Was Grantland Right To Run the Shocking Story of “Dr. V?”

When you think of a subject that inspires intrigue, probably the last thing you think of is golf. And yet intrigue is exactly what writer Caleb Hannan found when he began looking into the life of a woman who had allegedly created a new kind of putter that promised to revolutionize the game. The end result is a piece published last week over at Grantland which instantly ignited a firestorm of controversy and criticism. If you haven’t read the article, titled “Dr. V’s Magical Putter,” I’d definitely suggest doing so. As a story and a work of investigative journalism, it’s riveting. Whether or not it ever should have been published, however, is another matter. The subject of the piece, the titular “Dr. V,” called it a “hate crime” — not long before killing herself. What the article has now done is started a very serious and maybe much-needed new debate on media ethics and empathy in the age of online journalism.

The basics of the story are as follows: Hannan began writing a story on an unusual golf club he’d seen online, one that its creator boasted was scientifically superior to a normal club. But as he delved into the history of that creator, the colorful and occasionally frustrating woman behind this magic putter, he discovered not only that most of the credentials she’d touted to him and her investors were phony, but also that she was transgender and had been born a man. In essence, that nothing about her was as it seemed. The story is written in the style of a mystery, with the whole thing slowly unraveling as Hannan tugs on the string. The problem, of course, is that in the end, Essay Anne Vanderbilt — Dr. V — ends up dead by her own hand, possibly because of the threat of exposure Hannan and his story posed.

If you’re a journalist, there’s a pretty good chance you can understand the dilemma Caleb Hannan and the editors of Grantland faced with the story. It began as a lightweight feature piece and turned into a rather shocking exposé; at its center was someone who was troubled and emotionally unstable, but who had indeed played quite a few people to the tune of thousands of dollars; and after eight months of research, during which time Hannan was never allowed to meet the enigmatic Dr. V, there was suddenly a tragic denouement that changed everything.

The debate concerns whether Grantland should’ve gone with the story at all, knowing how it ended, or whether Dr. V’s transgender status and eventual death was simply handled insensitively within the context of the piece. Sites like Jezebel and Shakesville, needless to say, consider both Grantland and Hannan the embodiment of privileged, politically incorrect evil. (No, I’m not linking to either.) But many journalists are coming to the defense of Hannan, conceding that he was put in a difficult situation by circumstances that were beyond his control. Make no mistake: Caleb Hannan didn’t kill Essay Anne Vanderbilt, and those claiming he did are ridiculously off-base. He did what journalists are supposed to do, which is pursue the facts to their conclusion, regardless of where they may lead.

That being said, the way the story was told, while gripping, may not be defensible morally given the final act. While Vanderbilt’s lies — among them, that she was a descendant of the Vanderbilts — and overall volatility were worth discussing in detail because it painted a necessary picture of her given what the author essentially discovered about her, the fact that she was trans shouldn’t have been written as if it were somehow the ultimate deception. There was a responsibility there to be sensitive and empathetic, because that’s another part of what it means to be an ethical journalist; you’re not operating in a vacuum as a journalist and while facts are facts and they shouldn’t be edited, there are ways to approach a story that are both fulfilling and mindful of the power journalists wield.

Grantland was right to run the piece. It simply should’ve adjusted it, acknowledging from the beginning that the story Caleb Hannan started out writing wasn’t the one he ended up with and publicly expressing, in this case, sympathy and compassion for that fact. No one knows whether Dr. V killed herself because she feared being outed by Grantland, but it was the responsibility of Grantland not to treat her death as one more shocking twist in a story full of them.

Update: Late yesterday, Grantland editor Bill Simmons posted a thorough, unequivocally penitent, and largely stellar apology for the mistakes his site made with the Dr. V story. The piece not only offers a full mea culpa for all that was wrong within the story and the choice to publish it as it was, it explains in considerable and praiseworthy detail what happened during the decision-making process and what could have and should have been done differently. The apology complements another Grantland piece by Christina Kahrl, which is linked within.

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    • bbiemeret

      The more I read, including Grantland’s apology, the more I realize the only reason this story was a problem is because someone commited suicide. Emotional biases seem to have taken over this story. From Ms. Kahrl’s own critique of the story, and I quote, “We’re here because Essay Anne Vanderbilt is dead”.

