GLAAD recently sent a letter to The New York Times criticizing its coverage of trans youth healthcare issues (Image via the Philadelphia Gay News).
By Mark Segal
Last week found me in London for what turned out to be three major speaking events. It also came in the wake of what I believe is one of the most horrible of trans hate actions ever publicly reported in the United Kingdom: 16-year-old Brianna Ghey was killed when she was stabbed multiple times in a park by two 15-year-olds.
Police initially said it was not related to her being transgender. If that were not enough, the mainstream media didn’t report it as an anti-trans attack and the government, because of their anti-trans laws, misgendered her in all the investigative papers — including her death certificate — since she was not allowed by law to change her birth certificate.
Police later said that all lines of inquiry were being explored, “including whether this was a hate crime,” CNN reported.
Back here in the U.S., we are not talking about the 400 anti-transgender laws that have been introduced in the U.S. In the U.K. the issue is so divisive that it literally has the possibility of breaking up the United Kingdom, with Scotland contemplating a vote on whether to leave the union.
So in each of the speeches I felt compelled to bring up her name, Brianna Ghey, and give her the identity she deserved, an identity her parents supported, but the British government and mainstream media did not.
Those of us in our community that support transgender health and legal issues seem to want to do nothing but debate. The reality is, much of the anger is being targeted at those who agree with trans policies rather than those who fight against trans people.
We all agree that trans people and children have a right to their health and proper respect by governments. We all agree that politicians, mostly Republicans, are grandstanding on anti-trans issues.
In the middle of all this, GLAAD decided to create a debate about the New York Times’ reporting on the issue of transgender healthcare.
The advocacy group called out the NYT for “irresponsible, biased coverage of transgender people” and created a petition against the publication. These actions are why we are losing on this issue, and it’s sad that our national organization which is supposed to understand media has proven that it does not.
While GLAAD’s action will help their fundraising, it adds discourse that distracts from the real fight.
You can’t begin to fight the injustices until you understand how those supporting injustice are fighting. In this case, they’re allowing us to fight against ourselves and divide ourselves, and GLAAD contributed to that.
Here is the ONE simple point that those Republicans use: they state the medical treatment for trans children, “harms children.”
They’re using the same debate that Anita Bryant used in Florida in the 1970’s. Back then it was “Save our Children.” It’s a simple message, and it requires a simple counter attack. But instead we go into the weeds and debate all health and legal issues and attack the New York Times as the major culprit. Does this sound like Trump and calls of fake news? The New York Times is not the enemy, Republicans are.
GLAAD’s major talking point is that the NYT didn’t print only one side of the trans issue, but spoke to people that they would not approve of. That’s called censorship.
In the end, the NYT will either consider you irrelevant or put out a blanket statement that they have learned from this experience. GLAAD will have raised more funds, and we all will have wasted time we could have spent fighting the real enemy.
My friend and fellow journalist Chris Johnson formally of the Washington Blade wrote an important piece about this issue, titled “Why a crusade against the New York Times shows LGBTQ groups outlived their purpose.”
It’s a good piece, and it reflects on how far groups such as GLAAD have come — and how far they have strayed from their original purpose.
Ron DeSantis is the enemy. Greg Abbott is the enemy. Moms For Liberty is the enemy. Republican state legislators are the enemy. Don’t forget it.
Mark Segal is the founder and publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, a publishing partner of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this commentary first appeared.
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