Quantcast
Connect with us

Top Romney aide outed transgender woman in political smear

Published

on

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.

Eric Fehrnstrom, a top aide and political strategist to presumptive Republican presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney (MA), made headlines earlier this year with a gaffe comparing Romney in the primary fight to an “Etch a Sketch” that you can flip over and shake and start over with as a blank slate in the general election. Before he was an adviser to Romney, Fehrnstrom was a political columnist for the Boston Herald. According to a profile in GQ, in 1992, he outed recently-elected Massachusetts Rep. Althea Garrison (R) as a transgender woman, effectively ending her political career.

ADVERTISEMENT

To Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, the malicious outing and the presence of Fehrnstrom on Romney’s staff is simply unacceptable.

“Privacy for transgender people is a matter of survival, physical and economic survival,” Keisling told Raw Story, “Once you out a trans person, you can’t just ‘Etch a Sketch’ it away.”

Fehrnstrom made his name in Boston as a “blue-collar conservative” columnist whose hard-hitting style got him moved from sports reporting to the political beat at the Rupert Murdoch-owned Herald, which was the splashy, tabloid-style counterpart to the more staid Boston Globe. He and his fellow reporter Howie Carr brought what GQ called a “nasty and resentful” tone to the paper’s political reportage, making the Herald a kind of perfect weapon against the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, gormless former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

It was for a local official, however, that Fehrnstrom reserved one of his nastiest political hits. Althea Garrison was a Boston politician and activist who was elected as a Republican to the Massachusetts state House in 1992. Two days after her election victory, Fehrnstrom published an article in the Herald announcing that Garrison had been born male.

“I can remember his glee when he found the birth certificate,” said a former Herald reporter named Robert Connolly.

ADVERTISEMENT

Garrison’s career in politics was over. Speculation had previously gone around the community about Garrison’s gender status, but after Fehrnstrom’s story, it became her defining characteristic to the media. In every mention of her name in the press, her performance as a House member was overshadowed by her gender identity. Howie Carr, who is now a conservative talk show host, wrote in the Herald not long after the outing, “I’ve always liked Althea. She has a big heart. Not to mention big feet. And very, very big hands.”

The outing of Althea Garrison raises serious questions about the culture of the Romney campaign, where Fehrnstrom operates as a privileged member of the command team and as Romney’s longest-serving, most-trusted political strategist. It has been said that if Karl Rove was “Bush’s brain,” then Fehrnstrom is “Romney’s balls.”

Mara Keisling told Raw Story that Ferhnstrom’s campaign against Garrison is “just more bullying. It’s an invasion of privacy. We’ve had five or six hate murders of trans people across the U.S. just in the last six weeks.” She said that these kinds of tactics represent the worst form of transphobia, describing it as “putting people at risk just because you get your jollies from it.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Also, in recent days, stories of violent, homophobic “pranks” during Romney’s prep school years have come to light, incidents which the candidate claims not to remember, but for which he issued a shallow, blanket apology, “There’s no question that I did some stupid things in high school and, obviously, if I hurt anyone by virtue of that I would be very sorry for it and apologize for it.”

To Fehrnstrom, on the other hand, the careers and reputations he savaged were of little consequence. In a 1999 article he wrote for Boston magazine, he said, “In my trade, politics was never personal. Hell, people were rarely people — they were ducks in a shooting gallery.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Althea Garrison herself refuses to speak about the experience of being outed by Fernstrom. Raw Story reached her by telephone, but when the former state representative realized that the person on the phone was a reporter asking about Fehrnstrom, she ended the discussion.

“I don’t have time for this today,” she said, and hung up.

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2012

Mike Pompeo wants to classify international human rights groups as ‘anti-Semitic’: report

Published

on

On Wednesday, Politico and The Washington Post reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is proposing several major international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Oxfam, be classified as "anti-Semitic" groups — and that a formal declaration could come later this week at the earliest, with the intention of preventing other governments around the world from working with them.

Continue Reading

2012

A harsh lesson for Trump: He can’t beat the virus — and even his followers know it

Published

on

The reviews are in and President Trump's ballyhooed return to the stage this past weekend in Tulsa was a dud. After three months on hiatus, with nothing but the increasingly disastrous coronavirus press briefings to keep him in shape, the president turned in a very shaky performance. Even his greatest hits, like "Lock her up" and "Build that wall," couldn't bring the magic.The campaign and the White House had relentlessly hyped this return, telling the media that they had a million RSVPs for the event and even planned an outdoor overflow venue where the president was slated to make a surprise visit before he entered the main stage. But the huge crowd failed to materialize and the outdoor event was hastily scrapped as it became apparent they wouldn't even come close to filling the indoor arena. Local fire marshals estimated the crowd at a little over 6,000, less than one-third the arena's capacity and 40,000 short of the crowd they anticipated outside.
Continue Reading
 

2012

Coronavirus is fostering a culture of no touching — a psychologist explains why that’s a problem

Published

on

Touch has profound benefits for human beings. But over the last few decades, people have becomeincreasingly cautious about socially touching others for a range of reasons. With the novel coronavirus spreading, this is bound to get worse. People have already started avoiding shaking hands. And the British queen was seen wearing gloves as a precautionnot to contract the virus.The coronavirus could very well have long-term implications for how hands-on we are – reinforcing already existing perceptions that touch should be avoided.Why is touch so important? It helps us share how we feel about othe... (more…)

Continue Reading