very good at word games.
Except the Guardian headline prioritises her status as a transsexual woman. With a squint, it’s possible to read the Guardian headline as meaning Mikki is the British National Transsexual Champion (who happens to be a Scrabble Player).
The full article is here. There are some pronoun issues – Dru, how does this Guardian report rate on the scale between annoying and not annoying? (or worse or better than that?)
Transsexual scribbler comments on Guardian story
The pronoun business in this article is problematic; I’ve just had a quick Google, and find that Mikki is generally referred to as ‘he’; on the Yahoo UK Scrabble messageboard, someone comments on the BBC report of this tournament, the only report I have seen that genders Mikki as female, saying that the BBC has ‘altered Mikki’s gender‘.
So until we hear from Mikki about their preferred form of address, I shall put the outrage on hold.
On the other hand, in the transsexual drinking game, we get
- using ‘transsexual’ as a noun – one shot
- describing Mikki’s outfit -one shot
- mentioning a wig – a double, I should think
- using the phrase ‘woman trapped in a man’s body’- a double. Heck, two doubles.
- describing Mikki’s surgical status -half a bottle, and be damned
and for a bonus, the journalist gets the meaning of ‘obeisant’ wrong. It doesn’t mean ‘respect’, Amy!
It’s tricky, coming so soon after the really very bad reporting of the death of Sonia Burgess. Maybe we should drop Mikki a line…
Chrissie did some comparisons with the reportage elsewhere, and concluded that it was probable that all media have been working from the same source.
This was confirmed in an exchange of e-mails between me and Amy Fallon, credited on the Guardian story’s byline, who said that the story came from the Press Association.
The Guardian story has now been amended to use appropriate pronouns.
…and a further update
2 Nov, 20:00
I had a chat with Mikki.
She confirmed that she does indeed identify as transsexual, and has a clinical diagnosis too. She is quietly transitioning in her own time.
She did not describe herself as ‘a man trapped in a woman’s body’ – that hackneyed description was tacked on by a journalist somewhere along the way.
She has only conducted two interviews, one with an Independent journalist at the competition and one over the phone with a local paper; so presumably the flavour of the story as it was printed is due to the dead hand of the Press Association who got hold of it, and who seem a bit rubbish at covering trans stories.
Regarding her appearance, which has attracted some attention, not all of it favourable (and some people within the trans community too can be a bit narrow-minded in their ideas of ‘what a transsexual should look like’…) -she says she normally dresses rather more androgynously. But it was a bit of a special occasion, of course. And the outfit certainly departed from the stereotypical idea of what a gamer looks like….
Anyway, congrats, Mikki! You rock!