‘Please Don’t Misgender Me’: Reporter Apologizes After Calling Transgender PA Health Secretary ‘Sir’


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A Pittsburgh radio station talk show host was rebuked by Pennsylvania’s health department secretary, who is transgender, for misgendering the secretary during a press call, Penn Live reported. 

Marty Griffin, the host of KDKA-AM, called Dr. Rachel Levine “sir” during a conference call with reporters Tuesday, according to Penn Live

Griffin was asking a question about the different phases the state is implementing to ease stay-at-home orders, and said “sir” twice. Levine responded by telling Griffin “please don’t misgender me,” and that it was “really insulting.”

Griffin apologized multiple times, and self-corrected once to say ma’am.

He also later apologized on Twitter, saying multiple distractions caused him to use the wrong pronouns and that his actions weren’t intentional.

I apologize. I apologized twice. I truly did. It was not intentional. It was not. I was not focused. I was doing six things at once. https://t.co/cdBO9r1iF8

— Marty Griffin (@MartyGriffinKD) May 12, 2020

The incident later caused Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to decide to cancel a scheduled appearance on KDKA Radio, the mayor’s spokesperson told Pittsburgh City Paper. Peduto criticized the KDKA station as having changed from “good people who made us proud to be from Pittsburgh” to “shock-jocks, sensationalism & worse.”

Cancelled interview w/ Lynne Hayes-Freeland for tomorrow. Not upset w/her, she’s always been a fair, strong journalist. But will not support @KDKARadio behavior. Growing up, KDKA had good people who made us proud to be from Pittsburgh. Now, it shock-jocks, sensationalism & worse.

— bill peduto (@billpeduto) May 12, 2020

Griffin was criticized in 2007 for his reporting on a Pittsburgh-area Presbyterian pastor, possibly outing him as gay after KDKA began running teasers including Griffin confronting the pastor at an adult book store.

The station decided not to air the story, explaining that the pastor, Brent Dugan, may be a danger to himself. The pastor had gone missing, and died by suicide, according to Pittsburgh City Paper.

Levine’s mother moved out of a personal care home with the health secretary’s help after Levine had ordered all nursing homes and long-term facilities in the state to accept coronavirus patients from hospitals, the secretary admitted Tuesday, creating outrage over the conditions residents of these facilities must face without recourse. (RELATED: PA Health Secretary Moved Mother Out Of Personal Care Home After Ordering Nursing Homes To Accept COVID Patients)

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