Responding to transphobic news coverage

In recent years, you may have noticed an increase in negative news coverage about transgender people. Such stories often come with a biased framing that prejudices the reader against a vulnerable group.

In some instances, the biases are obvious, as in the case of news stories with titles like “transgender person [commits crime]”. These reports may come from reputable news outlets who would never think of publishing a story with the title of “cisgender heterosexual person [commits crime].”

In other instances, the problematic framing of news stories might be less obvious to the casual observer but still harmful, such as the omission of facts and figures that could give the reader a more nuanced and accurate perspective on the performance of cisgender athletes vs transgender athletes. Such omissions further uninformed perspectives that could be manipulated for political gain by those with less noble intentions.

Negative news stories have a real impact on the well bring of our relatives and community members who are transgender.

…by decreasing the number of young people referred for gender-affirming care, negative media coverage may result in worse mental health among a vulnerable group of society who already face numerous barriers and risks in accessing such care…

… TGD youth qualitatively report that negative news stories can directly harm their mental well-being by triggering feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear. …

Last but not least, media that question the legitimacy of gender diversity or depict TGD identities as inherently pathological may contribute to disbelief and mistrust of TGD individuals within broader society and thus perpetuate the transphobia that still plagues the lives of TGD people worldwide.

Negative Media Coverage as a Barrier to Accessing Care for Transgender Children and Adolescents || JAMA Network

Below are some actions that you may take in response to transphobic news coverage.

Speak up and tell the media to do better

Example 1: Nearly 1,000 contributors protest New York Times’ coverage of trans people | US news | The Guardian

Example 2: Sample text for contacting a news source about a problematic story

I am writing with regards to the article “Transgender person [performs negative action]”, published on [date]. The sensationalized title of this news article caters to transphobia even though it is supposedly from a reputable news source.

The false idea that transgender people are more highly associated with [negative trait] is a transphobic trope that has been used to demonize transgender people. If you don’t publish articles with the title “cisgender heterosexual man [performs negative action]”, you shouldn’t be publishing articles with the title “transgender person [performs negative action].

We are seeing an unprecedented rise in anti-trans hate in this country – a surge in anti-transgender legislation over the past few years, coupled with increased hate crimes against transgender people. See

Nearly 240 anti-LGBTQ bills filed in 2022 so far, most of them targeting trans people (

Hate crimes are rising as anti-LGBTQ+ legislation passes (

As a responsible news outlet, you have a moral duty not to feed this hatred against community members who are transgender. If you publish a negative news story about a transgender individual, please also publish at least 3 positive news stories about transgender people helping their communities with visibility equal to the negative story.

You have the power to choose to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Support organizations that hold the media accountable

Example: New York Times Sign On Letter from GLAAD

The New York Times response is as ill-informed as its coverage of transgender people. It is shameful that the Times’ response blatantly ignores today’s letter from 180+ of their own contributors and does not address the 120+ organizations and leaders who signed the letter alongside GLAAD…

Share positive news stories about transgender individuals contributing to society

If you encounter someone sharing transphobic news online, do not comment on the post to argue with the original poster. Interacting with their post will only increase its visibility. Instead, make your own post featuring a positive story about transgender individuals serving our larger community. Here are some positive stories that you could share.

Educate acquaintances about the unbalanced framing around reporting on transgender issues

Once community members understand how we are being pushed toward bias by news reports that cherry-pick facts blindly repeat faulty “reasoning” , we are more likely more likely to question manipulative narratives that have previously closed our eyes to the bigger picture.

Some resources:
Talking about transgender athletes