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(UPDATED) 180+ JOURNALISTS, NEW YORK TIMES CONTRIBUTORS CALL OUT BIASED COVERAGE OF TRANSGENDER PEOPLE IN JOINT LETTER AS 100+ ORGANIZATIONS AND NOTABLES ECHO CALL, CITING PATTERN OF INACCURATE, HARMFUL TRANS COVERAGE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
- Last updated: May 24, 2023
IMMEDIATE UPDATE, with full press release below
Statement from Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD, re: NYT’s response to today’s collective coalition calls for the outlet to improve their coverage of transgender people:
-Two letters were sent to the NYT today about their irresponsible, biased coverage of trans people (1) a letter from 100+ organizations and leaders, and (2) letter from 180+ NYT contributors.
-GLAAD has not received any outreach from the NYT directly, we saw their response in the media.)
“The New York Times response is as ill-informed as its coverage of transgender people. It is shameful that the Times’ response blatantly ignores today’s letter from 180+ of their own contributors and does not address the 120+ organizations and leaders who signed the letter alongside GLAAD. The Times is not only standing behind coverage that hundreds of leaders in journalism, media, and LGBTQ advocacy are speaking out against, but boasting that they are proud of it. Does this response mean the Times has no interest in meeting with leaders in the trans community? Does the Times have no interest in hiring trans writers and editors? Does the Times believe it is okay to ignore the voices of hundreds of stakeholders, and thousands more joining in support online? The Times response does not answer these questions and instead tries to dismiss the very real concerns over fair and accurate journalism.”
100+ organizations and leaders sign coalition letter in protest of Times’ irresponsible, biased coverage of transgender people, including:
GLAAD, HRC, PFLAG, Transgender Law Center, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Women’s March, Judd Apatow, Margaret Cho, Wilson Cruz, Tommy Dorfman, Lena Dunham, Jameela Jamil, Peppermint, Ashlee Marie Preston, Shakina, Amy Schneider, Gabrielle Union-Wade, Jonathan Van Ness, and more
“We won’t stand for the Times platforming lies, bias, fringe theories, and dangerous inaccuracies. We demand fair coverage, we demand that the Times platform trans voices as both sources and full-time writers and editors, and we demand a meeting between Times leadership and the transgender community.”
(New York, NY — February 15, 2023) — Today GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is joined by hundreds of journalists, organizations, community leaders, and notable influencers in calling on the New York Times to improve their coverage of transgender people and issues.
More than 180 contributors to the Times published a letter to the Times this morning, calling out the outlet’s biased trans coverage, including Ashley P. Ford, Roxane Gay, Carmen Maria Machado Thomas Page McBee, Andrea Long Chu, John Cameron Mitchell, Zach Stafford, Raquel Willis, and more.
GLAAD and 100+ organizations and notables–from HRC, PFLAG, Transgender Law Center, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, and the Women’s March to Ashlee Marie Preston, Gabrielle Union-Wade, Jameela Jamil, Jonathan Van Ness, Judd Apatow, Lena Dunham, Margaret Cho, Peppermint, Shakina, Tommy Dorfman, Wilson Cruz, and more–echoed this call in their own letter, demanding that the Times stop printing irresponsible misinformation about trans people, meet with trans community leaders, and hire trans writers and editors.
The coalition letter was delivered to the New York Times building this morning. In addition, the coalition’s concerns and demands are featured on a billboard truck that will drive around the New York Times building in Manhattan today. PHOTOS + VIDEO AVAILABLE HERE, courtsey GLAAD.
These calls come after more than a year of irresponsible, biased news and opinion pieces about the transgender community. A number of these pieces have been cited by politicians banning and criminalizing health care for trans youth (see below).
