Recently a full page article ran in our newspaper about an inventor, Essay Anne Vanderbilt, who created a putter in 2009 called the Oracle GX1 that was termed ‘revolutionary’ to the world of golf. She created a company named Yar Golf to market the putter. According to the reviews it has a ‘sweet spot’ that is almost two inches square as compared to the ‘pin size’ sweet spot of most putters. It was designed ‘to be more responsive to the golfer’s movement and less resistant to the body’s twist.’ According to the article, the design was brilliant and her passion to make sure the putter was properly fit to the buyer serious. Words used to describe her were ‘brilliant’ ‘stunning’ and ‘an amazing lady.’ That is the good news, incredible news really.
Now for the rest of the story. It seems that last spring an over zealous freelance reporter covering the story of this amazing putter was not satisfied to focus on the product alone. Even though Essay had requested the reporter focus on ‘the science, not the scientist,’ he continued to dig deeper into her credentials and background. When the story broke recently it seems there were no records to substantiate her scientific credentials nor career experience. Yet the amazing putter, the actual product and topic that was suppose to be the real story became a secondary issue.
On October 18, 2013 she was found dead…committed suicide…according to her friend who attributed the suicide “90% to the reporting of the story.” You see, Essay was born male but by age nine identified in all ways as female except physically. Fifty years later she decided to undergo surgery to change her physical body to match her mental and emotional orientation. She went through all the challenges … according to a post operative patient-care assistant that involved emotional, spiritual and personal work to allow herself the opportunity to live a more authentic life.
Did she ‘create’ a past involving her educational training, credentials and work experience? Maybe so. Was there a different way to go about things? Maybe so. Was there reason for the reporter to delve into her background when she had personally requested that he ‘focus on the science not the scientist’ ABSOLUTELY NOT.
The article went on to say that ‘journalists who don’t frequently write about issues of gender identity can find the subject particularly complex and nuanced.’ That sounds shallow at best and more likely a weak excuse for shabby reporting. I asked myself, where is the integrity? Where is the feeling, the obligation even, to stop and evaluate how the impact of this type of story could effect someone’s life? Where is the heart? Does it simply boil down to journalistic sensationalism?
Essay is finally at peace. Maybe her life was more about teaching all of us lessons …you know the one about ‘judge not less ye be judged’ than about golf. She is in a better place. The freelance reporter, however, will have to live with this for the rest of his life.
In the meantime, golfer’s choosing to improve their game may decide to purchase the Oracle GX1 and most likely will never know the life that was ultimately lost in the process. Maybe that is the way Essay would prefer it to happen.
Tolerance, acceptance and love are more than mere words written on a page, they are life lessons that we are all striving to learn. Katherine Anne Porter, an American author wrote, ‘Love must be learned, and learned again and again; there is no end to it…’
Make it a great few days!