Transphobic Rochester Radio Host: ‘Freedom of Speech Includes the Freedom to Offend Others’


Radio host Kimberly of Rochester 98.9's Kimberly & Beck 'Breakfast Buzz' show tweeted this shortly after our story broke about the duo's disturbing transphobic segment.

The Empire State Pride Agenda has also released a statement:

The following can be attributed to Empire State Pride Agenda’s Executive Director Nathan M. Schaefer:

“The ignorant and transphobic segment that recently aired on Rochester’s radio show, “The Breakfast Buzz” with Kimberly & Beck, is highly offensive to New York’s LGBT community. The segment, aired in response to Rochester’s announcement at our Spring Dinner on Saturday that municipal employees will have access to transition-related healthcare, contains sound bite after sound bite of misinformation and hate speech.
Not only did the hosts conflate sexual orientation and gender identity and make the ill-informed leap from medically-necessary care to elective surgery, they also degraded LGBT identities more generally, including the outrageous contention that transgender people are “nut jobs.”
Transgender individuals face disproportionate disparities when it comes to their health and well-being, including this type of harassment as we’ve seen on “The Breakfast Buzz.” The American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and many other organizations agree that transition-related health care is medically necessary and should be covered under public insurance plans. Providing transgender New Yorkers with medically necessary health care is actually a cost-saving measure. Taxpayers will likely see savings related to mental health, suicide attempts, HIV, substance abuse and other costs that occur when transgender people cannot get their transition-related health care needs met.
Rochester’s announcement that city employees will be covered is positive news that should not be misguided by the ignorance of radio hosts looking for ratings. This offensive segment underscores the need for increased education and for the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), so that all New Yorkers know it’s not acceptable to discriminate against someone just because of who they are.
We call on the radio show and its hosts to issue a formal apology immediately and to seek the education we’re extending on issues of importance to its transgender and gender non-conforming residents.”


  1. Alex Parrish says

    It certainly does mean that you are free to offend — but it does NOT mean that you are free of the consequences of that speech. Until the government arrests you for saying something, you have exercised that freedom. If, however, the consequences of that speech are that people don’t want to associate with you, or buy products you endorse, well, that is NOT a freedom of speech issue — that is merely the consequences coming back to bite you in the ass. Don’t whine “Freedom of Speech” when all you really desire is to be free of consequences.

  2. says

    Just finished watching a news report about a Navy Seal who transitioned from male to female. It showed him, big male bulky body and all, walking on the beach in a woman’s bikini saying, “I am who I am.”

    I feel sorry for any child on the beach who had to see that.

  3. says

    I’m rather enjoying watching the Twitterverse slap this bigoted piece of work down. The responses to her tweet are quite priceless.

  4. MichaelJ says

    Ditto what Alex Parrish wrote. I’ll add only that freedom of speech also means that people can exercise their own freedom of speech to criticize someone else’s speech, explain why it is offensive, reveal the ignorance, dishonesty and malice behind the speech, and attempt to persuade others to distance themselves from that someone else because of their speech, whatever the consequences may be.

  5. Hey Darlin' says

    @ alex parrish

    Exactly what I was thinking.

    It seems that this is new tactic of the fringe right wingers. The whole “free speech” movement and using it as a defense for foul comments is the new “won’t someone think of the children”. There’s no violation of free speech when you ask for someone to explain their bigotry either, though they can’t.

    With the use of the first amendment, they are most likely trying to peg us as un-American, but nothing is more constitutionally un-American than having different classes of citizens and choosing which to deny equality to.

    The use of the jargon “free speech” only tells us which groups these hosts have been frequenting, as it is used by fringe right wingers who would love to paint us as un-American. The right wingers would also love nothing more than for another radio host or two, as in this case, to join their cause.

  6. Sean says

    I’m actually starting to like this Kimberly. You trans bullies all up in arms are actually starting to make some of gays hate you. Just because you shout louder & talk more, doesn’t mean you’re right.

  7. Sean says

    I’m actually starting to like this Kimberly. You trans bullies all up in arms are actually starting to make some of gays hate you. Just because you shout louder & talk more, doesn’t mean you’re right.

  8. reader says

    Alex (first comment) said it perfectly. As for Sean (comment above this), dude, straight people said the same thing about you not that long ago. You’re pretty sad.

