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TWO MONTHS LATER: COALITION ASKS NEW YORK TIMES: WHY WON’T YOU MEET WITH TRANS COMMUNITY LEADERS?
- Last updated: May 24, 2023
Coalition of 100+ organizations and leaders demanding fair, accurate, and inclusive trans coverage sent letter two months ago asking the Times meet with trans leaders to learn more about the community after more than a year of biased, inaccurate coverage
“It is beyond unacceptable for the Times to use sensational, inaccurate stories about trans people for clicks, yet refuse to speak with leaders in the trans community.”
Statements from trans community leaders to play on truck outside of Times’ headquarters today
(Monday, April 17, 2023) – Today GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization and a coalition of more than 100 organizations and leaders released statements from transgender community leaders addressed to the New York Times. This release comes two months after the coalition asked that the Times meet with trans leaders within two months. The coalition has not received a direct reply from the Times about this ask or the letter in general.
Statements and photos from trans community leaders will be showcased on a video billboard truck all day today outside of the Times headquarters in New York City. Photos here, and embeddable social posts at twitter.com/glaad and instagram.com/glaad
Statement from Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD
“It is outrageous and disrespectful that New York Times leadership continues to ignore the voices of trans community leaders, who have been sounding the alarm about the newspaper’s irresponsible, inaccurate coverage for over a year. Trans people deserve to be respected and have their voices heard. Mainstream media publications, including the Times, have a responsibility to their readers to cover trans people and issues in a fair, accurate, and inclusive way. Our coalition of more than a hundred organizations and leaders asked that the Times meet with trans community leaders within two months. Two months have come and gone without a word from the Times. What are they afraid of? It is beyond unacceptable for the Times to use sensational, inaccurate stories about trans people for clicks, yet refuse to speak with leaders in the trans community.”
Public outcry about the paper’s coverage comes after more than a year of irresponsible, biased front page news and opinion pieces about transgender people. A number of these pieces have been cited by politicians to justify discriminatory bans and criminalizing efforts against best practices, consensus-based healthcare for trans youth, including most recently, the Attorney General of Missouri (see below). A number of harmful opinion pieces, written by non-LGBTQ essayists, spread harmful misinformation about transgender people and do not include their voices or accurately reflect their realities.
STATEMENTS FROM TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY LEADERS
Chase Joynt; Director, Writer (He/Him)
“Journalists have a responsibility to their subjects and their readership to take seriously the consequences of their curiosity. Asking questions under the guise of concern without adequate attention paid to historical context spreads misinformation which is then assumed to be truth. What remains fact is that transgender people have always existed and news outlets should follow the lead of those most impacted by their reporting.”
Erin Reed; Researcher, Content Creator, and Activist (She/Her)
“The New York Times needs to step up and take responsibility for its transgender coverage and take a meeting with community leaders about their reporting on transgender lives. I have tracked 430 bills targeting the trans community this year, and I have seen New York Times articles referenced in numerous hearings. Accurate and sensitive coverage from the New York Times is of paramount importance. They need to hire more trans staff, allow trans people to cover the biggest stories that relate to our care, and take responsibility for ensuring their coverage is respectful and accurately portrays the scientific consensus around gender affirming care. I hope to see a real commitment to engaging with the community in the coming days.”
Joelle Espeut, Programming Director, The Normal Anomaly Initiative (She/Her)
“Words matter. And often, the violence inflicted upon women and people who identify outside the binary starts with stigmatizing language. The Times must know that they have the power, in allyship with the trans community, to help end anti-trans violence with accurate reporting that provides meaningful representation and visibility of the transgender community to the world.”
Jay Brown; Senior Vice President, Programs, Research & Training, HRC (He/Him)
“The New York Times has a responsibility to report on issues accurately and fairly. Their reporting on the transgender community has been anything but accurate and fair. Gender affirming medical care is widely supported by every major medical association — representing more than 1.3 million doctors – but they’re platforming anti-trans extremists whose only goal is to push us all back into the closet. They aren’t experts and shouldn’t be treated as such. This isn’t a matter of giving equal time to two sides of an issue. It’s about giving radicals a platform that has been used by politicians to harm transgender people — and trans youth in particular. The Times must do better and they should listen to those of us who are transgender when we are telling them their reporting is dangerous.”
Minnesota State Representative Leigh Finke (She/Her)
“2023 is the fourth consecutive year marked by a record-breaking number of anti-trans bills seeking to block trans people from receiving basic healthcare, education, legal recognition, and the right to publicly exist. In this legislative session alone, 446 anti-trans bills have been introduced across 43 states—412 of which are still actively being deliberated.
States are using any means necessary to take away our community’s fundamental rights, even from children. Six states have banned gender-affirming care, more are seeking to do so at this very moment. Florida used its state medical board to do the same. Texas is investigating families and clinics in a sick use of government power to root us out. The result is that families with trans kids are now fleeing these states, effectively becoming refugees in their own country, looking for safety anywhere they can find it.
The most recent quote to make headlines was that trans people ‘must be eradicated from public life entirely.’ Statements like this are shocking and alarming, and they put our lives in danger. It is not easy for us to hear that there are political movements in this nation that seek to have us all ERADICATED. But it’s true. For some portions of our society, there are only two acceptable spaces for queer people to exist: in the closet or in the coffin.”
Peppermint; Activist, Actor, Singer, GLAAD Board Member (She/Her)
“I don’t believe publications with an historic reputation like the New York Times should spend energy and resources on distributing damaging speculation that is aimed at blocking Americans of all ages from access to healthcare, fair housing and employment just because of how they identify. It’s troubling that an outlet with such prestige that was earned in a previous generation would willingly align itself with people who openly state that instead of focusing on support and validation for our humanity they are focused on our ‘eradication from public life entirely’.
