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100+ Activists, Celebrities, and Journalists Call Out Anti-Trans Bias in New York Times

100+ Activists, Celebrities, and Journalists Call Out Anti-Trans Bias in New York Times

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A GLAAD-led coalition and a group of Times contributors say the paper of record is full of transphobic pseudoscience.


More than 100 organizations, activists, journalists, and celebrities, led by GLAAD, have signed on to a letter calling on The New York Times to improve its coverage of transgender people and issues.

The letter, released Wednesday morning, comes the same day that 100-plus Times contributors made the same call in a letter of their own.

In a press release, GLAAD slammed the paper which it says has been "irresponsible" in its coverage of the transgender community. It noted that anti-trans politicians had even cited articles found in the pages of the Times in attempts to restrict and ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

The New York Times has long had a reputation as a leader in the world of media, but the example they are setting for coverage of transgender people is downright shameful,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, said in the release. “From the front page to the opinion page, readers are too often getting an inaccurate view of transgender people, with poor reporting that elevates harmful opinions from known anti-trans voices and so-called ‘concerns’ over the fact that every leading medical organization affirms health care for trans youth as safe and necessary. And even more dangerous, politicians are using biased Times articles to justify support for anti-trans legislation. GLAAD and other advocates have tried to educate reporters and editors at the Times, but our community can no longer wait for the Times to do the right thing. We need to see action now: Start by listening, hiring, and reporting accurately and inclusively on trans people. Anything less than an intentional and meaningful effort to reach out to and listen to transgender experts is unconscionable and a violation of the public trust.”

“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,” says the letter from the GLAAD-led coalition, which was delivered to the Times office Wednesday morning. “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.”

The signers, in addition to GLAAD, include the Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, Transgender Law Center, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, the Women’s March, Ashlee Marie Preston, Gabrielle Union-Wade, Jameela Jamil, Jonathan Van Ness, Judd Apatow, Lena Dunham, Margaret Cho, Peppermint, Shakina, Tommy Dorfman, Wilson Cruz, and many more. Read the full letter and list of signers here.

In their letter, also delivered Wednesday morning, Times contributors write, “The newspaper’s editorial guidelines demand that reporters ‘preserve a professional detachment, free of any whiff of bias’ when cultivating their sources, remaining ‘sensitive that personal relationships with news sources can erode into favoritism, in fact or appearance.’ Yet the Times has in recent years treated gender diversity with an eerily familiar mix of pseudoscience and euphemistic, charged language, while publishing reporting on trans children that omits relevant information about its sources.”

Among the signers are Ashley P. Ford, Roxane Gay, Carmen Maria Machado, Thomas Page McBee, Andrea Long Chu, John Cameron Mitchell, Zach Stafford, and Raquel Willis. The full letter and list of signers is at

As examples of bias, GLAAD says that the Times's science desk has treated opinions from "non-experts as objective facts" which the group says has neglected the actual medical science behind gender-affirming care and support for trans health care by major medical associations.

These, according to GLAAD, include a story emphasizing regret over transitioning, although the science shows this is rare; one suggesting medical experts disagree on gender-affirming care for youth, even though it is supported by every major medical association; one linking “social contagion” to gender identity; one “that baselessly asserted that trans women who participate in sports are somehow taking opportunities away from cisgender (non-trans) women” and “falsely asserts being trans is a ‘choice’”; “a biased front-page story that spotlighted unfounded claims about trans youth by anti-trans activists”; and “a story by Megan Twohey and Christina Jewett that got the science of healthcare for trans people so wrong that the [World Professional Association for Transgender Health] had to write a multi-page tear-down explaining how the Times misrepresented the facts at every turn.”

Times stories have been used to argue for anti-trans legislation and policies in states such as Arkansas, Nebraska, and Texas, GLAAD notes.

GLAAD is also calling the Times out for bringing on anti-LGBTQ+ opinion writers David French and Pamela Paul. French is a former National Review editor who was once an attorney with the far-right legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Paul has expressed anti-LGBTQ+ views as well. But the Times did not renew its contract with acclaimed trans writer and academic Jenny Boylan.

The letter from GLAAD’s coalition demands that the Times stop printing biased anti-trans stories immediately; hold a meeting with trans community leaders within two months; and hire at least four trans writers and editors within three months.

Also Wednesday, a billboard truck bearing the coalition's demands drove around the Times building in Manhattan.

The Times issued a statement in response to GLAAD. “We received the letter from GLAAD and welcome their feedback," it said, according to Mediaite. We understand how GLAAD sees our coverage. But at the same time, we recognize that GLAAD’s advocacy mission and The Times’s journalistic mission are different. As a news organization, we pursue independent reporting on transgender issues that include profiling groundbreakers in the movement, challenges and prejudice faced by the community, and how society is grappling with debates about care.

"The very news stories criticized by GLAAD in their letter reported deeply and empathetically on issues of care and well-being for trans teens and adults. Our journalism strives to explore, interrogate and reflect the experiences, ideas and debates in society – to help readers understand them. Our reporting did exactly that and we’re proud of it.”

GLAAD then commented on the Times statement, which Ellis said was not given directly to the organization, which instead had to see it in media reports. “The New York Times response is as ill-informed as its coverage of transgender people," Ellis said in a press release. "It is shameful that the Times’ response blatantly ignores today’s letter from 180+ of their own contributors and does not address the 120+ organizations and leaders who signed the letter alongside GLAAD. The Times is not only standing behind coverage that hundreds of leaders in journalism, media, and LGBTQ advocacy are speaking out against, but boasting that they are proud of it. Does this response mean the Times has no interest in meeting with leaders in the trans community? Does the Times have no interest in hiring trans writers and editors? Does the Times believe it is okay to ignore the voices of hundreds of stakeholders, and thousands more joining in support online? The Times response does not answer these questions and instead tries to dismiss the very real concerns over fair and accurate journalism.”

Catch more about the letter and the response from the Times below.

GLAAD Report on New York TImes Transgender Bias, Sarah Kate Ellis | Advocate Today

GLAAD and 100 other advocavy organizations and hundreds of Journalists call on the New York Times to stop publishing Anti-Transgender Opion Pieces and articles.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring, The Advocate's copy chief, has spent much of her journalistic career covering the LGBT movement. When she's not fielding questions about grammar, spelling, and LGBT history, she's sharing movie trivia or classic rock lyrics.
Trudy Ring, The Advocate's copy chief, has spent much of her journalistic career covering the LGBT movement. When she's not fielding questions about grammar, spelling, and LGBT history, she's sharing movie trivia or classic rock lyrics.