  9. Tyler says

    Sean, the next time someone calls you a f_ ggot or makes fun of you for being gay, don’t you dare call them out for it. By your logic, doing so would be bullying.

    Or is it only considered bullying when the people fighting back are people you think are icky/the rights people are standing up for aren’t legitimate in your eyes?

    Since you obviously loathe the presence of Trans people, you seem slightly biased about the definition of “bullying.”

  10. Cran says

    @Sean – Your comment is confusing.

    Kimberly is indeed a trans bully and indeed people who believe in equality and dignity for all people find her comments repugnant.

    I, do indeed hate intolerance, like so many other LGBT who have experienced it.

    Is this what you’re trying to say?

  11. Jack M says

    It’s funny how these ignorant individuals cling to the First Amendment as their excuse to belittle others. Miss Kimberly should go out and do some shots so she can put her three remaining brain cells out of their misery.

  12. Tony says

    I’m not sure this “free speech” argument is really new. They’ve been using it forever. Just like how if they cloak their ignorance in religious language, they scream freedom of religion when you condemn them for it.

  13. Hank says

    Two separate issues here. Sounds like the radio segment in question was awful, and should be called out, and rebutted. AND just looking at the tweet as a stand-alone statement, I agree with it completely. Let’s not forget that for most of the history of the LGBT movement, LGBT visibility and advocacy has often been characterized or considered offensive speech ipso facto. And still is, in much of the world, and many parts of our own country. We abandon the principle of free speech at our peril.

  14. Ken says

    It is worth repeating until it sinks in to the public consciousness. Freedom of speech — like the various other freedoms enumerated — are to guarantee that the citizens are not imposed upon by the government. So, the freedom is speech guarantees that the government will not bar the citizen from exercising his or her right to speak his or her mind (assuming, incorrectly, binary genders). So, when a bakery hollers “Freedom of religion” — uh, no. And when a radio host hollers “Freedom of speech” — uh, no.

  15. Sean says

    No Tyler. When i hear someone saying something about gays on tv or radio or online i don’t agree with, i’ll either leave a comment or ignore it. I won’t be calling their bosses demanding they’re fired.I won’t be on twitter getting everyone to spam them. I believe that they have the right to disagree with my viewpoint,as i have the right to switch them off & ignore them.Stop this whole loathing of trans people bull (Disagree & you’re against us)What i’m against is strong-arm tactics from ANYONE.

  16. Zell says

    Hank’s comment is spot-on. Yes, technically, it’s not a violation of free speech to fire someone because of something they say. Perfectly legal. But doesn’t that mean it’s also legal to fire someone for voicing support for transgendered people, or gay marriage, or anything else? Let’s not get caught up in the thinking that just because something is legal, it’s also ethical.

    This host sounds like an awful person, but her tweet is correct enough. I’m not going to lament if she’s fired, but it does set an uncomfortable precedent.

  17. Gregory in Seattle says

    What these idiots like to forget is that freedom of speech also includes responding to speech you do not like, in ways that include public criticism and boycotts.

  18. AuthlimofXvim says

    We’re so sensitive about issues like this because the tone and content of their segment is exactly the way LGBTI people were covered by the media in the past.
    Her response about free speech is correct, though you have to wonder what would have happened if they had talked about Christianity,Judaism or race in such a manner.
    Pretty sure that that terse comment wouldn’t have cut it.
    Its always freedom of speech to you until something you care about gets denigrated.
    How is it that their freedom of speech is more important than ours? Last I checked there is no Christian country that is a Theocracy. The sort of order those states propose harm all groups who have differing views. Its easy to live in a (relatively) free society and complain about your rights under your constitution while you conveniently forget all the duties the come with those rights

  19. Me says

    I hate to say it…but we’re giving attention to a radio host in freakin Rochester that probably makes about $35,000 a year and is lucky to make a few extra bucks as the announcer at the local Chili Cook Off.

    She’s living in her own hell. I wouldn’t expect any more from her except for those type of low life, white trash comments. She is what she is.

  20. edude says

    I wrote to that station after listening to the segment.

    I also looked up real world examples of other radio hosts who got into hot water and were terminated from their jobs.

