jk rowling new york times anti-trans bias tweet and article.

New York Times Anti-trans Bias Petition

Updated Feb 16, 2023 at 11:27PM EST by Zach.

Added Feb 16, 2023 at 10:27AM EST by Adam.

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Overview

New York Times Anti-trans Bias Petition refers to an open letter signed by hundreds of media professionals, including New York Times contributors, decrying the paper for purportedly prioritizing the publication of opinion pieces that are perceived as sympathetic towards anti-transgender views and stories. The petition spread widely on social media in mid-February 2023. However, the day after the petition was first posted, the paper then published a piece titled "In Defense of J.K. Rowling" (the Harry Potter author accused of espousing TERF ideologies), leading some to suspect it may have signaled an intentional rejection of the petition, sparking further controversy online.

Background

On February 15th, 2023, an open letter[1] decrying the paper for perceived anti-trans coverage, first sent out by New York Times contributors, circulated on social media. The letter noted several recent stories published in the NY Times that received front-page or high-visibility placements in the paper. Stories such as “The Battle Over Gender Therapy” by Emily Bazelon, "When Students Change Gender Identity and Parents Don’t Know" by Katie Baker, "How to Make Sense of the New L.G.B.T.Q. Culture War" by Ross Douthat and editorial changing of headlines to remove the word 'trans' from a headline [8] were singled out as articles that have been cited by politicians looking to make gender-affirming care for transitioning teens a felony. The piece also claims how the NYT had a purported history of prioritizing conservative voices in trending social justice issues, such as its coverage of homosexuality in the '60s and the AIDS epidemic in the '80s.


SED stasis baby @HarronWawker ... 180 (and counting) past and present New York Times contributors have signed an open letter to the paper's standards editor condemning the ongoing unethical anti-trans bias in its coverage of trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming people. Read it here nytletter.com 8:38 AM Feb 15, 2023 1.1M Views

In roughly 24 hours, the letter was signed by hundreds of New York Times contributors and supporters, as well as journalists, media workers and supporters not affiliated with the Times.

Developments

As the letter spread, the LGBTQ+ advocacy group GLAAD joined the protest by placing a truck with an electronic sign inviting others to support the cause outside the New York Times office in Manhattan on February 15th, 2023 (seen below).[2]


GLAAD @glaad We've had enough. We've joined over 100 organizations and leaders to demand that @nytimes stop printing inaccurate and harmful misinformation about transgender people and issues. Today we are outside of the Times building to send a clear message. glaad.org/nytimes II 0:03 256.4K views R NOW STOP QUESTIONING TRANS PEOPLI RIGHT TO EXIS & ACCESS TO MEDICAL CARE GLAAD.ORG/NYTIMES • JOIN 100+ ORGANIZATIONS AND LEADERS CALLING ON THE NEW YORK TIMES TO CHANGE: GLAAD.ORG/NYTIMES 8:47 AM Feb 15, 2023 1.5M Views DEAR NEW YORK TIMES: STOP QUESTIONING TRANS PEOPLE'S RIGHT TO EXIST & ACCESS TO MEDICAL CARE. GLAAD.ORG/NYTIMES EVERY MAJOR MEDICAL ASSOCIATION SUPPORTS GENDER-AFFIRMING HEALTHCARE FOR TRANSGENDER YOUTH. THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED. YET THE NEW YORK TIMES CONTINUES TO PLATFORM ANTI-TRANS ACTIVISTS OVER MEDICAL EXPERTS. GLAAD.ORG/NYTIMIS :

In response to the letter, the New York Times external communications director Charlie Stadtlander defended the pieces cited as "deeply and empathetically" researched that same day (shown below).[5]


"We received the open letter delivered by GLAAD and welcome their feedback. We understand how GLAAD and the co-signers of the letter see 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 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."

J.K. Rowling Defense Piece

The day after the letter was published on February 16th, 2023, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Pamela Paul titled "In Defense of J.K. Rowling."[3] The piece aims to argue that nothing J.K. Rowling has said or done has been transphobic, stating that Rowling's documented stance against letting trans people use bathrooms in accordance with their gender is not transphobic, among other things. A pertinent quote reads:

So why would anyone accuse her of transphobia? Surely, Rowling must have played some part, you might think.

The answer is straightforward: Because she has asserted the right to spaces for biological women only, such as domestic abuse shelters and sex-segregated prisons. Because she has insisted that when it comes to determining a person’s legal gender status, self-declared gender identity is insufficient. Because she has expressed skepticism about phrases like “people who menstruate” in reference to biological women. Because she has defended herself and, far more important, supported others, including detransitioners and feminist scholars, who have come under attack from trans activists. And because she followed on Twitter and praised some of the work of Magdalen Berns, a lesbian feminist who had made incendiary comments about transgender people.

You might disagree -- perhaps strongly -- with Rowling’s views and actions here. You may believe that the prevalence of violence against transgender people means that airing any views contrary to those of vocal trans activists will aggravate animus toward a vulnerable population.

But nothing Rowling has said qualifies as transphobic.


Many who signed or were aware of the circulating petition took the op-ed as the Times' rejection of its content. For example, on February 16th, 2023, Twitter user @aubreyhirsch[4] pointed out the optics of the Times publishing the op-ed, gaining over 500 retweets and 2,700 likes in one day (shown below, left). Also that day, user @Britsanity[7] tweeted, "The NYT is complicit in this ongoing hate campaign against trans people" (shown below, right).


Aubrey Hirsch @aubreyhirsch Hundreds of New York Times contributors and readers: We're concerned that the anti-trans bias in your paper could have devastating effects, both on individuals and society as a whole. The New York Times: = The New York Times OPINION PAMELA PAUL GIVE THE TIMES In Defense of J.K. Rowling Feb. 16, 2023 @Britsanity The New York Times really published an article defending JK Rowling's transphobia a day after several contributors signed a letter begging for them to stop publishing one-sided fallacies about trans people. The NYT is complicit in this ongoing hate campaign against trans people. The New York Times Dear Philip, 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, non-binary, and gende nonconforming people. Plenty of reporters at the Times cover trans issues fairly. The work is eclipsed, however, by what one journalist has calculated as over 15,000 words of front-page Times coverag debating the propriety of medical care for trans children published in the last eight months alone. The newspaper's editorial guidelines demand that reporters "preserve a professional detachment, free of any whiff of bias" when cultivating their sources, remaining "sensitive tha personal relationships with news sources can erode into favoritism, in fact or appearance." Yet the Times has in recen 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. 9:54 AM Feb 16, 2023 943 Views . OPINION PAMELA PAUL In Defense of J.K. Rowling Feb. 16, 2023 8 MIN READ

On February 16th, 2023, the media outlet Defector[6] then strongly criticized the piece in an article titled "The New York Times Continues To Make Its Priorities Clear," writing, "There is no value in this column beyond provocation, and choosing to publish it the morning after these two open letters were sent shows exactly who the Times hopes to provoke: not people in power, but people who have a right to question them."

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