      It’s sad, but it doesn’t mean Grantland was in the wrong. The editor who wrote the apology said that even after all the backlash, and the input from the transgender community, that “it’s hard for me to accept that Dr. V’s transgender status wasn’t part of the story”.

      If Dr. V was so concerned that such significant aspects of her personal history remain private, and it’s not hard to see why she would, presenting yourself publicly as the inventor of a device that will “revolutionize” a sport played around the world for large sums of money, and using falsified credentials to do so, is probably not the wisest decision. This wasn’t someone just “minding their own business, going about their lives in relative anonymity”, this was someone who obviously sought attention. Even if she just wanted to market the club and profit from it, there are a myriad of methods she could have accomplished this with out putting her persona out in public. Do you know invented the Sham-Wow? I don’t. But I’m sure they made some money off of it without anyone knowing anything about them.

    • John Walter Davoll

      You know, when I first read this story (on Gawker, I think?), I swear, my first thought was “I wonder what Chez’s take will be?” Thanks for reminding us that nuance isn’t gone from media analysis or journalism itself. Morality and ethics are rarely as black and white as our knee-jerk responses would entice us into believing.

    • nerdnam

      All of journalism seems to be like this now: personal, predatory and punitive. Anyone who lands in the news now is fair game for having their entire lives exposed to the most excruciating personal scrutiny, no matter how irrelevant to anything those personal facts might be. As long as your personal details are salacious and ‘interesting’ and there’s some sort of moral justification for picking on you, those details will be spread out in the news.
      Run for president and God help you if it can be shown you pooped your pants on the first day of kindergarten. Never mind your actual politics or the actual impact your presidency might have on all of our lives, it’s what you did and said in kindergarten that’s more important to today’s journalists than anything else.
      Why would anyone ever talk to a journalist? I wouldn’t tell a journalist anything, any more than I would hang out with a lion if I were an antelope. All they are doing is looking for some vulnerable person who can be hung out to dry in the public view for some sort of malfeasance. And that could just as well be me as anyone else.

      • bbiemeret

        While I agree with your point on the nature of media seeking scandal for sensationalism, it doesn’t appear to be the case here. The author was attempting to write a positive piece on a great invention, and the inventor. During the course of investigating, information of a scandalous nature was revealed. It’s one thing to go looking for scandal, it’s quite another to have it drop in your lap.

        A white supremacist recently went on television to promote his racist views. In the course of investigating him, it was revealed that he had African DNA. The show he volunteered to be on, revealed to a national audience that this white supremacist was part black. I have no doubt that that information was humiliating, and may have even put his safety, even life, in danger. As far as a moral judgement is concerned, was the show wrong to air the evidence? I don’t think they were, do you?

    • http://vermillionbrain.blogspot.com/ Vermillion

      Yeah, while Grantland shouldn’t be held responsible for her suicide, revealing her gender change was, at best, highly unnecessary. If there was evidence that this was part of her deceptive practices, yeah, I could see that information being relevant. But no such proof exists. It just so happened that the woman who was apparently scamming investors was transgender. It is sad that all this ended so tragically. It’s clear Dr. V had some problems, but her gender change should not have be treated so cavalierly.

      The really sad thing is, this story would not have the legs it has if not for that revelation. A golf club scam artist? Bah. An inventor with dubious claims? You see them all the time on infomercials. But a transgender woman bilking investors? It’s sexy, it’s salacious, it’s unusual. It’s perfect. That is why I can’t really let Grantland completely off the hook on this. They HAD to be aware of the attention it would get.

    • Lady Willpower

      I don’t know what Shakesville is, but you have me scared to google it. Is it worse than Jezebel?

      • Chez Pazienza

        You have no idea. I dare you. Just go and read the comment policy there alone.

        • Lady Willpower

          WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST READ?

          • Chez Pazienza

            Shh. This is a safe space. No downvoting.

            • Lady Willpower

              These nested comments are playing havoc with my information processing disorder.
              Thanks for oppressing me.

            • Chez Pazienza

              Gender essentialist.

            • David L.

              Naturally, because there are always people who willfully disregard the rules of this space, sometimes comments will get downvotes by people deliberately trying to stir trouble. This would definitely be a problem if we were the humorless feminists we are oft accused of being—but we are not! We are and always have been stronger, wittier, and more creative than anyone who tries to get us down!

