New York Times contributors wrote a letter to the newspaper's associate managing editor for standards on Wednesday, expressing "serious concerns" about the Times' "editorial bias" in its coverage of "transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people," the New York Post reported.
Contributors accused the Times of treating "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."
The letter, addressed to Philip B. Corbett, the Times' associate managing editor for standards, was signed by nearly 200 contributors and supported by another 20,000 media workers, subscribers, and readers. Some of those prominent contributors and supporters included Lena Dunham, Cynthia Nixon, Gabrielle Union, Judd Apatow, and Jameela Jamil.
The letter argued that, by the Times' own standards, reports are supposed to "preserve a professional detachment, free of any whiff of bias" and remain "sensitive that personal relationships with news sources can erode into favoritism, in fact or appearance."
Contributors noted that many reporters at the Times have covered transgender-related issues "fairly." However, they roasted the newspaper for publishing "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."
In particular, contributors took issue with an article by Emily Bazelon titled "The Battle Over Gender Therapy," which they lambasted for using the term "patient zero" to refer to a transgender child. They argued that the phrase "vilifies transness as a disease to be feared." Contributors also took issue with the sources Bazelon used in the article.
The letter cited the Times article, "When Students Change Gender Identity and Parents Don't Know," by Katie Baker as another example of allegedly biased reporting. They accused the piece of "misfram[ing] the battle over children's right to safely transition" and claimed that Baker failed to clarify that "court cases brought by parents who want schools to out their trans children are part of a legal strategy pursued by anti-trans hate groups."
"These groups have identified trans people as an 'existential threat to society' and seek to replace the American public education system with Christian homeschooling, key context Baker did not provide to Times readers," the letter stated.
Contributors accused the Times of "follow[ing] the lead of far-right hate groups in presenting gender diversity as a new controversy warranting new, punitive legislation."
In a separate effort, another 130 LGBT+ organizations signed a letter to the Times, similarly accusing the outlet of "irresponsible, biased coverage of transgender people."
The letter was hand-delivered yesterday to the Times' office in Manhattan by members of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
The organizations criticized the Times' coverage and made a list of demands, including "stop printing biased anti-trans stories;" "hold a meeting with transgender community members and leaders, and listen throughout that meeting;" and "genuinely invest in hiring trans writers and editors, full time on your staff."
Times spokesperson Charlie Stadtlander defended the newspaper's reporting.
"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," Stadtlander told NPR.
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