    Lots of examples, lots of reasons, including offensive and ill-advised comments!

    June, 2013: An Australian radio host was fired after quizzing Prime Minister Julia Gillard about her partner’s sexuality, prompting her to warn that such probing could discourage women from entering public life.

    June, 2013: ATLANTA — The cast of an Atlanta sports radio show has been fired after mocking a former NFL player who has Lou Gehrig’s disease, a station official said Monday.

    October, 2012: COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – A Columbus sports talk-show host who was suspended after he tweeted he wished ESPN’s Desmond Howard would get fired or die has been dismissed by his station.

    June, 2013: Conservative Calgary radio commentator Dave Rutherford’s rants have angered a lot of people in the course of his long illustrious career – a lot – but his latest salvo has cost him his job.
    The host of The Rutherford Show, which until Monday aired on AM770 CHQR, was fired after he criticized the radio station’s parent company Corus Radio, for its coverage of the floods that have ravaged Calgary, and many neighbouring communities, over the last six days.

    February, 2014: A popular Pennsylvania radio host claims she wasn’t fired from her job Tuesday because of poor performance, but instead was terminated because of the disruptive actions of her deranged ex-husband…………………
    Lane, who had a show on two Forever Broadcasting stations in Johnstown, says the termination letter she received — and partially read aloud to WJAC-TV — doesn’t mention poor performance as a factor in letting her go.
    “Regrettably recent events involving your former husband has caused severe disruption to our business and has made this decision necessary,” the letter said, according to Lane.

    March, 2006: ST. LOUIS – A St. Louis radio station wasted no time firing a talk show host for using a racial epithet to describe Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on his morning show Wednesday.

    August, 2005: It didn’t take long for talk-show host Michael Graham to find another job after he was fired last week by ABC Radio for his comments linking Islam to terror.

    November, 2013: Dan Sileo, a former Miami Hurricanes football player and a radio talk show host, was fired by Miami radio station WMEN on Monday after he put out a bounty on a Florida State football player on Twitter.
    Sileo posted a photo of Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan on his personal Twitter account with an offer of $1,000 to anyone who “takes this kid out.”

    February, 2012: XX Radio host Scott Kaplan has been fired after making disparaging remarks about a female broadcaster for the Mountain West’s television network.
    The station announced Kaplan “has officially left the organization” without giving a reason for his sudden departure. But a station source who was not authorized to discuss the matter said Kaplan was fired.
    Kaplan’s comments drew outrage after being reported last week in UT San Diego. On his daily sports talk radio show Jan. 25, Kaplan called Mountain West studio analyst Andrea Lloyd a “beast,” an “animal,” a “monster” and a “sasquatch of a woman.”

    June, 2013: A top-rated radio talk-show host known for his challenges of President Obama’s eligibility for office as well as his interest in Bible history has been fired after reportedly getting into a “violent” confrontation with his own longtime producer…………….
    “Boyles talked a lot about history, and he even read books! But in the end, how could you like the guy? He stood for nothing beyond weird nihilism and his Arbitron rating. Why would such an intelligent person spend so much time fomenting anger and hatred toward undocumented immigrants, who are actually one group of people who might, through Boyles’ audience, feel the effects of his venom?
    “His repeated attacks on Muslims were equally gross. And why did he spend so much time trashing journalism? … You got a sense of what Boyles could have been when he defended gays. But soon enough, he’d been talking birth certificates and social security numbers again.”

    July, 2003: NEW YORK (AP) — MSNBC on Monday fired Michael Savage for anti-gay comments.
    The popular radio talk show host who did a weekend TV show for the cable channel referred to an unidentified caller to his show Saturday as a “sodomite” and said he should “get AIDS and die.”
    “His comments were extremely inappropriate and the decision was an easy one,” MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines said.

    August, 2010: An Arkansas radio personality announced that she was fired Monday, two days after wearing a Florida Gators hat to an Arkansas Hogs news conference.

    Renee Gork announced on Twitter that she had been fired by KAKS, a northwest Arkansas radio station that calls itself Hog Sports Radio. Gork had worn a Gator hat Saturday to a news conference with Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino.

    April, 2007: Syndicated radio host Don Imus was fired Thursday by CBS Radio for insulting comments he made on his show about the Rutgers University’s women’s basketball team.