              So, in recognizing that the only people doing downvoting are misogynist heapshits who flagrantly violate our commenting guidelines, we recognize downvotes as Feminist Experience Points! “Congratulations—you said something so awesome that a pathetic wreck with nothing better to do expended energy on giving you a Feminist Experience Point!” No need to feel bad about a downvote, Shakers—it’s just evidence that you’re LEVELING UP!

              Ugh.

        • dbtheonly

          And they’re tied into Disqus?

          Reading the (long form) comment policy is not optional?

    • Gunnut2600

      I suspect the majority of people reacting to this story have clearly not actually read it. Her claims that her lab was repeatedly broken into by unknown individuals attempting to steal her secrets alone would direct any serious journalist to change the focus of the story onto her.

      The fact that she was once a man is not an issue. The fact that she lied about her credentials, has a history of really shitty behavior, made grandiose claims about her product, and ripped people off is the story.

      Its a tragedy she took her life. But to read this story and chalk up her death to this story is ridiculous. It sounds like she was a ticking time bomb.

      • Christopher Foxx

        The fact that she was once a man is not an issue. The fact that she lied about her credentials, has a history of really shitty behavior, made grandiose claims about her product, and ripped people off is the story.

        Right. So why bring her gender into it? It’s not an issue, so why mention it?

        • Gunnut2600

          It was a very poor decision by Grantland editors. Unless Hannan had full rights to do whatever he wanted (which he didn’t), this all falls directly onto the editors. Its the whole fucking reason to have editors. I do think it is ridiculous that people are claiming that just because Hannan could not independently get her records, that doesn’t mean she was lying.

          Her demand that he sign a non-disclosure agreement to see the records was crazy. She could have a mail order degree in HVAC and once Hannan saw it, she could claim whatever the hell she wanted.

          Its a situation where no one comes out looking good. I am not supporting Hannan outing Dr V in anyway. I just don’t agree with the perception I am seeing again and again on the internet that some asshole journo harassed a tall women over her gender until she died. The shitty story is more nuanced than that.

          Fuck…i suspect this all sounds like I support Hannan outing her.

          • Danielle White

            You (and a lot of others – most analyses of this report have omitted the point) are overlooking that, before her death, Hannan outed her to someone she knew personally – the investor who proceeded to give Hannan the “gullible.” We will likely never know if she learned of that action, but it’s hardly impossible for it to have gotten back to her.

            If it had, I rather suspect she would have made some assumptions about Hannan’s intentions for the article, and I’d have a hard time faulting her on those assumptions.

            • Gunnut2600

              And that justifies a suicide?

              I’m sorry but people ripping off investors, especially those with a history of mental health problems, commit suicide all the time.

              And I don’t get this push from people that we are suppose to expect transgender folks to pretend and hide in the shadows. My sister never ran from it. My family never ran from it. I don’t understand how transgender folks are suppose to gain wider acceptance in our society when so many people are telling them to expect the worst, don’t rock the boat, and hide.

              I fully admit, I have a completely different perspective on this than you. You are completely in the right to have a different opinion and to share it. I just don’t agree with you,

            • Danielle White

              When you say you disagree with me are you saying that Hannan had the right to disclose that information without her consent?

              I have no expectation for transgender people to take any particular position on how out to (not) be, but it is their individual decision. A third party does not get to make that choice for them.

            • Gunnut2600

              Damn right he did! She made some outrageous claims about her background, her expertise, the product she was selling, her criminal record, and her financial records. An journalist can’t function if they have to get permission from his/her subject prior to releasing any information.

              Other than her gender, which should not have been mention, pretty much everything else, he had a right as a reporter to investigate. She doesn’t get a pass for all this shit she pulled because she was transgender or because she took her life. If Barry Maddoff topped himself tomorrow, it does make him any less of an asshole because he was Jewish.

            • Danielle White

              In the context above (your message to which I replied) the only point was revealing her trans history. Are you saying the reporter had the right to do that?

            • Gunnut2600

              Oh fuck off. Seriously.

            • Danielle White

              It’s really that impossible for you to make the statement that bringing her transition into the piece was wrong?

            • Gunnut2600

              I have already said that! You seem to think that because she was transgender, no one at all was allowed to investigate or look into her backgrounds to validate any of her statements.