“The New York Times has long had a reputation as a leader in the world of media, but the example they are setting for coverage of transgender people is downright shameful,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD. “From the front page to the opinion page, readers are too often getting an inaccurate view of transgender people, with poor reporting that elevates harmful opinions from known anti-trans voices and so-called ‘concerns’ over the fact that every leading medical organization affirms healthcare for trans youth as safe and necessary. And even more dangerous, politicians are using biased Times’ articles to justify support for anti-trans legislation. GLAAD and other advocates have tried to educate reporters and editors at the Times, but our community can no longer wait for the Times to do the right thing. We need to see action now: Start by listening, hiring, and reporting accurately and inclusively on trans people. Anything less than an intentional and meaningful effort to reach out to and listen to transgender experts is unconscionable and a violation of the public trust.”
Excerpt from the letter from 180+ Times contributors:
“The newspaper’s editorial guidelines demand that reporters ‘preserve a professional detachment, free of any whiff of bias’ when cultivating their sources, remaining ‘sensitive that personal relationships with news sources can erode into favoritism, in fact or appearance.’ Yet the Times has in recent years treated gender diversity with an eerily familiar mix of pseudoscience and euphemistic, charged language, while publishing reporting on trans children that omits relevant information about its sources.”
Read the full letter and list of signers here.
Excerpt from letter signed by 100+ organizations and notables:
“For those of us who truly treasured the Times’ coverage for so many years, it is appalling to see how the news and opinion pages are now full of misguided, inaccurate, and disingenuous ‘both sides’ fearmongering and bad faith ‘just asking questions’ coverage. We won’t stand for the Times platforming lies, bias, fringe theories, and dangerous inaccuracies. We demand fair coverage, we demand that the Times platform trans voices as both sources and full-time writers and editors, and we demand a meeting between Times leadership and the transgender community.” Read the full letter and list of signers here (full list of signers also copied below.)
The public can also sign the letter and send a copy of it to the New York Times at glaad.org/nytimes
Demands from the 100+ organizations and notables signed onto coalition letter:
- Stop printing biased anti-trans stories, immediately.
- Listen to trans people: hold a meeting with trans community leaders within two months.
- Hire at least four trans writers and editors within three months.
Direct negative impacts of irresponsible Times coverage for trans people and their families and medical providers includes:
- The State of Texas quoted Emily Bazelon’s June 2022 report to further target families of trans youth in court documents over their private, evidence-based healthcare decisions.
- The Arkansas Attorney General cited three biased Times articles in her amicus brief supporting an Alabama law that criminalizes doctors and parents for ensuring trans youth can access necessary medical care: Emily Bazelon’s June 2022 piece, Azeen Ghorayshi’s January 2022 piece, and Ross Douthat’s April 2022 piece.
- And just last week, in a Nebraska legislative hearing, the Times’ reporting on trans youth and its reputation as the “paper of record” was used to justify a bill that would criminalize healthcare for trans youth.
Coverage of the trans community recently published by the New York Times that received loud negative responses from leaders in the LGBTQ and medical communities includes:
- A year’s worth of stories from the Times Science Desk have undermined support for transgender youth by purporting dangerous opinions from non-experts as objective facts, and neglecting both medical science and the overwhelming consensus support for trans healthcare among major medical associations. In fact, Popula has tracked that “The Times has now published more than 15,000 words’ worth of front-page stories asking whether care and support for young trans people might be going too far or too fast.” This biased coverage includes:
- A piece published this Monday by Azeen Ghorayshi attempts to link social contagion and functional tics with gender identity. Social contagion theories about gender identity have been withdrawn in academic research journals – facts not included Ghorayshi’s piece. Other omissions include the fact that trans youth are experiencing increased negative mental health outcomes due to a record number of state bills proposed targeting them, harmful rhetoric and bullying.
- A September 2022 piece by Azeen Ghorayshi sensationalized healthcare for trans youth and attempted to position trans youth as somehow regretting receiving medical care, despite the fact that the science shows that any “regret” is wildly exaggerated and that study after study show positive outcomes.
