Parental rights advocates are reporting mounting frustration with activist media corporations over their reporting on efforts across the country to limit sex change treatments for children.
A styleguide from the Trans Journalists Association (TJA), advised reporters to de-emphasize stories on detransitioning and avoid terms like ” biological male” and “biological female” and the term “transgenderism.” The Human Rights council’s guidance recommends against “deadnaming” transgender people, a word describing when a name used before a person’s transition is used after their transition. AP’s style guide similarly condemns “deadnaming” since it is “akin to using a slur and can cause feelings of gender dysphoria to resurface,” National Review reported. Now, it is common practice for most major corporate media outlets to use activist-approved language in their reporting
During a Twitter thread covering a bill banning sex change treatments for minors in Texas, Elena Rivera, a reporter for the NPR affiliate KERA News, linked to TJA’s trans reporting guidance. Rivera failed to include any of the testimony for the bill, especially that coming from detransitioners, following the TJA’s reporting guidance. (RELATED: Majority Of Voters Back Legislation That Would Require Schools To Tell Parents About Students’ Gender Transitions)
An LA Times article criticizing prominent detransitioner Chloe Cole’s lawsuit against Kaiser Health argued that only a small amount of transgender children go on to detransition in adulthood, and that profiling of detransitioners is merely a ploy by Republicans to target trans people. Cole says that the outlet never reached out to her for comment for the piece.
A year before the New York Times faced criticism from trans activists for its critical reporting on sex changes, the Washington Post issued a guide to its reporters “intended to be a clear and accurate starting point to help readers better understand gender issues.”
Another detransitioner is suing Kaiser Permanente for allegedly administering hormones & a mastectomy when she was 12/13. She had serious mental health problems, but doctors “immediately” cleared her for the procedures, per her attorneys. @DailyCaller https://t.co/4731dS7Tc6
— Laurel Duggan (@laureldugg) March 17, 2023
The same outlet published an article on March 1 profiling a bill known as Sage’s Law, which banned teachers from keeping a child’s gender transition from his or her parents. The legislation was put forward by Virginia Delegate Dave LaRock, and was named for a 14-year-old girl who was brutally sex-trafficked and raped after the school hid her self-identity as a boy from her parents for fear they would “misgender” her. While her parents fought for custody, Sage was kept in a male children’s home where she was repeatedly assaulted and offered street drugs. Sage’s adopted mother gave tearful testimony on the House floor in January.
The Washington Post, which never addressed the story behind the bill or referred to the bill by its name, framed it as legislation “aimed at trans youth.” While the author of the piece interviewed LaRock, the delegate told the Daily Caller she did not give adequate representation to his and Sage’s side of the story.
“Call me naïve. I keep falling for the same old bait,” LaRock told the Caller. “A smart reporter who sounds interested in an unfolding issue that the public is waking up to, that matters to me, in this case to Sage and her mom also, and is being embraced by people across the political spectrum.” (RELATED: Former Republican Lawmaker Voices Support For Child Sex Changes Because Of ‘7-Year-Old’ Trans Grandchild)
“I would note that while this reporter attended the press conference AGAINST Sage’s Law organized by Equality Virginia, she was conspicuously absent from my press conference discussing Sage’s Law in depth a few days later.”
LaRock says the Post reporter’s framing of the bill mirrored that of the Democrat opposition to the bill, which focused on what they saw as a risk of kids being “forcibly outted,” largely ignoring the concerns of parental rights advocates.
“The Post article mirrored the bias of the bill’s opponents, Sen. Hashmi and Del. Roem, and Equality Virginia,” LaRock continued. “Not once did the reason for Sage’s Law, the story of Sage’s horrific experience or Sage or Michelle, Sage’s mom, come up during the press conference against the bill—just the bill number. It’s a very effective and offensive way of dehumanizing Sage by severing the link between real-life facts and policy.”
A mother gives her testimony on the story behind Sage’s Law:
Educators kept her daughter’s gender identity secret, and even withheld custody, keeping Sage in a male children’s home where she was repeatedly assaulted and given drugs. pic.twitter.com/E4325kWwLi
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) January 31, 2023
Laura Hanford, a parental rights activist who was one of the architects of Sage’s Law, said not using the bill’s name was a tactic to misrepresent the legislation.
“It’s an article that keeps readers in the dark about a bill that opposes keeping parents in the dark, by a paper that claims darkness leads to death,” Hanford said, referring to the Post’s slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”
“Parents deserve to know what was really at stake in the Virginia Assembly with Sage’s Law, but they won’t read about it in the Washington Post, which deliberately erased not only her story but even Sage’s name.” (RELATED: Here Are The West Virginia Republicans Who Voted To Allow Sex Change Treatments For Gender Confused Kids)
Perhaps one of the most high-profile examples of media wars regarding transgender legislation had to do with the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill out of Florida, which protects parental rights by prohibiting classroom discussions about sex and sexuality with children from kindergarten to third grade. The word “gay” did not even appear once in the bill, but media outlets still adopted the phrasing “Don’t Say Gay” to refer to the legislation in their reporting.
“The bill was essentially rebranded in a very effective way,” January Littlejohn, a Florida mother suing her 13-year-old daughter’s school for allegedly helping her transition and asking her what pronouns, bathrooms, and name she wished to use without her parent’s knowledge, told the Caller. “And what that did was distract from what the bill was designed to do, which was protect parental rights and ensure that parents would be included in any critical decisions being made with their children at school, that would affect their emotional mental or physical well being.”
Littlejohn’s lawsuit and story is said to have been a catalyst for the Florida bill. Gov. DeSantis praised the mother for standing up the school district when he signed the legislation, saying, “The bill I signed today protects Florida parents like January Littlejohn.”
“I guess in their view, Sage is just collateral damage to their cause since Sage’s name is not even worth mentioning,” LaRock said. “To the WP, I say, ‘Say her name.'”