(CBS SF) -- Science Magazine is at the helm of a social and political firestorm this month following a cover image the publication used for the July 11 issue which depicts two transgender sex workers with their heads cropped out.
Many have already lashed out at the magazine for being sexist and objectifying, according to The Adovcate. Now Congresswoman Jackie Speier is adding fuel to fire with a letter she sent to the magazine's executive publisher last week.
"The July 11 issue of Science Magazine featured a lurid cover photograph of transgender women in tight dresses and high heels with their heads cropped out of the frame," her letter said. "The use of headless, sexualized women of color on the cover of the most prestigious science publication in the United States sends the message that women and minorities still do not fully belong in the 'boy's club' of science."
The California Democrat also points out comments the magazine's career editor Jim Austin made on Twitter.
"The choice of cover was made even worse by Science editor Jim Austin's comments suggesting that if men were drawn in by the exposed legs and tight dresses, it would be 'interesting' to see how they felt once they discovered the women were transgender," she wrote. "The prevalence of the 'trans panic' defense, in which perpetrators of violent crimes justify their actions by claiming shock at the identity of a trans person, make this an abysmal motivation for Science's choice of cover are, particularly since transgender people are disproportionately subject to hate crimes. I appreciate the apology from Science's editor-in-chief, but question how such a sexist, racist, and transphobic cover was selected in the first place."
Science editor-in-chief Marcia McNutt issued a statement on the magazine's website shortly after, defending the cover choice.
"The cover showing transgender sex workers in Jakarta was selected after much discussion by a large group and was not intended to offend anyone, but rather to highlight the fact that there are solutions for the AIDS crisis for this forgotten but at-risk group," McNutt wrote. "A few have indicated to me that the cover did exactly that, but more have indicated the opposite reaction: that the cover was offensive because they did not have the context of the story prior to viewing it, an important piece of information that was available to those choosing the cover."
She ends her note apologizing for "any discomfort that this cover may have caused anyone, and promise that we will strive to do much better in the future to be sensitive to all groups and not assume that context and intent will speak for themselves."
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