- A January 2022 piece also by Azeen Ghorayshi hinged on the idea that medical providers are in conflict over healthcare for trans youth, despite the fact that every major medical association supports healthcare for trans youth.
- In November 2022, the Times published a story by Megan Twohey and Christina Jewett that got the science of healthcare for trans people so wrong that the WPATH had to write a multi-page tear-down explaining how the Times misrepresented the facts at every turn.
- A June 2022 New York Times Magazine article was cited by the State of Texas to further target families of trans youth in court documents over their private, evidence-based healthcare decisions, and threaten to take trans youth away from loving homes.
- In May 2022, the Times published a piece by Michael Powell that baselessly asserted that trans women who participate in sports are somehow taking opportunities away from cisgender (non-trans) women. Powell falsely asserts being trans is a “choice,” ignores evidence that states with inclusive policies have more girls participating in sports than states with bans, and ignores that opposition to inclusion in sports is a coordinated attack by an anti-LGBTQ organization designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Times hired a former attorney for that hate group as a full-time Opinion writer in January 2023 (see below for more).
- In October 2022, Times Opinion editors gave Pamela Paul, who is not LGBTQ, space for her unfounded thoughts about how LGBTQ people should describe themselves – space the Times could and should have provided to anyone with lived experience in the LGBTQ community to write about LGBTQ issues from a firsthand, authentic and accurate perspective.
- Times editors choose to platform Paul’s bias regularly, whether she is pitting transgender women against cisgender (non-transgender) women or exerting the ludicrous claim that her opinion on marginalized people is more worthy of amplification than the voices of marginalized people themselves. Note that Paul was hired weeks after the Times neglected to renew trans writer Jenny Boylan’s contract as an Opinion Page writer.
- In January 2023, the Times published and promoted a biased front-page story that spotlighted unfounded claims about trans youth by anti-trans activists. This story left out critical information about the challenges trans youth face when considering coming out or being unfairly outed, including parental rejection, dangerous violence, and homelessness.
- Also in January 2023, the Times boasted about hiring David French, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group that actively spreads misinformation about LGBTQ people and pushes baseless legislation and lawsuits to legalize discrimination.
Facts about trans youth:
- Best practices medical care for transgender youth is supported by every leading medical association including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, The Endocrine Society, and The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Statements here.
- In 2022, more than 220 bills disproportionately targeting LGBTQ youth were introduced in state legislatures to restrict access to school sports, healthcare, books and inclusive curriculum, and the bathroom. None of these bills are based in facts or medical expertise or supported by medical professionals who treat LGBTQ youth. Evidence is growing about the harm of these bills and other efforts to target trans youth:
- 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth — and 66% of all LGBTQ youth — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health.
- 52% of trans and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 1 in 5 attempted suicide.
- 36% of LGBTQ youth reported being physically threatened or harmed due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Using a trans youth’s authentic name and pronouns improves mental health and reduces suicidal ideation.
- Psychology Today reviewed 16 studies on healthcare for trans youth: The Evidence for Trans Youth Gender-Affirming Medical Care.
- Learn more about trans youth from HRC’s Myths and Facts: Battling Disinformation About Transgender Rights.
- Learn more about misinformation and trans youth from ACLU-South Dakota’s Debunking the Myths That Tee Up Anti-Trans Bills.