              This notion among Americans that lying about professional and educational qualifications and employment history is okay is dumbfounding to me. I have had to spent time in custody overseas because my former employer hired some shithead who lied about his qualifications and background, and he ended up killing some people at our site.

              Don’t tell me that its no big deal because I lived the results of this bullshit.

            • Danielle White

              I have not discussed the issue of her professional credentials, only the transition aspect and the sensationalization of it.

            • Gunnut2600

              Holy shit…you win. This is like trying to converse with a dead moose.

            • Danielle White

              You’re the one arguing that the discussion should be on the topic of revealing her professional fraud, an action that is not controversial and did not require revealing her transition, which is the controversy.

            • Gunnut2600

              So my position, that her gender history should not have been covered in the story, is grounds for you to argue that her gender history should not have been covered in the story?

              like I said…you win.

            • Danielle White

              Because this “Fuck…i suspect this all sounds like I support Hannan outing her.” was true of the comment, and the subsequent ones came off as attempting to deflect from that very issue.

            • Gunnut2600

              You are arguing for the sake of arguing. You are trolling…and since the entire point of the exchange has been to waste my time and aggravate me, which it has, you have won. Which much like everything else, I have already stated.

              I am off…. I want you to realize that I have been commenting and reading here for a very long time. I generally enjoy the community of both the writers and the readers. You are by far the worse person here I have ever attempted to interact with at this site.

    • Jon Fox

      When I read the piece, it struck me that the focus was on how Dr. V was scamming the golf world, not that she was trying to hide her sexuality and gender past. That’s where the story just ended up.

      EDIT: also, she killed herself months before the piece ran and after he cut off all contact with her. Its hard for me to connect the dots here. If she was afraid of being outed, she would have waited until the piece actually ran imo.

      • dukesirius

        I concur. I don’t think that it was insensitive at all. In fact, the reality of Dr. V being transgendered IS a twist, and one of the core revelations that changed the direction of Caleb’s reporting. Would it be less insulting if the reporter had specifically treated it with kid gloves, unlike he would with anyone else? I honestly don’t know, I’m asking.

        • Christopher Foxx

          If you were writing about the inventor of a new doohickey, and in the course of investigating found out they were privately gay, should that be part of the story?

          • Gunnut2600

            Is it a masculine dookickey? Like some new piece of shit with “Duck Dynasty” slapped on it?

          • dukesirius

            You know what, solid counterpoint, Christopher.

            I retract my previous position.

            • Christopher Foxx

              solid counterpoint, Christopher.

              I retract my previous position.

              Gracious as always. Thanks.

          • Jon Fox

            If the person was lying about their credentials and past, their personal life becomes fair game. If she was a straight woman or man and did a porn under a different name(for example), that would be fair game for a piece about someone misrepresenting themselves.

            At the end of the day, no one forced Dr. V to get in touch with the Grantland writer when McCord told her about his desire to interview her.

            • Christopher Foxx

              If the person was lying about their credentials and past, their personal life becomes fair game.

              Emphatically NO. If they were ling about their credentials then their credentials are fair game, but not their private life.

              If you were writing about someone who lied on their resume, then all of the claims on their resume become fair game. But whether they are happily married or not is irrelevant ant completely out of bounds.

            • Jon Fox

              We’ll just have to disagree here.

            • Christopher Foxx

              We’ll just have to disagree here.

              That’s usually said in a “well, I really don’t agree with your position, but I can respect that you do” context. And, I’m legitimately sorry, but I just can’t respect the position that writing about one aspect of a person’s public life means every aspect of their personal life becomes “fair game”.

              I’d hate to be the winner of the quilting contest in your town. The idea that a little profile about my favorite patterns could turn into an expose on my private life is repugnant.

            • Jon Fox

              I don’t agree with your position, but I respect that you disagree with me. And I don’t care about your characterizations about my opinions. I stand by what I wrote: if you’re going to present yourself as a fraud professionally(and so obviously a fraud), you have no right to complain when people dig into your past and the media writes about it. Especially if you’re committing this fraud on an industry that is dependent on public engagement for revenue. No one twisted Dr. V’s arm into talking with the reporter. No one. If she had something in her past that she wanted to keep secret, she should have just ignored him(or deepened the fraud by having an interloper pose as her).

