Hi, again! In lieu of missing last week’s newsletter, I’ll be releasing one this week and one next week, following which I’ll resume the usual biweekly schedule.
Most of this week’s newsletter is going to be dedicated to discussing the New York Times and their continuous anti-trans reporting. I, too, wish I would talk about something else, and I will – the second the NYT engages in ethical reporting on trans rights and lives. Instead, they keep defending themselves despite being told countless times that they are not only missing the point but directly harming trans people.
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Azeen Ghorayshi, a writer on the NYT’s Science Desk who covers stories at the “intersection of sex, gender, and science” has written several anti-trans articles. One of the most “famous” being “More Trans Teens Are Choosing ‘Top Surgery.'” Here’s the thing about that particular article: At face value, it certainly appears to be addressing both sides of an “issue.” What it fails to do is truly address the trans experience. Ghorayshi mentions that more people identify as transgender, but fails to speak to why that is, which is the increased acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, along with modernism, social media, and social liberalism. Instead, she makes frequent and back-handed references to a gender-affirming care doctor’s social media presence, in a botched attempt to subtly insinuate that trans teens are higher in number due to grooming-like practices on social media and elsewhere. Just three weeks ago, Ghorayshi published another piece titled, “How a Small Gender Clinic Landed in a Political Storm,” covering the clinic and children’s hospital affiliated with Washington University in St. Louis, where “whistleblower” Jamie Reed worked. Her allegations, many of which have been disproven, helped push forward a ban on gender-affirming care in the state of Missouri.
According to Assigned Media:
The totality of Reed’s allegations contain many inaccuracies. Some are errors of medical understanding, places where Reed asserts things about the medicine, side effects, or standards of care in treatment of trans youth that simply aren’t true. Many others are broad statements, claims about how employees at the Center routinely conducted themselves. These have been contradicted by every patient and parent to have come forward thus far.
However, Reed’s allegations also contained specific details about certain patients, often including harrowingly personal information about children who struggled with their mental health. Of the families whose specific histories were shared, Heidi’s is the only one to have undergone a full investigation by a reporter. Their family produced records that directly conflict with what Reed alleged, calling other similarly detailed accounts into question as well.
With that in mind, you would think that the NYT would not portray Reed in the manner that they did, but here we are. According to FAIR, “The St. Louis Post Dispatch (3/5/23) and the Missouri Independent (3/1/23) each interviewed dozens of adolescents and their parents whose accounts contradicted Reed’s claims about the center’s practices. Reed refused to be interviewed by either publication to discuss the discrepancies. Instead, she went to the New York Times, which was more than willing to frame her allegations in a positive light.” The culmination of that treatment is visible in Ghorayshi’s recent piece.
Reed herself has been told that she twisted the stories of many of the clinic’s patients, all of which was told to Ghorayshi by the parents she “interviewed” for her recent piece. I put “interview” in quotes here because Assigned Media was able to chat with those very parents who feel betrayed by the story that Ghorayshi told, one that was very different from what they had discussed. In fact, one set of parents tried to pull out of the story because of how positively Reed was being portrayed. Ghorayshi wouldn’t take no for an answer and pressured them into keeping their names and story in the piece. However, their perspectives are undermined and shoved into the bottom section of the article, while Reed’s face serves as the cover photo. What upstanding journalism. (You can read/listen to more about this story in The Objective or from The Majority Report).
And as if this wasn’t bad enough, the NYT responded to TransLash’s The Anti-Trans Hate Machine: a Plot Against Equality Season 2, Episode 5: Capturing the New York Times. Part of the Times’ statement reads as follows:
We reject the claim that our coverage is biased. The role of an independent news organization is to report on issues of public importance and follow the facts where they lead.
As part of that mission, we’ve reported fully and fairly on transgender issues ranging from challenges and prejudice faced by the community, to the fight for expanding rights and freedoms, and open debates about care. Our coverage has been rigorously reported and edited, respectful of the people we’re covering and sensitive to the moment.
As you might imagine, "respectful" and "sensitive" are not words the parents interviewed by Ghorayshi would use to describe her. In fact, one parent painted an unflattering portait for Assigned Media of the NYT reporter.
As Heidi describes it, Ghorayshi followed her to her car, at one point standing in an open car door to prevent them from driving off, adamantly arguing for the family not to leave, not to end the conversation, and above all not to pull out of the piece. Eventually, Heidi and her husband drove away, feeling certain that they were through. But Ghorayshi called and called, and eventually they relented, allowing her to come to a hotel room they’d booked for the night. There, the three spent hours going over every paragraph, as described in detail by Ghorayshi, of what the upcoming NYT article would contain.
Heidi and her husband weren’t happy with what they heard, but now they were faced with a terrible dilemma. If they pulled out of the story there would be nothing on the record showing that Reed’s affidavit directly misrepresented a specific event.
‘You’ve betrayed us, Azeen. You have completely betrayed us,’ Heidi recalls telling Ghorayshi that night. Defeated, they eventually agreed that their story would remain in the piece.
As with any news organization, the responsibility of a story lies not only with the writer/reporter, but with the editor as well. The NYT has been called out by numerous LGBTQ+ people and organizations, folks that have been featured in their stories, and by the very people who work for them. Frankly, one wonders: How many of NYT articles need to be cited by The Daily Wire or in court cases that seek to ban gender-affirming care before “the paper of record” takes stock of its legacy?
🏳️🌈 Canada is issuing a travel warning to its LGBTQ+ citizens who might be considering a visit to the US. (The New Republic) This warning stands alongside various stories of LGBTQ+ U.S. citizens becoming refugees in their own country. (Facing South)
🏳️🌈 Ninety-four percent of LGBTQ+ respondents to a recent national survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign stated that they feel less safe as a result of gender-affirming care bans. While to many of us, this statistic seems obvious, it’s a crucial fact to acknowledge, especially when Republicans are pushing these bans as a method of protecting trans youth. (AZ Mirror)
🏳️🌈 DeSantis appointed extremist group Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich to Florida’s ethics committee, a move that represents an interesting take on the term “ethical.” (The New Republic)
🏳️🌈 Texas’ S.B. 14 bill, which bans gender-affirming care for minors, took effect on September 1st. The negative impacts of the ban are already evident. (Texas Observer)
🏳️🌈 The National Review is conflating keeping a child’s confidence with “abuse.” Such a move works to reduce the privacy allowed to LGBTQ+ minors who might seek comfort, solace, guidance, and safety with adults other than their parents. Such a relationship is crucial for some LGBTQ+ minors who are unable to be themselves at home or with their families out of fear of conversion therapy, being kicked out or ostracized, or of being actually abused. (Assigned Media)
__Thank you for being here, and thank you for your diligent, informed, and independent news consumption. I’ll see you in two weeks.
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