Karl Stefanovic, breakfast show host and joke maker, has always been a pretty interesting guy. He uses The Today Show to bring light to the issues of sexism in a way that no one noticed until he pointed it out, and has proven time and time again that will do pretty much anything for television. You can see that in this YouTube video where he eats the world’s hottest pie. Watch when the pie gets really hot in the gif below.
So when Stefanovic royally messed up and called transgender people “trannys” on The Today Show in July, he, unlike most people, realised that his language was harmful and promptly apologised. Everyone pretty much thought that was that, until Stefanovic got nominated for a Honour Award, literally just for apologising.
The Honour Awards is:
“an annual event which acknowledges outstanding service to, or achievement within NSW’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.”
Although it’s good that Stefanovic used his platform to publicly apologise and admit that he made a mistake, my opinion is that it’s not exactly groundbreaking for him to have done that. That’s literally how everyone should apologise when they use a slur, let alone if they do it for an entire television segment. The Today Show is a staple show for some people while they eat their breakfast. They would’ve had to know that they were reaching a fair amount of people.
What bugs me about this is because of Stefanovic and his prolific ways, it has taken attention away from the other people who do help the NSW LGBTI community on a much smaller scale. As soon as Stefanovic and his apology were mentioned, everyone focused on that instead of the other people that were nominated. And for someone who has probably done backbreaking and slow work within the community to realise that they’re going to go unnoticed again, it’s quite sad.
Another thing that is saddening about this is that although all Stefanovic did was apologise for offending the transgender community, he is getting praised for it like he’s discovered a cure for cancer. In reality, he’s done the bare minimum of being a decent human being and apologising for realising that his words have the ability to hurt people way more than the average person. Which, again, is a good thing, but I don’t think it’s worthy of a nomination.
ACON, NSW’s leading HIV prevention, HIV support group, and LGBTI health organisation is one of the groups that will get money from the Honour Awards. They have released a statement explaining the reasons as to why Stefanovic’s apology has been nominated.
‘Admission of mistakes and the harm words and actions can cause is an honourable act. Publicly admitting your ignorance and seeking out more information sets a good example and can serve as a means to educate others who make similarly hurtful remarks.
Whilst Mr Stefanovic did make a huge and hurtful mistake in the comments he made, his immediate act of contrition and acknowledgment that his words did hurt trans people was very commendable.
We acknowledge that not everyone in the community will agree with him being nominated as a finalist in the Honour Awards, but there is an important principle in doing so.
The significant attention given to his apology also delivered a unique and high-profile platform for encouraging Australians to improve their attitudes to LGBTI people.’
So, there you have it. Although myself and other people may not necessarily be happy about it, an organisation that deals with HIV and the LGBTI community is. That’s definitely a positive thing, considering they deal with the LGBTI community literally every day in the good work that they do. Good for them!