              Feel free to have a final word. There’s nothing else I can say on the subject except repeating myself.

            • Christopher Foxx

              To be clear, Jon, I do respect you. We’ve had a lengthy exchange here which, despite our different views, hasn’t fallen into the woefully all to common insults that usually occur on boards like this. I appreciate that and if, despite my attempt to phrase it to convey what I meant, my reaction to “agree to disagree” came across as disrespecting you I apologize.

              By and large I agree with you that “if you’re going to present yourself as a fraud professionally(and so obviously a fraud), you have no right to complain when people dig into your past and the media writes about it.” Where I would draw the line is: if they find something about the person that is personal and unrelated to the fraud it should not be written about.

              See you around.

          • bbiemeret

            In your example above, the persons sexuality is completely irrelevant to the story. In Dr, V’s case, she created this entirely fictitious identity to deceive and fleece others. The fact that this person lied about who she was, makes the fact that she also changed her gender more relevant. Would it be relevant if we had learned that she wasn’t actually transgendered, but had only chose to disguise herself as woman, would that be relevant?

            I understand that coming out in a world of hate can be a terrifying choice to make, but if you choose to commit a crime and defraud someone, and you get investigated for it, you can’t really be upset when your personal information becomes public. If she had been criminally investigated, arrested, and tried, I guarantee that info would have become public record. Your sexuality is private, you’re gender isn’t, at least not in this case. Transgendered criminals are housed according to their gender at birth. It does create additional issues for them in prison, and most spend the majority of their time in protective custody.

            It doesn’t seem that the author, or his editors, wished ill will on her, and it doesn’t seem the revelation was vindictive or punitive, and it does add another significant twist to a very strange story. How could you not reveal it? in addition, I feel her suicide was just as likely related to being exposed as a liar and fraud, with the legal ramifications that go along with it, as it was for being outed as transgendered. As I stated above, prison can be especially hard for transgendered inmates.

            • bbiemeret

              Upon closer inspection, while it doesn’t seem she criminally defrauded anyone financially, it does seem that she at the very least stole her designs from existing club design, most likely protected by patents, which would make her civilly liable. Although her birth gender may not have be exposed in civil court, an investigation by the plaintiff would most likely have revealed it, and would have most likely been revealed to the public.

              She did have a history of attempted suicide, before Mr. Hannan ever knew who she was, which makes him being responsible, or even the catalyst, unlikely.

            • David L.

              She did have a history of attempted suicide, before Mr. Hannan ever knew who she was, which makes him being responsible, or even the catalyst, unlikely.

              Exactly my thoughts when I read the part with her first attempted suicide. I don’t think one can objectively blame the Grantland editors or Mr. Hannan for her death; while I agree with Christopher that gender and sexuality should generally belong to the private sphere (only Dr. V. herself should decide who she wants to tell and when), reading the piece didn’t feel like it was designed to be an intrusive outing of a transgender person. It was a well-researched (and well-written) exercise in investigative journalism on a subject, as Chez points out, that is usually the perfect antithesis of intrigue-inspiring. In any case, the moral dilemma was there and it wasn’t an easy one to resolve.

            • Christopher Foxx

              Although her birth gender may not have be exposed in civil court, an investigation by the plaintiff would most likely have revealed it, and would have most likely been revealed to the public.

              Eventually you’re going to die. It’s not even a “most likely” thing. It’s a certainty. So should I be able to use that as an excuse to kill you? I mean, you’re going to die at some point anyway.

              That something has a good chance of coming out in the course of other events is not an acceptable excuse for being the one to do it.

            • bbiemeret

              Again, I feel that your analogy is not quite accurate. In a court of law, many prosecutors have successfully argued that if “information” (sorry for the quotes, I don’t recall how to do bold face type in the comments) that would normally require a warrant or at least probable cause, to uncover

            • Christopher Foxx

              In a court of law, many prosecutors have successfully argued that if “information” (sorry for the quotes, I don’t recall how to do bold face type in the comments) that would normally require a warrant or at least probable cause to uncover, would have been inevitably revealed through some other legal course of action, that information can be made relevant.

              Bold is turned on with and off with (without the spaces on either side of the “b”).

              In a court of law, when arguing “inevitable discovery” prosecutors still ahve to show the information is relevant. That they would inevitably find out a person is, for example, a closeted gay man is not something they could then present in court if it had nothing whatever to do with the case.

