If there's any doubt how clueless conservative media figures are when it comes to transgender issues, the recent freak out over California's new student non-discrimination law should put it to rest.
For the past several weeks, conservative media outlets have been stoking fears about a new California law that will allow transgender students to have access to school facilities and sports teams that match their gender identity. The law has drawn criticism from outlets like Fox News, which warns that the law will allow boys to sneak into girls' bathrooms and engage in inappropriate behavior.
Case in point: Media Research Center Content Specialist Dan Joseph, who on August 15 released a video in which he poses as a transgender female and asks a woman if she would be comfortable with him using the same restroom as her:
JOSEPH: Excuse me. Are you going into the locker room?
JOSEPH: My name is Dan. I'm a transgender. So that means I have the man parts but inside I feel more like a woman. I was just wondering, is it okay if I go in there with you in there and change and shower and stuff? Just because I don't really feel, like, comfortable in the men's area. It's just weird. Is that okay with you?
Other than attempting to feminize his voice, Joseph doesn't present himself in any way as a female in the clip. He is wearing men's clothing, has a full goatee, and goes by his male name, "Dan."
His impersonation is a perfect example of everything that's wrong with how conservative media imagine transgender people.
Fox News continued its fact-free attack on a proposed San Antonio ordinance to ban anti-LGBT discrimination, blatantly misrepresenting the measure while portraying it as an attack on "faith."
During the August 16 edition of Fox & Friends, guest host Shannon Bream invited San Antonio pastor Steven Branson to criticize a proposed non-discrimination ordinance that would:
Bream confused two separate portions of the ordinance, falsely stating that businesses owners would be barred from holding city contracts if they spoke out against homosexuality:
BREAM: A First Amendment battle heating up in San Antonio, Texas, as lawmakers consider a controversial measure that could block business owners from holding contracts with the city if they speak out against homosexuality based on their religious beliefs. That could include Christians who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. So does this wind up being a case of reverse discrimination, potentially?
BREAM: I know that this ordinance, which basically says that you can't hold certain positions or get work with this city - and it's in draft form now - if you speak out in "word or deed" against homosexuality.
NBC Universal has pledged to report on the impact of Russia's draconian new anti-gay laws during its exclusive coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics, but its financial stake in maintaining a positive relationship with the International Olympics Commission (IOC) raises questions about the network's ability to be objective in its reporting.
NBC has faced increasing pressure to report on Russia's harsh anti-gay laws - including a measure that bans vaguely defined pro-gay "propaganda" - during its coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi this February. Despite assurances from the IOC, Russian officials have warned that the law will be enforced against Olympians and visitors who display or demonstrate support for LGBT equality during the games.
Mark Lazarus, chairman of the NBC Sports Group, has stated that NBC will "acknowledge" the law in its coverage if it affects the Olympic Games in any way, saying, "If it is still their law and it is impacting any part of the Olympic Games, we will make sure that we acknowledge it and recognize it."
But NBC's ability to objectively cover the Olympic controversy is potentially threatened by the network's own financial interests. As Time magazine reporter Sean Gregory noted, NBC paid the IOC more than $4 billion for television rights to the Sochi Olympics, as well as rights to the 2016, 2018, and 2020 Olympics. The hefty price tag demonstrates how valuable NBC considers its exclusive access to the Olympic Games to be, an agreement which is granted by the IOC directly.
NBC's close relationship with the IOC is likely to become problematic as the IOC begins to take its own precautions to crack down on pro-gay "propaganda."
A handful of fringe anti-gay activists are having a meltdown over a "report" that alleges Fox News harbors a "growing pro-homosexual bias," ignoring the network's ongoing track record of smearing and stoking fears about LGBT people and LGBT equality.
On August 14, the xenophobic, Islamophobic, and homophobic right-wing group America's Survival published a "report" documenting Fox News' alleged "growing pro-homosexual bias," citing the network's ties to the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) and occasionally favorable coverage of marriage equality by personalities like hosts Megyn Kelly and Shepard Smith.
The rambling, 40,000-word report was written by Peter LaBarbera, president of one of the fringiest anti-gay hate groups in America - Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH). It's already being touted by other anti-gay hate mongers, including the American Family Association's (AFA) Bryan Fischer:
CNN legal analyst Paul Callan criticized a recently enacted California law that will allow transgender students to have access to facilities and sports teams that correspond to their gender identity, arguing that non-discrimination law had moved too quickly with respect to transgender elementary school students.
