Caleb Hannan wrote a wanna-be-gonzo journalist-as-protagonist article outing a trans woman, shortly after that woman committed suicide after explicitly warning Hannan that his journalism was leaving her no other option: a woman who was resolutely clear about keeping her public life separate from her private life (how dare she!) and giving permission for interviews to focus only on the golf club she’d invented and not any other aspect of her life.
During the course of the article Hannan repeatedly misgendered Dr V and made a point of revealing her pre-transition name, he also outed her trans history to an investor he was purportedly interviewing about the golf club. He justified this because he discovered that Dr V had padded her resume with respect to her academic achievements and previous work as a physicist, and thus he regarded her other secrets as fair game. Hannan also now doesn’t like to use the golf club that he initially was extremely positive about, perhaps because his unacknowledged transphobia and transmisogny (and maybe just a tiny bit of guilt and shame?) make him feel uncomfortable about it now.
It is not the mandate of a writer to keep pursuing a private citizen’s secrets (secrets which have exactly no impact on the product you are writing about, nor on anything else public good) until they kill themselves. This is not an honorable act.
Caleb Hannan has committed an utterly reprehensible failure to emulate an ethical human being. Grantland’s ethical failure in publishing Hannan’s article is equally appalling.
P.S. As I was googling images to use for the index thumbnail, I saw several screenshots of books and papers asking questions about whether ethics can ever be adequately instilled in a person who has not first been acculturated to value empathy and compassion. That strikes me as an excellent question to be asking.
[P.P.S. 4:45am: My initial version of this post made very little mention of Dr V (I didn’t name her) because I wanted to focus on Hannan’s awfulness. Overnight I became uncomfortable that I was contributing to the broader social pattern of trans erasure and dehumanisation by not including more about her in this article about the man who drove her to her death, so I have rewritten the post to redress this. I apologise for not thinking the erasure issue through more fully before I first published.]