Alum criticized for transphobic remarks

by Beacon Staff • April 16, 2008

Bill Schulz, who graduated in 1998 with a BA in Print Journalism, name dropped the college on the late-night "Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld," last week when discussing Thomas Beatie, the first legally-recognized pregnant man.,An Emerson graduate has recently come under fire for alleged homophobic and transphobic comments he and fellow panelists made on a Fox News talk show.

Bill Schulz, who graduated in 1998 with a BA in Print Journalism, name dropped the college on the late-night "Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld," last week when discussing Thomas Beatie, the first legally-recognized pregnant man.

"This little Ewok that she's going to crap out might even have a third eye," Schulz said on the program.

A female-to-male transgender, Beatie took hormones to become a male in his late 20s and married a woman who could not have children.

After five years of marriage, the two decided that since Beatie's female reproductive organs were viable he should carry their child.

Beatie, currently six months pregnant, broke the news in a first-person article in The Advocate last month followed by a high-profile appearance on "Oprah."

An ultrasound on the television show revealed the couple is having a baby girl, who currently looks healthy.

On an April 9 episode of "Red Eye," a talk show known for its irreverence and coverage of news, entertainment, sports and gossip, Schulz discussed Beatie and the media phenomenon surrounding him.

He suggested a reality show should follow Beatie's child arguing that his testosterone levels would inevitably cause extreme birth defects.

Andi Wheeler, Emerson's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Commissioner for the SGA, who viewed the segment, said she feels Schulz's words should be taken as a warning for how Emerson students should conduct themselves in their professional lives.

"I think we should use this as an opportunity to reevaluate our prejudices before it becomes too late and our students are making fools of themselves on national television," she said.

This is not the first instance of an Emerson alum receiving criticism for alleged homophobia.

Wheeler said last year she led a petition against Emerson alumna Lisa Barstow, communications director for the Massachusetts Family Institute, a non-partisan public policy group that denounces on its Web site, among other things, the "homosexual agenda."

And according to a Jan. 28 article in The Boston Globe, State Representative Brian Wallace, an Emerson alum, was one of five people who initially voted against homosexual marriage and then switched their vote to save it after being lobbied by gay rights constituents in his district.

If he had not, Wheeler said the issue would have been on the ballot in November.

Wheeler also said while she found Schulz's comments on "Red Eye" disgusting, she hoped they could help open a dialogue about the general ignorance of transgender issues she sees at the college, even among GLB students.

"The fact that the Emerson alum brought up that he had attended Emerson College is an even bigger slap in the face to this institution," Wheeler said. "But even the most liberal students I have heard use terms that if they had known better, they would have known it was offensive to the transgender population."

In the broadcast about Beatie, Schulz also gave a detailed description of transgendered sex. He said he learned about it from an acting major friend during his time at Emerson who dated a post-op female-to-male transgender person.

Schulz said the friend ultimately could not go through with the intercourse and "ran out."

"Red Eye," a year-old show which runs at 3 a.m., is hosted by former U.K. Maxim publisher Greg Gutfeld.

It has been the center of debate before, most recently when panelist Julie Banderas called Sen. Barack Obama "Halfrican" because he is half-black, half-white.

Another controversy following the broadcast was over Fox Business Network reporter and Schulz's fellow panelist Tracy Byrnes' use of the word "gooky" to describe Beatie's pregnancy. Beatie is half-Asian, half-white.

Emerson's Director of Multicultural Student Affairs Tikesha Morgan said the word, defined by Merriam-Webster Online as an offensive term for an Asian person coined in the 1920s, is still hurtful.

"Anyone who is conscious and knows enough should know that's not a good word to use at all," Morgan said. "To the Asian population, that word still means something harmful, maybe even deadly, to them."

Gutfeld also stirred up the controversy on the Web by refusing to call Beatie by male pronouns, despite his legal status as a man.

On "Oprah," Beatie said he feels the pregnancy does not change his definition of himself as a male.

"I feel it's not a male or a female desire to want to have a child. It's a human desire and I'm a person and I have the right to have my own biological child," he said.

On "Oprah," Beatie said hormone treatments gave him a "small penis" and that he is able to have normal intercourse with his wife. Schulz and Gutfeld incorrectly state on the show that Beatie has an "intact vagina" and is therefore female.

At the end of the segment, available for viewing on YouTube, Schulz refers to Beatie as a "him." Andy Levy, another "Red Eye" regular emphasizes his opinion that Beatie is a "her." Schulz replies, "Okay, her, whatever."

Last September, Emerson officials announced the change to gender-neutral bathrooms in 21 on-campus restrooms to accommodate students who preferred not to identify as one gender.

The move garnered media attention for the school, largely positive. Wheeler said this was a step in the right direction institutionally but that Emerson students' attitudes still need work.

"Somebody can support gender neutral policies but they might throw the word 'tranny' around nonchalantly," Wheeler said. "And that essential difference, I think, is something that is going to take a much longer time than simply changing the signs next to a bathroom."