Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and Megyn Kelly mocked the physical appearance of a transgender inmate, repeatedly referring to her as a “he” and joking that she isn't attractive enough to be in danger of sexual assault.
During the January 11 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly and Kelly discussed a transgender inmate in Massachusetts - Michelle Kosilek - who successfully sued the state in order to acquire gender reassignment surgery while in prison. After criticizing the state for covering the cost of Kosilek's surgery, O'Reilly turned to mocking her appearance, repeatedly referring to her as a male:
O'REILLY: My question is, in the promo, couldn't they do a better job for a million bucks than this guy? Look, there he is. For a million you figure he might look like Annette Funicello or somebody. I don't know.
KELLY: Listen, let's not forget.
KELLY: He's in a male prison.
O'REILLY: Alright, but I don't think he's in any danger-
KELLY: I bet he looks pretty good.
O'REILLY: No. Even in a male prison, he doesn't. But for a million bucks, that's what we get? I don't know. Alright.
KELLY: The surgery hasn't been performed yet, Bill.
O'REILLY: It hasn't.
KELLY: He only has breasts and the hair now.
O'REILLY: I think that might be a little bit too much information.
O'Reilly typically has no problem making LGBT people the target of his jokes, but the segment is a shocking change of tone for Kelly, who has previously defended transgender people, noting that they “have it really, really hard.” It seems that not even Kelly can resist Fox's obsession with bullying LGBT people.
Transphobic bullying aside, the segment also trivializes the often life-and-death issue of providing transgender inmates with appropriate medical treatment. Major medical organizations, along with a number of U.S. courts, have already recognized the dire consequences of denying treatment to transgender inmates.
The segment also downplays - and even mocks - the horrific problem of sexual assault against transgender inmates in prison. A study by the Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project found that in 2006, 59 percent of transgender inmates reported being sexually assaulted in prison, as compared to 4 percent of the general prison population, oftentimes as a result of being misgendered and placed in the wrong facilities.