              Take your example of a fire in a neighbor’s house leading to discovery of illegal marijuana plants. Suppose, in the course of fighting the fre and any subsequent search (which, I’m not sure is really legal but I don’t want to get distracted by that tangent) the police found a diary in which you admitted you were gay. WHile they might be able to argue that the diary would be inevitable discovered, they would not be successful in arguing that the content related to your sexuality (which had nothing to do with the crime) was admissable.

              My point stands.

            • bbiemeret

              I feel our disagreement lies in the fact that you choose to equate one’s sexuality or sexual preference, with gender (thanks for the tip), which are similar, can overlap, and can cause confusion. I believe gender and sexuality are related, but separate, and I can cite various instances where this is true. For example, on any government issued identification (I.D. card, driver’s license, passport), you are required to state your gender, but not your sexuality. My D.L. says I’m male, but not wether I’m gay or straight.

              You insist that the subject’s sexuality was irrelevant to the story. Maybe, maybe not. If you were writing a story about a particular person, and researched that person’s history to add biographical information to the story for depth, and discovered they were a partner in a heterosexual relationship (married, dating, etc…), would it be unethical to include said information, knowing it would at least imply their sexuality? And if not, why should that change if the relationship is a homosexual one? I know there is a social stigma attached to homosexuality, but here in America, where this story took place, being gay is not a crime, and even widely accepted in some areas (Hillcrest, West Hollywood, Castro District, just to name a few I’m familiar with in CA). In some places, there is a social stigma attached to being inter-racial. Does that make reporting the details of a subject’s lineage unethical?

              I believe sexuality to be about who you are physically or emotionally attracted to, while gender is about your personal identity. I feel that, as it became clear this person fabricated many details about her identity, including her education and employment history, the fact that she altered her sexual identity becomes relevant as well.

              Look, I don’t mean to seem insensitive or unsympathetic. Heaven knows I’ve had my own similar issues (see inter-racial remark above). But it is what it is.

              By the way, I understand that with your “inevitable death” analogy, you were trying to illustrate a point, but I’d like to believe that I am fairly intelligent, and to me, it came off as a bit of a straw-man argument.

            • Christopher Foxx

              If you were writing a story about a particular person, and researched that person’s history to add biographical information to the story for depth, and discovered they were a partner in a heterosexual relationship (married, dating, etc…), would it be unethical to include said information, knowing it would at least imply their sexuality?

              If the relationship was something that they might not want made public then, yes.

              Your hypothetical situation is somewhat skewed. If you were adding biographical information to add depth, then the biographical information is not the focus of the piece. So, personal info not relevant to the story, particularly info the subject had kept private, should not be included.

              Here’s a possible test: How would the person likely respond if you told them you were publishing the info? “You’re going to mention that I’m in a relationship? We’ll I haven’t been broadcasting it but it’s also not something I’ve been keeping secret.” vs. a concerned “How did you find out about that?!!”

              I know there is a social stigma attached to homosexuality, but here in America, where this story took place, being gay is not a crime, and even widely accepted in some areas

              It is in the eyes of many people. A crime punishable by death in the minds of some. Even here in America. And that it’s widely accepted in some areas is utterly irrelevant. “You over there don’t get to be closeted because in my neighborhood we have no problems with gays.”?? No. What information gets disclosed about an individual’s private life is not decided by public vote. That’s the whole meaning of private life.

            • bbiemeret

              Your still choosing to equate sexual preference with gender. The two are related but different. Your sexual preference is something that can be kept from others, your gender isn’t (unless you’re Pat from SNL). What is your position on this point (not regarding Pat)?

              Also, we aren’t debating whether or not it was a “nice” or “friendly” thing to do, we are debating whether it was ethical or not. Was the journalist who exposed Larry Craig’s infamous “airport bathroom stall” incident, which implied that he was homosexual, unethical? Or does the fact that he was a hypocrite who advocated and legislated against gays make the fact that he engaged in similar behavior relevant?

              Journalists often expose things that their subjects might not want revealed, private matters that would certainly cause issues for them. Does that automatically make it unethical? That seems to be your argument.

              You can change your name legally. Maybe you had a reputation for whatever, and you wanted to leave that behind. Is it then unethical to report at a later date that you go by a different name?

