As mentioned previously, I subscribe to a news group that aggregates and emails me all or most (near as I can tell) news stories that mention transgender, transsexual, and marriage equality issues. I see stories from all over the world, from every type of news outlet, and I’ve begun to get a feel for how the subjects are treated by these differing points of view. They fall into three general categories.
The bad ones…well, you’d expect to find Fox News and Washington Times on such a list, but there are others I’d never heard of, and their names are innocuous. Their bias and bigotry are clear in their reportage, though, and this usually starts right away with the headline.
The third group is the websites of small newspapers who don’t cover our issues often. They may be well-intentioned, but their ignorance allows them to drop the ball in various ways.
Here’s a sampling of headlines from the feed and what’s good or bad about them:
Tinkering With Children’s Lives, Again–I’m not sure why the word “Again” is in this California Catholic Conference’s headline. The story is about a bill (since passed into law) in California that would allow transgender school kids to use the restrooms and play on the sports teams of the gender they identify as. The word “tinkering” implies that accommodating transgender kids is a harmful social experiment, rather than a compassionate civil rights advancement. Said “harm” is nowhere substantiated in the story itself.
Tranny Toilets–Classy, huh? This is a poll from lunatic fringe site World Net Daily, which, to calibrate your nutjob detector, has been the pacesetter in the production of “birther” stories since 2008. This story is about the same California bill, and the headline both uses that hateful slur against transpeople and suggests that the bill is related to bathroom panic. Bigots have wanted their bathrooms to themselves since the Jim Crow era.
Calif. transgender students to pick restrooms–Staying with the same story about the new law, this Baptist Press headline is slightly more subtle, but the verb choice, “pick,” makes the clear implication that gender is a choice, not an inborn fact, and further that it’s a choice made on little more than a whim.
Stage set for molestations, privacy violations in Calif. Schools–One News Now is the news arm of Rev. Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association, the anti-gay and anti-pornography ministry. Their headline about the California law foregrounds the editors’ (unfounded) concerns. In the story itself, they say the law “enshrines” transgender rights; no news story is ever in favor of something it describes as being “enshrined.”
Transgender woman returns home in Milford–Here, the Stamford Advocate, a small-town Connecticut paper, is just ignorant. The missing (happily found) person in the story is a transgender man, i.e. female-to-male.
I’ll come back to this and do another roundup in a few weeks.