Additional response to the Times’ irresponsible, biased coverage includes:
- The New York Times helped fuel an anti-trans panic in 2022. Will 2023 be any better? (Media Matters, 2/2023) https://www.mediamatters.org/new-york-times/new-york-times-helped-fuel-anti-trans-panic-2022-will-2023-be-any-better
- The New York Times Declares War on LGBTQ People With Hire of Anti-Trans Columnist (The Present Age, 1/2023) https://www.readtpa.com/p/david-french-nyt-anti-lgbtq
- The Worst Thing We Read This Week: Why Is the New York Times So Obsessed With Trans Kids? (Popula, 1/2023) https://popula.com/2023/01/29/the-worst-thing-we-read-this-week-why-is-the-new-york-times-so-obsessed-with-trans-kids/
- Uncompromising Transphobe David French Hired by NYT Opinion (Assigned Media, 1/2023) https://www.assignedmedia.org/breaking-news/uncompromising-transphobic-christian-writer-david-french-to-write-for-nyt
- Pamela Paul’s Gender Agenda (FAIR, 12/2022) https://fair.org/home/pamela-pauls-gender-agenda/
- The NYT’s Big Piece on Puberty Blockers Mucked Up the Most Important Point About Them (Slate, 11/2022) https://slate.com/technology/2022/11/puberty-blockers-side-effects-controversy.html
- Reckless NY Times reporting fuels disinformation about trans youth (LGBTQ Nation, 11/2022) https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2022/11/reckless-ny-times-reporting-fuels-disinformation-trans-youth/
- The New York Times Posts Another Misinformed, Deranged Story About Trans Youth (Into, 09/2022) https://www.intomore.com/advocacy/new-york-times-posts-another-misinformed-deranged-story-trans-youth/
- Nobody is trying to ban the word “woman” (The Present Age, 7/20220) https://www.readtpa.com/p/woman
- The Times Published Some Transphobic BS Over the Weekend (Them, 7/2022) https://www.them.us/story/new-york-times-op-ed-women-gender-inclusive-language-misogyny-trans-rights
- Why Does the ‘New York Times’ Feel the Need To Inject Transphobia Into the Fight for Abortion Access? (The Mary Sue, 6/2022) https://www.themarysue.com/new-york-times-transphobic-abortion-article/
Full list of signers to the coalition letter:
Accountable for Equality
Advocates for Youth
Alaskans Together For Equality
Ali Forney Center
Amber and Adam Briggle
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
Arkansas Black Gay Men’s Forum
Ashlee Marie Preston
Basic Rights Oregon
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Center on Halsted
City of Milwaukee Equal Rights Commission
Diverse and Resilient
Dr. David J. Johns
Dr. Dorian Rhea Debussy
Equality Delaware, Inc.
Equality New Mexico
Equality New York
Equality North Carolina
Equality South Dakota
Feminist Bird Club
Feminist Majority Foundation
Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus
Garden State Equality
Gen-Z for Change
Helen Boyd & Rachel Crowl
Human Rights Campaign
It Gets Better Project
Jonathan Van Ness
Keshet: For LGBTQ equality in Jewish life
Kit Mee Kuen Yan
Lavender Rights Project
Louisiana Trans Advocates
Maine Transgender Network
Marci Bowers, MD
Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
Matthew Shepard Foundation
Milwaukee LGBT Community Center
Mixed Media Works
Montana Human Rights Network
National Black Justice Coalition
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Women’s Law Center
Nefesh Los Angeles
New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
One Iowa Action
Out Boulder County
OutCasting Media – public radio’s LGBTQ youth program
OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center
Partnership To End AIDS Status Inc.
PFLAG Mt. Horeb
PFLAG Newport Beach
Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents blog
Pittsburgh LGBTQ Charities
Point of Pride
Producer Entertainment Group
Queer Liberation Library
Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie
Rabbi Bonnie Margulis
Rabbi Daniel Bogard
Rabbi Susan Goldberg
Rainbow Families Bay Area
San Francisco LGBTQ Center
Southern Legal Counsel
Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC
Tennessee Equality Project
The GenderCool Project
The Hetrick Martin Institute
The Media and Democracy Project
The Normal Anomaly Initiative, Inc.
The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, IX Bishop of New Hampshire (ret.), The Episcopal Church
The Sacred Cloth Project
The Transformation Project
The Woodhull Freedom Foundation
Transgender Education Network of Texas
Transgender Law Center
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund
Trans Journalists Association
Victoria Kirby York
Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault
World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
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