During the August 13 edition of CNN Newsroom, host Ashleigh Banfield invited Callan and criminal defense attorney Danny Cevallos to discuss the recently enacted law. Cevallos warned that the measure might "infring[e] on the privacy of other children," asserting - without evidence or explanation - that the mere presence of a transgender student would be enough to violate other students' privacy rights.
Callan echoed his concerns, suggesting that protections for transgender students had "moved a little too fast in this area" and questioning if children in the first grade could even be identified as transgender:
CALLAN: Pardon my lack of political correctness on this, but when I hear that a first grader is a girl trapped in a boy's body or vice versa and wants to use the girls room as opposed to the boys room I wonder if the science sort of has kept up with where society is on this issue. I think a lot of people would be very upset if they thought their first grade child, girl, was going be in the bathroom with a boy who thinks he's a girl. And I think maybe the law has moved a little too fast in this area, at least with respect to elementary school students.
BANFIELD: Not if you're transgender. No, you have been discriminated against openly for your whole life.
CALLAN: Oh, no, no. That's fine when we get old, older, maybe into adolescence and gender identity is clear. I'm not so sure gender identity is clear in the first grade.
Fox News launched a smear campaign against a historic California law that would allow transgender public school students to have access to school facilities and athletic teams that match their gender identity. The network peddled a number of myths about the measure, adding to Fox's long history of promoting damaging transphobic misinformation.
Fox News hosted a spokesman from an anti-gay hate group to continue the network's ongoing assault on a California bill that will allow transgender students to have access to school facilities and teams that correspond with their gender identity.
Following Gov. Jerry Brown's signing of a law that prohibits California public schools from discriminating against transgender students, Fox News invited Peter Sprigg, spokesman for the Family Research Council (FRC), to appear on the August 13 edition of America's Newsroom.
Sprigg - whose history of extreme anti-LGBT commentary includes suggesting that gay people should be exported from the U.S. - asserted that the law would ignore "biological reality" while pandering to students' "transient feelings and emotions":
Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes suggested President Obama might be secretly gay following statements the president made in support of gay Olympians competing in the 2014 Winter Games.
On August 9, President Obama stated his opposition to Russia's strict anti-gay laws, which could threaten openly gay Olympians and visitors during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. At a press conference, Obama said "nobody's more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and -lesbian legislation that we've been seeing in Russia."
Fox News Radio reporter mocked President Obama for statements he made in support of gay Olympians who might be targeted by Russia's strict anti-gay laws during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
During an August 9 press conference, Obama stated his opposition to Russia's anti-gay laws - including a measure that would criminalize "homosexual propaganda" - saying "nobody's more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and -lesbian legislation that we've been seeing in Russia."
Starnes took to Twitter to mock the president's comments, accusing Obama of discriminating against heterosexual athletes:
He also advanced the bogus right-wing talking point that Obama was prioritizing gay rights over other foreign policy considerations:
Fox News attacked a bill in California to allow transgender students equal access to school facilities and programs, inappropriately calling the measure a "bathroom bill" and interviewing a notorious anti-LGBT activist to suggest that students will use the law to take advantage of members of the opposite sex.
During the August 9 edition of Happening Now, Fox News reporter Adam Housley discussed a California bill that would require public schools to allow transgender students to choose which school teams they wish to join based on their gender identity. The bill would also allow transgender students to use restrooms and facilities that match their gender identity.
Throughout the segment, Fox's chyron inaccurately identified the measure as a "bathroom bill," while Housley echoed right-wing fears that the measure might lead to inappropriate behavior between students:
HOUSLEY: Those opposed say we're going too far with students and actually hurts the general population as a whole. They say that kids potentially could take advantage of this and parents will have to start worrying about boys showering with girls and vice versa.
The segment also featured a statement from Brad Dacus - the president of the notoriously anti-LGBT Pacific Justice Institute - who warned that the bill "grotesquely violates the privacy rights and security interests and needs of students."
Fox's framing of the measure as a "bathroom bill" is a shameless attempt to prop up the right-wing myth that transgender protections will be exploited by sex offenders who want to infiltrate opposite sex bathrooms.
In reality, the measure would merely affirm current law which prohibits California public schools from discriminating against transgender students. Allowing access to appropriate facilities and participation on school teams is an important step to deal with the high rates of bullying and harassment faced by transgender students. As a recent decision by the Colorado Rights Division stated, refusing this kind of access to transgender students "creates an environment that is objectively and subjectively hostile, intimidating, or offensive."
Aside from peddling the baseless "bathroom bill" myth, Housley also referenced the case of a transgender male in a Los Angeles school district who successfully pushed his school to grant him access to appropriate facilities. Housley repeatedly referred to the student, who identifies as male, as a female, adding to Fox's long-standing transphobia problem.