Every time you and your writers print a misleading and harmful story about the transgender community you are simultaneously slashing and eroding any connection this paper has to the notion of relevance. Transgender people are born into this world and into your very families. Our ideals and identities are inseparable from our humanity, and the attempts to separate us from that humanity are a heartbreaking signal that the New York Times is not interested in surviving into the next century. We will send flowers.”
Raquel Willis; Writer, Activist (She/Her)
“How the New York Times covers transgender and nonbinary people will be a major historical subject and it will be quite an enormous blemish unless true accountability shines through. I am forever inspired by how generous and courageous NYT contributors and employees involved with the letter have given of their time, energy, heart, and belief of potential that our media landscape can serve as a catalyst for change. I am also grateful for the numerous organizations that have bolstered the efforts of our journalists in a time when not just facts, but empathy continues to be left on the cutting room floor.”
Shakina; Actor, Writer, Producer (She/They)
“The New York Times can’t hide behind ‘both-sides journalism’ when one of those sides is so blatantly rooted in organized efforts by nationally recognized hate groups to demonize the most vulnerable members of our population. Transgender people, and in particular trans youth, need the New York Times to lead by example and establish a journalistic ethic that respects our human rights and gives credence to the research and recommendations of medical professionals, feminist thinkers, and spiritual leaders around the world who have affirmed our existence for generations.”
Tori Cooper; Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, HRC (She/Her)
“Every day, I wake up nervous about what the news will say about my identity as a Black, trans woman. So many in our community live in fear right now, because discrimination and violence are a reality for so many of us right now. When the New York Times prints irresponsible attacks on my community, and gives a megaphone to extremist anti-transgender activists as if they’re experts, they put us at even more risk. This dangerous reporting has real world impact: more stigma, more discrimination, and more violence.”
Tatiana Williams; Executive Director, Transinclusive Group (She/Her)
“As a community, we are already marginalized and left vulnerable by systems of oppression. Yet we continue to wake up to new attacks, inequalities, threats to employment, and a growing lack of access to life-saving healthcare. Major media outlets hold great power to inform, educate, and speak truth to power. Continuously uplifting voices who present transgender people, our rights, healthcare, and existence as an unsettled debate causes real harm to our community and perpetuates the idea that human rights are just a matter of opinion.”
Oklahoma State Representative Mauree Turner (They/Them/Theirs)
“I’m passionate about doing what I can in my role to protect 2-spirit, transgender, nonbinary, gender non-conforming, and other LGBQ+ people in my community. Oklahoma is advancing dangerous bills that would particularly harm 2-spirit, transgender and nonbinary residents, and which would take even stronger measures to prohibit us from accessing lifesaving medical care and the ability to participate in everyday life. The New York Times and other high-profile outlets have a responsibility to ensure coverage that centers our lived experiences and does not cause further harm. When you only report that our nation’s leaders are writing and signing into law policy that has a blatant disregard for our lives, and not telling the real consequences that Americans are suffering because of it, then we allow people to think it’s okay because our national leaders are engaged in destructive policy. I would welcome a conversation with them about what I’ve heard from my constituents, my personal experience about what our community is going through, and how we can advance safety and acceptance for all.”
The coalition continues to await word from the New York Times about a meeting between the Times and trans community leaders
More about the coalition letter to the New York Times:
Thousands of Times’ readers have written letters of their own or added their signatures to the coalition letter signed by more than 100 organizations and leaders delivered to Times’ leadership on February 15, 2023. The coalition letter was delivered to the Times the same day a separate letter from 1,000 Times contributors was sent, citing specific examples of bias and how they have been weaponized by anti-LGBTQ politicians to justify targeting of trans people and youth. More than 10,000 Times readers from all 50 states sent messages directly to the NY Times, a milestone that the coalition marked with an airplane banner over NYC last month.
The coalition of organizations and leaders has not received a direct response to their letter. The contributors have also not received a direct response to their letter. The Times’ top editors sent an internal memo threatening employees for speaking up about the outlet’s trans coverage.
Excerpt from the coalition letter signed by 100+ organizations and leaders:
“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.
The public can also continue to 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 Missouri Attorney General cited Emily Bazelon’s June 2022 report to take necessary medical care away from transgender youth and adults.
- 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.
- Last month, 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, neglecting both medical science and the overwhelming consensus support for trans healthcare among major medical associations, while equating medical expertise to anti-LGBTQ lawmaker opinion.
- Sources in the biased pieces have since spoken out about being misrepresented and their regret in engaging with the Times.
- A biased piece about schools outing trans students neglected to report how the anti-trans legal strategy is pushed by anti-LGBTQ hate groups who falsely and harmfully call trans people an “existential threat to society.”
- 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 “science” coverage includes:
- A piece 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 in 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, including an inflammatory piece published the day after contributors and advocates publicly sounded the alarm about harmful coverage. Paul baselessly claimed to know whether author JK Rowling’s words and actions are harmful to trans people without quoting a single trans person about them. Paul continues to pit transgender women against cisgender (non-transgender) women and exert ludicrous claims 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. Before moving to Opinion to become its chief LGBTQ opinion correspondent who is not LGBTQ, Paul led the NYT Books section. Paul’s essays repeat inaccurate anti-trans talking points including those by anti-trans writers hired to review anti-trans books — in the NYT Books section Paul used to lead.
- 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. It also failed to note how the legal strategy of the parents in this piece is fully supported and funded by known anti-LGBTQ hate groups.
- Also in January 2023, the Times boasted about hiring David French, a former 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 at www.glaad.org/nytimes
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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