In a Today Show segment covering the Channel 9 news team that were mugged in Rio, by someone who was either a cross-dresser or transgender woman, host Karl Stefanovic utter the slur "tranny" six times. For the majority of the segment Karl cracked jokes and obviously thought the whole situation was hilarious.
Following the show, Stefanovic received a lot of backlash for his behaviour and comments, especially his liberal use of the offensive term "tranny." So the following day he made a full apology on the breakfast show. And it was a good apology. It was sincere, believable and in no way defensive. He explained that he didn't understand that "tranny" was offensive and called himself, "an ignorant tool." He acknowledged his larrikin manner, and that at this time he was wrong, "I often laugh and things I should, and most definitely say them, but I get it wrong, and yesterday I got it very wrong."
"I honestly didn't know the negative and deeply hurtful impact that word has, not only on members of the LGBTQI community, but on their family and on their friends," said Karl before calling for the term to be binned. He also acknowledged his ignorance of the LGBTI life. "I have no understanding of what it's like to feel like you are born in the wrong body, to feel uncomfortable in your own skin or the extreme courage it takes to accept yourself and live the life you've always wanted to live." As we said, it was a good apology, but was it award winning?
Karl has been nominated for an LGBTI Honour Award in the media category. It's an award for people in the media who have championed and dedicated themselves to the LGBTI cause. Karl's apology was for being offensive towards the LGBTI community, so people are questioning his right to be celebrated by the LGBTI community.
While I'm pleased with Karl Stefanovic's complete 180 on trans issues, he's still not worthy enough to be nominated for an LGBTI media award
— Elias Jahshan | الياس جهشان (@Elias_Jahshan) September 5, 2016
if Karl Stefanovic is the kind of man he thinks he is, he ought to be horrified at the idea of winning that award
— two thousand and blenty (@villainmorris) September 5, 2016
If you ever want to be nominated for a prestigious award, say something transphobic on television and then apologise for it. #KarlStefanovic
— Seb Starcevic (@BookshelfOfDoom) September 5, 2016
Are there really so few media personalities worthy of an LGBT Honor award that Karl Stefanovic could make his way onto the list? Really??
— Omar Sakr (@OmarjSakr) September 5, 2016
Other journalists nominated for the award include Mark Whittaker from the SBS for his investigations into gay-hate crimes in Australia, Janine Cohen for the Australia Story episode on transgender teen Georgie Stone, and Patrick Abboud for his commitment to reporting LGBTI issues across multiple platforms. Karl's nomination reads, "For his ground-breaking and earnest apology to the transgender community following unfortunate comments made on the Today Show, and also for a subsequent 60 Minutes piece on young transgender people."
We doubt Karl will win, and I'd guess he's feeling quite unworthy of the nomination, but it shows the power of an apology. There is also the argument that Karl, with his wide-spread popularity, did a lot for the LGBTI community by apologising for his ignorance, and highlighting the lack of knowledge about the struggles and casual discrimination LGBTI people and their families experience that still very much exists today. Ending LGBTI discrimination needs to reach the masses. Karl was in a position to do so, and he did.