    “From the outset, I believe all of us have been deeply upset and revulsed by the statements that were made on our air about the young women who represented Rutgers University in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship with such class, energy and talent,” CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said in a statement.

  21. Gay Voice says

    This policing of free-speech is really aggravating. Those DJ’s had the right to question the funding issue.But you militants won’t be happy till you stop them speaking their minds and getting them sacked. As a gay man i find this matter abhorant & the views expressed on this site do not represent me.I’m actually on the side of the presenters and hope they sue the station.I see a lot of discourse in the Trans community at the minute & that’s spilling over to the gays.You can’t have unity if you alienate the very people you’re supposed to represent.I’m done with this site.Your aggressive (over)reacting over other people having views that you disagree with is going to lead to more violence against gay & transsexual people, as certain straight groups will see you as confrontational.The best way to teach people is to open their eyes, not scream at them & get them sacked.How will that help the transsexuals & gays in small communities who don’t have the strength in numbers you people do.

  22. woody says

    I live in Rochester, and people think she’s an ass. Both local papers have said she’s a jerk in op-ed pieces since this aired. She makes her living making asinine comments and people are always complaining to the station about her. I’m surprised she’s still on the air here.

  23. Solomon says

    I have written to the station to express my support for these two DJs. I have specifically identified myself as LGB and have made clear that not every LGB person knows, likes, or identifies with trans activists, many of whom have said far more offensive things about gay people than these 2 radio jocks said about transgenders. I also asked them to stand strong against trans activist demands, keeping in mind that there are only about 200 bona fide trans activists in the entire United States.

  24. Josh says

    @SOLOMON Exactly! As America’s greatest President said, “Might makes right.”

  25. Mikey says

    And I wrote to them and said that what the DJ’s said was horrendous, ignorant, and hateful.

  26. bobbyjoe says

    So among other things, Kimberly and Beck have also mocked beating victims and an African American mother grieving over the death of her son.

    You can read about it here:

    Seriously, short of somebody who manufactures Klan robes or publishes neo-Nazi tracts, what kind of self-respecting advertiser would want to advertise on these people’s show (I suggest we all write them and ask)? And who in the world other than the lowest of the low would listen to this as morning “entertainment”?

  27. Mike says

    SOLOMON is my hero of the day.So glad to see that i’m not the only guy on here keeping things in perspective. I’m gonna follow your lead & e-mail my support as a gay man to the presenters.
    MIKEY on the other hand is exactly the kind of commentator on here who makes me ashamed to be part of the LGBT “Community”

  28. Alex Parrish says

    EDUDE — it’s nice that you were able to do all that research, but, unfortunately, it is all irrelevant to the freedom of speech argument. Not a single one, NOT ONE, of the cases you cited involved the US government stepping-in or arresting the perpetrator. Many foreign governments do have that power, but not in the US. None of them is a freedom of speech issue. The marketplace (including the marketplace of ideas) is not mentioned or intended in the 1st amendment. Period. In most of the cited cases, the individual chose to violate a company policy or commitment, or did something which brought their employer into disrepute so they were fired. This is perfectly legal (and I happen to believe, just.)

  29. Randy says

    They have free speech, but unless Rochester and 98.9 want to be known as the bigot station, they probably won’t have jobs.

    By the way, the ’80s called and want their radio hosts back.

  30. Patrick says

    I also emailed the station with my disgust. I think we need to stand up for our trans brothers and sisters. It’s not enough to say “I don’t get it” and leave them out there to face hateful comments alone. People did that to us for decades – now that we have millions in this society helping turn the tide for us, we need to step up for trans folks ourselves. I don’t have to understand a trans person’s motivation to defend their inherent dignity. And really, is sending an email or making a phone call too difficult?

  31. LiamB says

    So much transphobia from supposedly gay individuals. You realize it wasn’t that long ago it was us being openly mocked and belittled this way? Hell, there are still those who do so. And despite your juvenile understanding, this is not a “Free Speech” issue. Having the right to say stupid stuff doesn’t obligate others to ignore nor accept it. Others have a right to call them out for their ignorant and, frankly, disgusting opinions.

