New York Times’ decision to hire anti-LGBTQ attorney as columnist is appalling
GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding to the New York Times’ recent announcement of their hiring of anti-LGBTQ attorney and writer David French as a columnist.
“It is appalling that the New York Times hired and is now boasting about bringing on David French, a writer and attorney with a deep history of anti-LGBTQ activism. After more than a year of inaccurate, misleading LGBTQ coverage in the Times opinion and news pages, the Times started 2023 by announcing a second anti-transgender opinion columnist, without a single known trans voice represented on staff,” responded GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis. “A cursory search for French turns up numerous anti-LGBTQ articles and his record as 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, including just last month at the Supreme Court. The Times left out these facts in its glowing announcement of French’s hiring, and also forgot to mention his work as a co-signer on the 2017 Nashville Statement, which erased LGBTQ voices of faith and falsely stated ‘that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism.’ The Times had the gall to claim French as a ‘faith’ expert despite this known history.
The Times’ opinion section continues to platform non-LGBTQ voices speaking up inaccurately and harmfully about LGBTQ people and issues. This is damaging to the paper’s credibility. The Times opinion section editors’ love letter to French yesterday shows a willful disregard of LGBTQ community voices and the concerns so many have shared about their inaccurate, exclusionary, often ridiculous pieces. Last year, the Times ended popular trans writer Jenny Boylan’s column, leaving the opinion section with no trans columnists and a known lack of transgender representation on its overall staff. Who was brought on after Boylan? Pamela Paul, who has devoted columns to anti-transgender and anti-LGBTQ disinformation, and David French. This reflects a growing trend on the news and opinion pages of misguided, inaccurate, and disingenuous ‘both sides’ fearmongering and bad faith ‘just asking questions’ coverage. The Times started 2023 by bragging about hiring another anti-trans writer, so LGBTQ leaders, organizations, and allies should make a 2023 resolution not to stay silent as the Times platforms lies, bias, fringe theories and dangerous inaccuracies.”
Examples of French’s anti-LGBTQ activism:
- French served as attorney for SPLC-designated hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), best known for attacking the rights of transgender students, fighting in court to discriminate against LGBTQ people, and working internationally to criminalize being LGBTQ. French has a history of expressing his outward disdain for transgender people. In the past, he lamented “transgender entitlement” and once described a young transgender woman as a “man” who is “on the verge of mutilating himself.” (from Media Matters.)
- French was a co-signer on the “Nashville Statement.”
- Column written by French attempting to refute existence of transgender people.
- French was called out for saying that lifting the ban on trans military service will result in “thought control.”
- French recently made news for his late-in-life change of heart to support marriage equality, explaining it about a month ago. He has not disavowed his legal activism for ADF, and in fact has defended the group, which continues to attack and spread disinformation about LGBTQ people around the globe.
Examples of NYT columnist Pamela Paul’s anti-LGBTQ work:
- Pamela Paul, who is not LGBTQ, has devoted her first columns to inaccurately opining about LGBTQ issues, including falsely and incredulously claiming erasure of the word and identity, “gay” in the LGBTQ movement.
- Paul was New York Times Books Editor when writer Jesse Singal, who is not transgender or LGBTQ but who has built a career inaccurately writing about trans issues and targeting trans people, reviewed and supported his friend’s inaccurate anti-transgender book.
- Paul repeated Singal’s false and harmful exclusionary innuendo about transgender women and safety in one of her first opinion columns.
- While leading the Books section, Paul has been accused of silencing voices supportive of transgender youth.
Recent examples of inaccurate news coverage of LGBTQ people and youth, and their consequences:
- In court documents, the state of Texas quoted Emily Bazelon’s June 15 report in the New York Times Magazine to further target families of trans youth over their private, evidence-based healthcare decisions. Every major medical association supports gender affirming care as best practices care that is safe and lifesaving and has widespread consensus of the medical and scientific communities.
- The World Professional Association of Transgender Healthcare (WPATH), the world’s leading medical and research authority on transgender healthcare, criticized the Times’ November 2022 article “They Paused Puberty, But Is There a Cost?” as “furthering the atmosphere of misinformation” about healthcare for trans youth, noting its inaccurate narratives, interpretations and non-expert voices. WPATH noted the Times elevated false and inflammatory notions about medications that have been used safely in non-LGBTQ populations for decades without an explicit statement about how the benefits of the treatment far outweigh potential risks.
- Writer Michael Powell elevated anti-transgender voices to falsely assert, in a piece about one successful transgender athlete, that transgender athletes are a threat to women’s sports. Powell’s other pieces have been used to support Pamela Paul’s inaccurate opinion essays falsely claiming “women” are being erased by the inclusion of trans people in discussions about abortion access.