Studio 10 host Sarah Harris has apologised for deadnaming, misgendering and laughing at Oscar-nominated Juno actor Elliot Page on yesterday’s episode of the troubled morning show. She really hit a home run for bald-faced insensitivity there.
In the segment discussing Page coming out as trans, Harris used women’s pronouns and complained that his transition was “confusing”. The episode is not currently available on 10play.
After being called out on Twitter, Harris owned her mistake overnight. “I totally stuffed this up,” she wrote, adding she was thinking about what was up next instead of about what she was saying in the moment. “I completely mishandled this. I unreservedly apologise and will do so on the show tomorrow.”
On Studio 10 today, Sarah Harris apologised for her language on the show, describing it as “just a brain snap” and saying that she wanted to “own [her] mistakes”. “I completely stuffed up the pronouns. I got flustered. I tried to make a joke and move on.
“Looking back, that was pretty insensitive. It was a genuine mistake and I’m so sorry.”
When entertainment reporter Angela Bishop said that people knew she hadn’t acted with “malice”, Harris added that “lots of people” had told her she didn’t need to apologise. “I felt really lousy and I would hate to have anyone feel like I was attacking them in that way.”
Elliot Page came out as trans yesterday morning in a heartfelt post to social media. “I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot. I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life.
“I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer… To all trans people who deal with harassment, self-loathing, abuse and the threat of violence every day: I see you, I love you and I will do everything I can to change this world for the better.”
While many celebrated yesterday just how many outlets immediately posted Page’s statement with sensitivity and care, and without deadnaming him, Harris’ quick, thoughtless remarks demonstrate just how far Australian morning TV has to go.
But her immediate apology shows that it’s possible for people who do something wrong in the public sphere to cop to it and not try to explain away hurtful behaviour, but to instead offer a sincere apology and actually take on board people’s valid criticisms.