Saturday, November 20, 2004

Irrelevant fixations

Stuff has a fairly disgusting story today about how a "burglar with more than 100 convictions escaped another prison term". But in an effort to pile on the outrage, they fixate on the fact that she has had a gender reassignment and that it was paid for by the taxpayer.

Lavishing attention on the gender reassignment is simply an effort to paint her as a freak, and is about as relevant (and odious) as fixating on someone's race, sexual orientation, or marital status. But it's the "taxpayer funded" bit which attracted my interest, because it's clear that the journalist hasn't done even basic research on the matter. Gender reassignments in New Zealand are frequently publicly funded through the Special High Cost Treatment Pool. Applications are made by DHB specialists, and are assessed on the grounds of medical necessity, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness.

It took me less than five minutes to find this through google. Either the journalist didn't bother looking, or deliberately decided to play the "taxpayer funded" aspect for outrage without regard for the facts. Neither is good journalistic practice.