Today's Letters: Perpetuating stereotypes of what women should be

Published May 16, 2007

Introducing Susan May 13, story  

I appreciate the St. Petersburg Times giving me lessons on how to be a woman.

Your Sunday story says:

- "Steve needed a helmet wig, pancake makeup and foam breasts to be a woman." I lost all my hair during chemotherapy. When I wasn't wearing a wig and makeup, did I stop being a woman?

- Stanton shakes hands and speaks more softly. Does that make someone more of a woman?

- She says hormones have softened her personality. Does that mean that women who are jerks would be nicer if they got a hormone patch? Is she equating softness with being female? If so, does that make a female soldier or athlete less of a woman?

- Stanton "still" speaks like a city manager. Is this yet another false dichotomy, like "strong but soft"?

- Stanton folds "his hands in a girly way." Please print a diagram.

- "Steve-Susan loved evening gowns. Steve-Susan loved the clothes a man would choose for a woman. New Susan is learning to dress for herself." Men predominate as fashion designers, and many women dress to please men. I'm glad Susan has broken free of outside influences, except for her handlers who tell her ...

- That shirts with collars are "mannish." I'm getting dizzy.

- Stanton can't find clothes that fit well. Unlike the rest of us women who can easily find clothes that fit perfectly.

- Now she understands the need for a bunch of shoes!

- "Susan flopped on the bed in tears. Steve would have never cried over his hair." I've never cried over my hair, even when it came out in handfuls. Did I miss a lesson on womanhood?

I oppose discrimination against transgendered people. I also oppose journalism that reinforces stereotypes about how men and women should look and act.

Suzie Siegel, Tampa

Introducing Susan May 13, story

Improper timing

I am writing to express my disgust at the Times for choosing Mother's Day to run its above-the-fold, front-page Sunday piece on the trials and tribulations of former Largo City Manager Steve/Susan Stanton and his/her gender-reassignment surgery. I find it ironic that someone who is neither a real woman, nor a mother, would occupy the most prominent area of your newspaper on such an occasion.

Instead of using this holiday to showcase different examples of unselfish mothers throughout the Tampa Bay area (including those serving our country overseas) you, predictably, choose to promote bizarre alternative lifestyles parallel with your unabashed liberal agenda.

As a native of the area, I am continually amazed at what items your editors deem to be both newsworthy and appropriate. However, the timing and content of this piece is particularly absurd.

Eric Lanctot, St. Petersburg

Not front-page news

I don't think that Mr. Stanton should have been fired from his job as city manager. However, I don't think that his sex change warrants a front-page feature.

I wish Stanton well and I hope he gets to live his life as he wishes. But has anyone considered how this is affecting his son? I'm sure it's not easy for him to see his father on the front page dressed as a woman.

There are more newsworthy subjects for the front page. I looked for a story about U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, and found them on Page 21A. I think that as long as Americans are in Iraq and losing their lives they should be featured on the front page every day. Let us honor and remember them.

Why don't you feature stories about the brave men and women fighting the wildfires or tell us more about what is happening in Darfur? Those subjects are worthy of front-page coverage.

Linda K. Roberts, Clearwater

A local story

I generally just chalk up the complaints I read in the editorial section to whiners regarding the assignment of topics for the front page.

But after the continuing story of the transformation of Steve to Susan was given front-page status - well, you count me among them. How about below the fold in the Local and State section? Seems like a local story to me.

Jim Heady, South Pasadena

Totally disgusted

First of all, let me start by saying that I have no issues with how Mr./Ms. Stanton wishes to live his/her life. I have deep concern about Stanton's son and the impact this life-change will have on him. My prayers will be with this boy for years to come.

But the reason I am writing is to express my total disgust at the St. Petersburg Times for "bringing out" Susan Stanton on Mother's Day. What disrespect you show for all mothers on this day of honor for them. To say your presentation of this lead story on this day is the ultimate in bad taste does not begin to describe how I feel about this presentation.

I may cancel my subscription. I hope many others do also.

John Kisz, Palm Harbor

Mother's way May 13, story

Mother's Day gift

Inspirational, courageous, full of hope and a lesson in a mother's perseverance, untiring self-sacrifice and love; this story was truly a Mother's Day gift.

Ruth Hodges is a unique and charitable person who has made significant contributions to society and humankind. Her children are a wonderful testimonial.

Unfortunately, you missed a great opportunity. Hers was truly the Page 1 article, not the ongoing saga of Steve/Susan Stanton.

Bill Marginson, Tampa

Insensitive Stanton

Because I have two friends who have undergone sexual reassignment surgery, I am sensitive to the plight of Steve/Susan Stanton. It is hard to comprehend the feeling of "living in the wrong body, " but with the help of my friends I have gained some valuable insights and learned to love and accept these two women for who they are today. They handled their transformations privately and with love and respect for their families.

Steve/Susan seems to lack the sensitivity gene. He's not the only one traveling the road to his personal happiness and he's not considering those closest to him on his journey of self-discovery.

I found it extremely selfish on his/her part and completely distasteful of the St. Petersburg Times to flaunt his debut as a dame on Mother's Day. Did no one at the Times consider the feelings of his son and wife? Could you not have run his story on Monday?

A better story might have been how Mrs. Stanton is helping her son weather this very public storm.

Bente Jensen, Belleair Beach

Raising awareness

I am very happy the St. Petersburg Times has continued to cover Susan Stanton. It is very important that people are aware that there are people like her who are accomplished and want to live their lives to the fullest like the rest of the world.

There are a lot of negative comments about this story when there should not be. People need to realize that they are not going to be taking the world to their grave when they go, and they need to be open to change and acceptance and move on with their lives.

What a wonderful story that can teach us all a little about life and being yourself.

Dijana Atikovic, St. Petersburg

Best wishes

May God bless you, Susan Stanton. You are a beautiful person internally and externally.

David M. Alfano, Safety Harbor