New York Times missing trans voices in articles, study says

New York Times Trans Voices

The New York Times has failed to quote any trans person in 66% of its articles in the past 12 months on anti-trans legislation in the U.S., according to a recently released study. Photo: Molly Butler/Media Matters

The New York Times has failed to quote any trans person in 66% of its articles in the past 12 months on anti-trans legislation in the U.S., according to a recently released study.

GLAAD and Media Matters released the study this week, approximately one year after journalists and activists called out The New York Times for amplifying anti-transgender voices. The outlet dismissed all criticisms of its coverage as “protests organized by advocacy groups,” the study said.

The study reviewed Times’ stories from Feb. 15, 2023, to Feb. 15, 2024.

“One of the first recommendations we make during the hundreds of LGBTQ education briefings we hold with national and local newsrooms is to include LGBTQ voices in LGBTQ stories: interview the people impacted by your coverage and include their perspectives,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a press release

“The New York Times failed that basic reporting lesson 101, and replaced it with a pattern of obfuscating sources’ anti-trans affiliations and allowing their misinformation to go unchecked. Our coalition of more than 150 organizations, community leaders, and notable LGBTQ people and allies remains steadfast in our calls for the Times to improve their coverage of transgender people,” Ellis said.

“The paper of record has an obligation to present its readers with the full human toll of the anti-trans legislative assault,” Ari Drennen, LGBTQ program director at Media Matters, said in the same release. “Trans people are more than theoretical curiosities to be debated from afar. Each and every anti-trans bill affects living, breathing people whose voices deserve to be heard and whose stories deserve to be told.”

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Here are some findings from the study.

  • At least 65 articles mentioned anti-trans legislation in either their headline or lead paragraphs, but two-thirds of them did not quote a trans or gender non-conforming person, according to the study.
  • Only one in 19 articles from July through September did.
  • 18% of the pieces overall “included anti-trans misinformation in quotes without adequate fact-checking or additional context,” a press release from the groups said.

One article, for instance, quoted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as saying gender-affirming care is a euphemism for “sex-change operations,” when in fact it includes nonsurgical treatment, and genital surgery is not recommended for minors. 

DeSantis also falsely claimed that providing such care amounts to “sexualizing” children.

The New York Times has published Republican criticism of allowing trans people to serve in the military, with politicians claiming the public is on their side, even though polls indicate a large majority of Americans approve of trans inclusion, the study says.

The publication also has included assertions that young people are being rushed into gender-affirming care and their parents manipulated into allowing it, when in reality they often encounter long waits for care.

“With more than 470 bills targeting LGBTQ people having already been introduced by state legislatures around the country in 2024, The New York Times has a responsibility to not feed a moral panic that is being seeded by right-wing media about trans identity and instead should focus on improving its coverage by centering the voices of those being impacted by these harmful bills,” the press release said.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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