The NYT must be held accountable for anti-trans bias

Recently, the New York Times has spread misleading views of trans people with little-to-no basis in science through their relentless publication of editorials that spread transphobia. The Times has not only remained silent against the oppression of the marginalized, but gave platform and validation to anti-trans hate groups. The Times must make reparations for their defamatory coverage of trans people as they have broken the sanctity of journalism by siding with the oppressor.

Katie Baker’s feature on Jan. 22, “When Students Change Gender Identity and Parents Don’t Know,” validates the legal strategy utilized by anti-trans hate groups to ban trans rights. In the piece, Baker cites Erica Anderson, a psychologist who is trans herself, to suggest that schools should report socially transitioning students to their parents: an invasion of privacy. However, crucial context is left unsaid in the piece. Baker introduces Dr. Anderson as a psychologist who has counseled numerous children over gender identity-related issues. What Baker leaves out is that Anderson resigned from the U.S. Professional Association for Transgender Health a year before the story was published and worked with conservative law groups like Alliance Defending Freedom, which views trans people as an “… existential threat to society,” according to their official website. Additionally, “The Battle Over Gender Therapy” by Emily Bazelon, a story published by the New York Times Magazine, makes anti-trans points about trans healthcare that contradict the science, citing multiple expert sources that later expressed regret over the misrepresentation of their work in the piece.

In response, a sign-on letter by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, signed by over 100 supporters including LGBTQ+ organizations, doctors and non-profits, was sent to the Times on Feb. 15. The letter made three demands: stop printing biased anti-trans stories, listen to the trans community and invest in hiring full-time trans writers and editors. All demands were not made to tear down the Times but to mend the evident disconnect between trans people and the coverage of them. The following day, the Times fired back by publishing an anti-trans editorial by Pamela Paul, “In Defence of J.K. Rowling,” defending J.K. Rowling for her comments on Twitter attacking trans people and villainizing activists who called her out for it.

The Times has misled their audience about the legitimacy of trans healthcare. As Tom Scocca, a journalist for Popula, analyzed, within just eight months, the Times published 13,945 words’ worth of front-page stories that question or even argue that support for trans people has gone too far. However, renowned medical institutions have proven otherwise. For years, major medical associations have voiced support for trans healthcare as it is literally life-saving. According to a study on gender-affirming care for trans and non-binary youth ages 13- 20 by the Journal of the American Medical Association, “puberty blockers and gender-affirming hormones are associated with 60% lower odds of moderate or severe depression and 73% lower odds of suicidality over a 12-month follow-up.” The science is clear: healthcare for trans children is an essential human right.

Despite all the authorities disproving the bias the Times has, the Times has the audacity to claim that their mission is to “seek the truth and help people understand the world.” The truth is right under their noses: health care for trans individuals saves lives. The Times believes that “… great journalism has the power to make … all of society stronger and more just.” Yet, the Times has defiled the very essence of journalism. Denying trans people their unalienable right to health care makes society neither stronger nor just.

Even so, it would be unfair to say the Times exclusively publishes anti-trans stories. The Times has published pieces, written by trans writers, in the past that justly cover trans issues. Having said that, such positive stories are so few and far between that all in all, at worst, the Times is a weapon used by anti-trans groups, and at best, is apathetic to human rights violations.

Any decent journalist can see exactly what the Times is truly doing. Neutrality in the face of injustice is siding with the oppressor.

Read on Issuu.

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