Human Rights Campaign Calls Out New York Times for Publishing Transphobic Column One Day After an Open Letter Condemning its Anti-Transgender Coverage

by Elizabeth Bibi

This morning, the New York Times published yet another opinion piece attacking the transgender and non-binary community. The piece, “In Defense of J.K. Rowling” was written by Pamela Paul and was published merely one day after 100+ journalists, organizations, community leaders and influencers sent an open letter calling on The Times to improve their coverage of transgender people and issues. Another 200 New York Times contributors also signed an open letter to the paper criticizing their bias in reporting about the transgender community.

The open letter comes after more than a year of irresponsible, biased news and opinion pieces about the transgender community, specifically from columnist Pamela Paul. Today’s article is the latest in a long line of Paul’s transphobic opinion pieces; earlier this year she wrote a piece condemning the use of inclusive language and another about how the LGBTQ+ movement should stop using the word ‘queer.

In response, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Kelley Robinson issued the following statement:

“Just yesterday, 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. The Times must stop consistently platforming anti-LGBTQ+ extremists. They must do better, because there are real lives at stake.”

Kelley Robinson, President, Human Rights Campaign

Notable signatories to yesterday’s open letter include PFLAG, Transgender Law Center, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, and the Women’s March to Ashlee Marie Preston, Gabrielle Union-Wade, Jameela Jamil, Jonathan Van Ness, Judd Apatow, Lena Dunham, Margaret Cho, Peppermint, Shakina, Tommy Dorfman, Wilson Cruz.

Additionally, yesterday more than 180 contributors to the New York Times published a letter to the Times, calling out the outlet’s biased transgender coverage, including Ashley P. Ford, Roxane Gay, Carmen Maria Machado, Thomas Page McBee, Andrea Long Chu, Carmen Maria Machado, John Cameron Mitchell, Zach Stafford, Raquel Willis, and more.

Excerpt from letter signed by HRC, GLAAD & 100+ organizations and notables:

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’ fear mongering 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

Excerpt from the letter from 180+ New York Times contributors:

“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.” Read the full letter and list of signers here.

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