Anti-Trans news coverage by NYT blasted by 200 contributors
Nearly 200 past and present contributors to The New York Times have signed on to a damning letter detailing what they say is the paper of record’s “editorial bias” in “reporting on transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people.” The letter follows months of what appears to be heightened criticism, born out of frustration over The Times’ reporting on transgender people.
Numerous, eye-opening examples of how the “Old Gray Lady,” as the paper is often called, positions and frames transgender people and the issues they and their families face are packed into the letter, which compares the paper’s coverage to “far-right hate groups.” Perhaps one of its most consequential call-outs is how The Times’ reporting is used by anti-LGBTQ state lawmakers and other officials to support anti-transgender legislation and policies.
“The natural destination of poor editorial judgment is the court of law. Last year, Arkansas’ attorney general filed an amicus brief in defense of Alabama’s Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, which would make it a felony, punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment, for any medical provider to administer certain gender-affirming medical care to a minor (including puberty blockers) that diverges from their sex assigned at birth,” it reads. “The brief cited three different New York Times articles to justify its support of the law: [Emily] Bazelon’s ‘The Battle Over Gender Therapy,’ Azeen Ghorayshi’s ‘Doctors Debate Whether Trans Teens Need Therapy Before Hormones,’ and Ross Douthat’s ‘How to Make Sense of the New L.G.B.T.Q. Culture War.’ As recently as February 8th, 2023, attorney David Begley’s invited testimony to the Nebraska state legislature in support of a similar bill approvingly cited the Times’ reporting and relied on its reputation as the ‘paper of record’ to justify criminalizing gender-affirming care.”
The letter also packs a punch, using The Times’ long history of anti-LGBTQ reporting, going back decades, to show a pattern and prove its point.
“In 1963, the New York Times published a front-page story with the title ‘Growth of Overt Homosexuality in City Provokes Wide Concern,’ which stated that homosexuals saw their own sexuality as ‘an inborn, incurable disease’—one that scientists, the Times announced, now thought could be ‘cured.’ The word ‘gay’ started making its way into the paper. Then, in 1975, the Times published an article by Clifford Jahr about a queer cruise (the kind on a boat) featuring a ‘sadomasochistic fashion show.’ On the urging of his shocked mother, Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger sent down the order: Stop covering these people.“
The letter closes with another unfortunate observation: “There is no rapt reporting on the thousands of parents who simply love and support their children, or on the hardworking professionals at the New York Times enduring a workplace made hostile by bias—a period of forbearance that ends today.”
Many voiced their criticism of The Times on social media platforms like Twitter, where GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis noted, “our youth, and our community broadly, can no longer wait for the Times to do the right thing. We need to see action now: stop printing anti-trans stories, meet with trans leaders, and hire trans journalists.”
“Misinformation about transgender people and issues isn’t just bad journalistic ethics, it is also dangerous and has real-world consequences,” she tweeted, adding, “irresponsible Times coverage contributes to the current anti-trans climate and gives cover to extremist politicians out to exploit and destroy trans lives.”
GLAAD has joined with over 100 organizations and leaders in publishing their own, similar letter to the paper, calling it “appalling that the Times would dedicate so many resources and pages to platforming the voices of extremist anti-LGBTQ activists who have built their careers on denigrating and dehumanizing LGBTQ people, especially transgender people.”
GLAAD, whose purpose is to work “through entertainment, news, and digital media to share stories from the LGBTQ community that accelerate acceptance,” detailed some of its efforts with The New York Times.
“Article after article, page after page, day after day, we have tried to educate you and your colleagues. We have sent emails, made calls, tried to help reporters source stories, and in one case, after more than four months of trying, some of us were even able to sit down and talk with you,” GLAAD says. “It is clear that our behind-the-scenes outreach has had zero impact. What has had impact, however, is your irresponsible coverage.”
“The Science Desk decided to spend more than a year undermining support for transgender youth by writing ‘just asking questions’ stories about medically approved best practices for gender-affirming healthcare,” GLAAD continues. “The Opinion editors gave noted cisgender heterosexual Pamela Paul space for her unfounded thoughts about how LGBTQ people should describe themselves, as if the Times could not find anyone with lived experience in the LGBTQ community to write about our issues. Then 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.”