    As for your insipid desire, Gay Voice, exactly on what grounds do you think they would even have to sue? You do understand that the station has every right to dismiss someone if they feel they poorly represent their interests. These piss poor excuses for adults have nothing to prevent being tossed out in the cold.

  32. edude says

    Alex Parrish – Thanks for the input. My point was that radio stations and employers fire people all the time for saying and doing outrageous things, which is what I think could be expected in this case.

    If we were to buy into the “Freedom of Speech” argument the radio host came up with in her tweet, then presumably no-one else in those examples I gave would have been fired either. While you may be taking a strictly legal approach to what she said, I was taking a general approach.

    The examples were to illustrate that offensive speech can, and should in cases, have serious consequences.

  33. Larry says

    Free speech does not include the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theater or inciting a riot. Remember these were two adults who mocked a teenage trans girl on radio and perhaps may still inspire violence against her. Is chanting “kill the queers” protected speech? I think not.

  34. Shauna says

    There seems to be an abundance of men commenting here.Whilst i appreciate the fact that you care for us, i would ask that you don’t instigate this into becoming bigger than it need be. My Mum always told me to pick my arguments carefully, that to argue over every silly thing lessened the impact when it came to something important.My point is, if i as a Trans-Woman wasn’t really that offended by these two -certainly not enough that they lose their jobs- why are you? The more the most militant members of any community start alienating people, the harder it gets for the rest of us to build bridges.Yes,the hosts were ignorant but it was their right to disagree with the policy.The moment you take away people’s right to free speech the more worrying it becomes.I’ve read men comparing this to gay rights in the 80’s and whilst i agree that the Trans-community still has a long way to go, i am also aware of the growing extreme right political parties across the world.Now is the time when we need the support of the heterosexual community rather than alienating them.I speak only for myself here.

  35. GAZ says

    LIAMB “So much transphobia from supposedly gay individuals. You realize it wasn’t that long ago it was us being openly mocked and belittled this way?”
    Have you been living under a rock? Go outside your comfort level & read what’s being written online, see the anti gay laws being passed around the world.We are a LONG way from being accepted.Just because TV shows embrace gays doesn’t mean the majority of people do.Go on any gay video on YouTube and see the tons upon tons of hatred for us.Just because we don’t all agree with the sacking of these presenters for speaking their mind, doesn’t mean we’re Trans-phobic, it means we don’t agree with the way this has been handled.The world is becoming LESS tolerant & more angry & conservative.Open your eyes and look at the bigger picture.Yeah, you got 2 local idiot presenters fired, big deal.People are now just getting angry because they’re being censored & told what they are & aren’t allowed to say.Look at the world around you and see how -rather than people being more accepting- people are in fact getting more conservative after gay marrage & Michael Sam.Rant over.

  36. aguy says

    I highly doubt they are afraid of transgender people so it’s pretty silly to call them transphobic because they dislike transgender people. Disliking is not the same as fear.

  37. Charlene Cameron says

    These shock jocks do everything for ratings including degrading other American’s and stirring up hate which further threatens our health and wellbeing in hate filled assaults. They should be sued and charged with inciting hate against other Americans. 

    Further, Talk radio can be nothing more than a hate filled rant and no one is immune from these attacks. These cells of radio stations should be held accountable for the incitements they cause. 

  38. Andrew says

    This isn’t a political question – there is no First Amendment situation here.

    Should city policy be questioned? You bet. But that is a very small fig leaf for the kind of crudeness we heard here. If this is our new political discourse, we’re f-d as a society.

    This is a strategic question – how does the LGBT community flex their muscle, and how do they leverage incidence for teachable moments… or just flag something as so far beyond the pale that it just needs to be cited as an example. It’s also so extreme in its general nastiness that it affects corporate branding, and the radio station has every right to decide how they want to be perceived.

    For those who are dismissive of this situation, I urge you – re-read the transcript or listen to the clips… The conversation was incredibly ugly, and I don’t care what group was being talked about – they could have been talking about Christian poodle owners – I’d have confronted them just overhearing how this conversation went on. The idea that it was broadcast puts the employer in an untenable position of tacitly approving this nasty piece of work. If they worked for me as a pair of floorsweepers, I’d fire them just so I didn’t have to listen to them any more.