10 New York Times Readers From All 50 States Join Coalition Calling on Times to Stop Irresponsible, Biased Coverage
Airplane Banner Will Fly Over Hudson River Corridor Today With Message: '10k NYT Readers Say: Better Trans Stories!'
(Friday, February 24, 2023) Today the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, and GLAAD, the world's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, are announcing that 10,000+ New York Times readers from all 50 states have joined last week's coalition call to the New York Times, demanding that the Times stop printing irresponsible misinformation about trans people, meet with trans community leaders, and hire trans writers and editors. The coalition plans to spotlight the 10k+ signers by flying an airplane across New York City at 9am with a banner stating "10k NYT readers say: better trans stories!" (Photos will be available via firstname.lastname@example.org and on GLAAD's Twitter @glaad once available.)
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 (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.
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 last week. 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. As of today, more than 10,000 Times readers from all 50 states took action on GLAAD and HRC's websites, sending messages directly to the NY Times.
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 last week threatening employees for speaking up about the outlet's trans coverage.
"Last week, HRC joined hundreds of people and organizations, including many of the Times' own contributors, to call on the New York Times to stop publishing stories that harm the transgender and non-binary community. And just one day later, yet another transphobic column by one of their most consistently anti-transgender opinion writers is published to defend one of the most famous transphobic writers in the world. The circumstances are so outlandish that I almost can't believe it-but that's the reality for transgender people in our country: every day is a battle. And now, 10,000 readers from all 50 states agree: the Times must stop consistently platforming anti-LGBTQ+ extremists. They must do better, because there are real lives at stake." said Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
"The shockwaves the events of this past week have sent through the worlds of journalism and media speaks volumes. Our coalition has not heard back directly from the Times, but we all read the biased opinion piece published the morning after," said Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD, referencing an opinion piece defending JK Rowling's well-known anti-trans politics. "It has always been our job at GLAAD to call on the media to represent our community in a fair, accurate, and inclusive way, but we are far from the only stakeholders invested in the Times' coverage of trans people: more than 100 civil rights organizations and leaders, 1,000 and counting of the Times own contributors, and now more than 10,000 Times readers all agree: the Times must examine its coverage and address the blatant bias thriving across the Science Desk and Opinion Page."
Excerpt from 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 and on HRC's site here.
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.
- Earlier this 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 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 315 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