Stefan Mychajliw – Ignorant or Arrogant?
by Artvoice Staff (@Artvoice) - posted 8:30 am, April 12, 2012
A special column from Kristen Becker.
Last Wednesday, local Jill-of-all-trades Stefan Mychajliw posted a Facebook status update for his mid-day “debate” show, 2sides which airs on WGRZ with co-host Kristy Mazurek.
The beginning of the update is the issue: “Happy Wednesday! He/She is back in the Miss Canada Competition…” He/She? Really?
The post was written by Stefan Mychajliw. I commented directly on the post, and Stefan did not respond and continues to arrogantly ignore me. I assume he is ignoring me because he is either of the mind that I can not help/hurt him in the public eye or that he hates women AND gays. However, Artvoice blogger Alan Bedenko followed up on my questions with the hosts of the show and received responses from both.
Here is the exchange between Kristy Mazurek and Alan Bedenko:
Kristy Mazurek was clearly concerned that the original post could have been offensive, and seemed to genuinely care that feelings may have been hurt.
Here is the exchange between Mychajliw and Bedenko:
“No thanks brother.”- Does he think he is AC Slater?
“I think Kristy addressed the issue very well”. She did indeed respond well, Stefan. She addressed her feelings about something you wrote. What I and many of my fellow LGBT friends and straight allies would like to know is why you thought that kind of statement was appropriate? Mychajliw goes on to say that the general manager of WGRZ responded to an email from Bryan Ball, President of the Stonewall Democrats of WNY , and that was that.
Here is the email sent by Mr. Ball to WGRZ:
April 10, 2012
President and General Manager, WGRZ-TV
259 Delaware Ave Buffalo, NY 14202
Dear Mr. Jim Toellner,
I write you regarding language which was used by a representative of your station on the Facebook page of your program “WGRZ 2 Sides” last Wednesday. The post, made by the “WGRZ 2 Sides” account on April 4, 2012, begins as follows: “Happy Wednesday! He/She is back in the Miss Canada competition…” and refers to the recent news story of a transgender woman competing in the Miss Universe competition.
In the use of pronouns to refer to transgender individuals, in this case a transgender woman, the use of “He/She” is a derogatory, offensive term which can be considered a slur against transgender people.
As the president of a local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, I have through your station’s good journalism been interviewed on multiple occasions regarding a variety of issues facing the LGBT community. Your journalists, reporters and other news professionals have responded to and reported on newsworthy events and issues within the LGBT community such as Marriage Equality and LGBT youth suicide with considerable knowledge, sensitivity and respect. I fully understand the individual who wrote this posting for the Facebook page of “WGRZ 2 Sides” may not be aware of the gravity of using such a term, and so I write to bring awareness to the implications using such speech brings.
The American Psychological Association defines a transgender person as: “Transgender is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression, or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.” In other words, a transgender individual is a person biologically born into the body of one sex, who is truly a different or separate gender.
In the case of Jenna Talackova, the Miss Universe contestant, Ms. Talackova is a transgender woman who identifies as such because she is and has always been a woman, who has also made a physical transition to the traditional physical traits of her gender. Because Ms. Talackova is a woman, to indicate that she is anything else, lesser or unknown is deeply offensive, and in this case is a slur. I respectfully ask that the use of this term be corrected to afford Ms. Talackova the respect and dignity afforded to all of your station’s and program’s news subjects.
As your journalists and reporters have documented in the past, in New York and the United States, transgender individuals face incredible legal and societal discrimination, and are legally without protections from employment, housing and financial discrimination. Language such as is our subject here only demeans and dehumanizes Ms. Talackova by casting into doubt the identity Ms. Talackova has as a member of society.
In conclusion, I thank you for your attention to this important matter; as I thank you for your station’s historical treatment of the LGBT community and our issues.
President, Stonewall Democrats of Western New York
PO Box 857 Buffalo, NY 14215
And the response from Jim Toellner of WGRZ.
Thanks for watching and taking time to give us your thoughts. I will pass these along to those involved.
As you may know or for clarification, “2 Sides” is an opinion and debated (sic) show. It is not produced by our news department and the hosts are not employees of WGRZ, they are independent contractors so our control is somewhat limited. We do run a disclaimer before and after the show spelling much of this out. Your points are certainly valid though and we will have the appropriate discussions.
I appreciate the efforts of the station manager, though I feel calling a show “WGRZ’s 2 sides” is misleading at the very least if WGRZ does not produce the show.
This response leads me to believe that the station manager, as well as Stefan’s co-host are aware of the severity of his actions, while Stefan himself seems completely ignorant to the fact that he has been derogatory towards another human being.
As a resident of this city, and a member of the LGBT community, I am asking all of you to hold Stefan accountable for his actions. Not just for the post itself, but the blatant arrogance he demonstrated following the post. I’m not sure if Stefan fancies himself the next Jerry Springer and he feels like sensationalizing things will help his ratings, or if he really is just an arrogant bible thumping asshole. The worst kind of bible thumper, the kind that doesn’t realize that Jesus is someone you aspire to be, by treating all living things with kindness and compassion. Not by demeaning them with your 5th grade locker room jokes.
I have always preached my love for Buffalo in my travels. I’ve always said it is a city with no arrogance, with people of all walks of life sitting side by side at the bar. I’ve always been proud to say “there’s only one rule in Buffalo-don’t be an asshole”
Stefan broke that rule. For real.