              Also, you keep referring to the information as information the subject wanted to keep private. As the information was gleaned from a source other than the subject, subject must have revealed that information to someone else, making claims of privacy somewhat irrelevant. As long as that source was not protected information (i.e. medical records illegally obtained, etc…), it’s fair game. Just look at all the Facebook idiots who post things they only wanted to share with their Facebook friends, only to find they are the brunt of a national flame campaign.

              I get it. Potentially embarrassing information about a person was revealed to the public, and the humiliation may have caused the person to take their own life. It’s sad, and I can understand you might want to sympathize. Maybe this story hits close to home, creating an inherent bias in your opinion, who knows. But it seems to me your argument is an emotional one, not a logical one.

              The fact is that unlike what gender you are attracted to, gender reassignment isn’t really something you can expect to keep completely private, and knowing this may be one of the reasons transgendered people have difficulty making the decision to switch. Everyone knows that Lana Wachoski was once Larry Wachoski. Once she became Lana, Larry didn’t just cease to exist. She had a history and relationships, and unless she faked her death or something, people were gonna know she chose to change her gender. You may argue it was her decision to reveal that information, but I would ask how could she have ever kept it private.

              This is probably one of those ares we may just have to agree to disagree. I tend to be somewhat cold in my calculations at times, and in this instance i feel you’re playing Bones to my Spock (sorry for the geek reference). I totally respect your opinion, and I do enjoy the debate.

            • Christopher Foxx

              Your still choosing to equate sexual preference with gender.

              I don’t see where you’re seeing that. I don’t think I’ve made any reference to gender. I’ve been talking about whether an individual’s private life should be made public by someone her than that individual. Specifically, their orientation. I don’t see that I’ve brought gender into it.

            • bbiemeret

              I’ll try to clarify my point one last time.

              “I don’t think I’ve made any reference to gender. I’ve been talking about whether an individual’s private life should be made public by someone her than that individual. Specifically, their orientation. I don’t see that I’ve brought gender into it”.

              Merriam-Webster defines sexual orientation as: “the inclination of an individual with respect to heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual behavior. This information was never revealed in the original column. The information that was revealed pertained to her gender. One’s gender is not private information, and neither is the fact that one changed their gender at some point. All it would take is a public records search for anyone to discover that Essay Anne Vanderbilt, a woman, used to be Stephen Krol, a man. Potentially humiliating, yes. Private, no. Sorry, that’s just who I see it.

              Another way to look at it is this. A person decides to have somewhat obvious plastic surgery (boob job, lipo, etc…). The medical records pertaining to the surgery are private, protected records. But everyone who knows them knows that they had the surgery, because they look somewhat obviously different than they used to. Maybe the person is ashamed to admit they had surgery (this is common among celebrities). That doesn’t make the information anymore private.

              I guess all I’m really saying is, I don’t feel the editors of Grantland, nor the author of the story, were in the wrong, and I don’t think they truly believe they were either. Yes, they drafted an extensive apology, but they still have the story up on their site. No matter how tragic the story ended, and it was tragic, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have been told.

      • Christopher Foxx

        If she was afraid of being outed, she would have waited until the piece actually ran imo.

        If she was afraid of being outed, that fear wouldn’t wait for the piece to be published. If someone believes their life is going to be ruined tomorrow, expecting them not to be afraid until tomorrow is unrealistic.

        • Jon Fox

          Of course we just have his word on it, but I didn’t see where he said that he was ever going to report on that. The closest we got was that he refused to sign her proposed non-disclosure agreement, but that would cover her credentials fraud(which is why I think she killed herself).

          The problem is that she clearly was a mentally unstable person long before the grantland writer showed up in her life. And if she was found out as a fraud in the golfing world(no matter her sexuality), her career would be over and her product would be forgotten.

          • Danielle White

            His actions spoke louder when he outed her to her investor, which was before she committed suicide. It’s by no means outrageous to believe that information may have reached her (and Hannan could hardly expect the investor would inherently see a reason to be more circumspect about sharing that information than he had been.)

            Having done so creates a reasonable belief by the subject that, absent information to the contrary (which we have no evidence Hannan gave Dr. V and, given his actions as of that point plus how he ultimately viewed it, such assurance seems doubtful,) the author intends to include that in the article.