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LETTERS

‘Jokes’ about gender identity are as hurtful now as they were 16 years ago

Matt Siegel, host of "Matty in the Morning," in September 2019. He abruptly signed off Wednesday after being told to "stop talking" about pop star Demi Lovato's announcement that they are nonbinary.
Matt Siegel, host of "Matty in the Morning," in September 2019. He abruptly signed off Wednesday after being told to "stop talking" about pop star Demi Lovato's announcement that they are nonbinary.Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe

I do believe in the right of free speech. I am all in favor of people voicing their feelings and opinions openly on most any subject. But when a potentially hurtful comment is made, one hopes that the person uttering it takes full responsibility for its effects on those receiving it (“ ‘Matty in the Morning’ host storms off air after warning over Demi Lovato comments,” Metro, May 20). If Matt Siegel of Kiss 108 FM openly accepts the fact that his comments about Demi Lovato coming out as nonbinary, whether said in jest or in earnest, were probably hurtful (and hurtful in a major way to some), then I accept his right to have said them. But to try to take cover under the pretext of “jokes” is cowardice at best.

Sixteen years ago, when I was coming out as transsexual to my patients, family, colleagues, and friends, I was informed by others that local radio personalities said less-than-gracious comments about me on the air. I was hurt. I would like to let Siegel know how difficult that period was for me and my family and that words such as his are painful — to me and others. Is this the legacy that Siegel was talking about that he wants to leave for his family, or is it the puffed-up ego of a man who doesn’t know when he is wrong?

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Dr. Deborah Bershel

Somerville