Accepting the apologies of the repentantBottom Highlights, Trans Progressive Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Commentary: Trans Progressive
I took a few things I consider positive away from my Pentecostal upbringing, and one of those things was a non-religious concept of how to apologize. In the Foursquare church I was raised in the concept was called “repentance,” but I separate repentance as a tool to apologize from the term’s religious connotations.
I think of how to sincerely apologize has four components:
1.) Admit one is wrong, and use the term “wrong” in explaining why one feels the need to apologize
2.) Communicate in clear terms that one is sorry for having committed the wrong
3.) State how one plans to do that same wrong thing again
4.) Explain what one plans to do to make sure one doesn’t commit the same wrong thing again, and plans to make recompense if that’s required.
May 21, Kimberly and Beck, DJs hosting The Breakfast Buzz in Rochester, New York, had a 12-minute segment on the City of Rochester’s plan to offer appropriate medical treatment for their transgender employees – to include gender affirmation surgeries. “The services that will be paid for under the new coverage: gender reassignment surgery, psychological counseling,” stated Kimberly as one of her takes on the city’s plan, “because you’re probably a nut job to begin with.” When a female listener called in and was put on the air to complain the pair were being disrespectful, they ended by cutting off the listener with laughing saying “Thank you, sir.” And, Kimberly and Beck played the Aerosmith song “Dude Looks Like A Lady,” more than once through the segment.
The next day (Thursday), the Entercom-owned station suspended the two, and the morning after that they fired the DJs. “Their hateful comments against the transgender community do not represent our station or our company,” The Buzz said in their Thursday morning statement. “We deeply apologize to the transgender community, the community of Rochester and anyone else who was offended by their comments. We are proud of our past work on behalf of the local LGBT community and we remain committed to that partnership.”
Kimberly and Beck released a statement Friday afternoon. “We are very sorry for the hurt and pain we have caused anyone,” their written statement began, “especially those in the transgender community and their friends and families. What we said and the manner in which we handled ourselves was wrong; we take full responsibility and we deeply apologize to any and all that we offended.
“We fully understand Entercom’s position and their decision to dismiss us,” the statement later went on to say. “It is [Entercom’s] right and we accept their decision and our responsibility in it.”
They ended their statement by stating, “It is our hope that this situation can be a time of learning and understanding about the transgender community and not a time for additional anger and insensitivity. This is a community of individuals that struggle painfully to be themselves and find the support and comfort they deserve. We believe that this can be a chance for all of us to stop the ignorance and find our humanity.”
Despite some who commented on the various news stations that posted their apology that they were apologizing because they wanted their jobs back, I saw all four elements of a sincere apology in their statement. I didn’t read in their apology any hope of getting their jobs back.
Frankly, I personally accept their apology, but I don’t accept in on behalf of the transgender community. I also don’t think their apology should result in their immediate rehiring. To even consider such a thing, if I were the executive in charge of hiring on air talent, I would need to see them personally follow through on their statement’s implied promise to advocate on behalf of transgender people seeking appropriate health care, as well as personally take part in stopping the ignorance about trans people “and find our humanity.”
Minority communities are served best by allies and advocates that change their hearts and minds about those minority communities. And that’s whether they change their hearts and minds by education and persuasion, or are educated by the consequences of their own bigotry.
It’s not a sin to accept apologies of the repentant, and their repentance can serve those of us in minority communities. That’s not a bad thing, is it?
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