ABC Pushes ‘Normal’ With Transgendered Mayor

With a rich history of giving unprecedented coverage to alternative sexualities and gender identities, it’s no surprise that features 1,100 + word article about a small town transgendered mayor.Transgendered Mayor

Stu Rasmussen is the mayor of Silverton, Oregon. He made national headlines as the first transgendered mayor in the nation after he won his November 2008 election. Rasmussen, who is sixty, has spent “50 years to get comfortable in [his] body” and in 2000 “adopted the twins,” as he called it, and got breast implants.

But Rasmussen may be making more headlines as RDF USA, the production company that shot hit ABC shows such as “Wife Swap” and “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” confirmed that they were shooting Rasmussen in Silverton the week of April 6, according to the article by Sarah Netter.

“While he has some trepidation about the maelstrom a hit television show could bring to his small town -- concerns shared by his fellow town officials -- Rasmussen told that he agreed to put his life on display in the hopes of helping others who are struggling with their own gender identity but don't believe they can live outside the closet,” Netter wrote. “It's almost my responsibility to the rest of the transgender community to help others understand that we are not freaks and weirdos,” Rasmussen said.

While Netter did note Rasmussen’s genuine concern for the impact on his small town, she gave him and his supporters plenty of room to discuss the value of a reality show based on a transgendered mayor. “People aren’t that familiar with us … most of us are pretty average people,” said Denise Leclair executive director of the International Foundation for Gender Education in Waltham, Mass. Netter thought it important to follow up with the statistics proving just how “normal” transgenderism is. “But with about 3 million transgendered people in the United States, or about 1 percent of the population, the community isn't accordingly represented in most places, including politics and Hollywood. A reality show would help portray transgendered people as they are … even if it doesn't help Rasmussen's career,” Netter declared.

Netter doesn’t say much about what the 9,500 residents of Silverton think of their mayor, opting to just quote Rasmussen saying, “Silverton is so over this.”

Had Netter been interested, she might have found some that aren’t quite “over it.” One Silvertonian of this author’s acquaintance named “Joanna” is among those who disagree with Rasmussen’s lifestyle. “He is the one freakish thing in the town,” said the mother of four.

Nor are local religious groups over it. “The churches in town have pretty much said ‘We think it's wrong, but Jesus loves him’ in articles I've read,” Joanna said. And she is at least one Silverton resident who isn’t happy the town is getting attention for Rasmussen. “He doesn't deserve so much attention,” she said. “ABC is wrong if it televises anything to do with him.”

 Netter was more interested in Rasmussen’s particular oddities. “Unlike many transgendered people, Rasmussen has not made a full commitment to either gender,” she wrote. “Instead, his commitment is to what makes him comfortable. He wears women's clothing and has grown his hair long, but he is not considering further surgery and has kept his male name.”

CMI has noted that ABC News has a penchant for publicizing alternative sexualities and those with gender confusion. Last week, Good Morning America ran a five minute report on “objectum sexuals” – people whose “intimate life revolves around objects, not people,” ABC correspondent Kate Snow said. ABC’s Barbara Walters interviewed Thomas Beatie the “pregnant man” and touted her domestic situation as a “family.” Beatie was born a woman and has kept her female reproductive organs in order to carry her baby, but takes hormones to retain the appearance of a man. There are “related” articles on the ABC web page that include articles about “transgendered children” and one titled, “My Mommy Is a Boy.”


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Sexuality Culture/Society Anti-Religious Bias Localism ABC Stu Rasmussen Sarah Netter