A letter, dated Feb. 15 and signed by over 1,000 contributors and subscribers to the New York Times, trans people and allies called on the paper to reject the new wave of bigots attempting to stifle trans lives.
“We write to you as a collective of New York Times contributors with serious concerns about editorial bias in the newspaper’s reporting on transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people,” the letter addressed to Philip B. Corbett, associate managing editor for standards at The New York Times, began.
“Plenty of reporters at the Times cover trans issues fairly. Their work is eclipsed, however, by what one journalist has calculated as over 15,000 words of front-page Times coverage debating the propriety of medical care for trans children published in the last eight months alone.”
A second letter to the Times, initiated by a number of LGBTQ+ civil rights organizations, made similar points.
Just a few days earlier, on Feb. 11, a transgender teen influencer — Brianna Ghey — was found murdered in a park in Warrington, England. Police are trying to claim her death may not have been an anti-transgender hate crime, and the British state has aligned itself with anti-transgender forces. This may affect the investigation into her death.
The New York Times wrote an article depicting how beloved she was on the internet and in her life. They held nothing back when trying to write about how she lived and died.
But Ghey wasn’t even buried, before the New York Times published a screed defending noted transphobe and trans-misogynist J.K. Rowling.
The Harry Potter books’ author often uses her Twitter site to push anti-trans misinformation and slander. Her allies include some so-called feminists, who maintain that transgender identities reinforce traditional gender roles and that transgender people need to live in their birth genders. Rowling’s cohorts also include far-right reactionaries, who harass trans people online and offline. On top of this, she still has a legion of fans who wait on her every word, not caring about the written violence she commits toward trans people.
The screed defending Rowling was hardly a lone article. It was one of many the New York Times has published attacking or otherwise criticizing transgender people. From articles claiming that trans youth are “spreading” a “contagion” to other youths, who then identify as transgender, to articles saying that transgender people initiated a culture war, the New York Times finds itself on the same side as far-right-wing reactionaries and hate groups.