Diversity & Discrimination

Issues ››› Diversity & Discrimination
  • Fox Host Wonders If Abuse Suffered By Transgender Detainees Is Even Worth Avoiding 

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Fox hosts criticized an announcement that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plans to open a detention center equipped to house transgender individuals, asking whether “catering to illegal transgenders” is “even necessary.” In fact, there is documented evidence of high rates of sexual assault and abuse that transgender women face while detained at ICE facilities.

  • How Coverage Of Transgender Issues In Hispanic Media Is Improving

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Univision and Telemundo, the biggest players in Spanish-language media, are making notable strides in their coverage of transgender issues, a topic in need of improved visibility among Hispanic audiences. 

    During the first third of 2016, a Media Matters guest demographic study showed transgender voices were absent from Spanish-language Sunday shows. But recently, Univision and Telemundo have both included transgender voices -- Univision on their nightly news show and Telemundo on their Sunday show -- in their reporting on the recent slew of  anti-LGBT bathroom bills, which bar transgender people from using facilities that correspond to their gender identity. On the May 22 edition of their Sunday show Enfoque, Telemundo brought on a transgender teenager to talk about discrimination:

    Latinos and Latinas face extra hurdles compared to other LGBT folks in the form of family structure and religion that may often suppress their ability to be open about their gender and/or sexuality. When Hispanic media gives transgender people a platform to tell their own stories, it helps educate viewers and debunk myths and stereotypes about transgender people.

    In the past, Spanish-language news networks have aired stories that include inaccurate and dehumanizing language about transgender people. Last year, networks also failed to cover a wave of deadly violence against  transgender women of color. National news networks have a history of irresponsible and inaccurate journalism when it comes to transgender issues, but Spanish-language networks are taking a much-needed step in the right direction.

  • Time Magazine Cover Story Fact Checks Right-Wing Anti-LGBT “Bathroom Predator” Myth

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Time magazine’s cover story profiling the fight for transgender equality debunked the anti-LGBT “bathroom predator” myth that nondiscrimination protections for transgender people endanger women’s safety.

    Time magazine's May 30 cover story, “Battle of the Bathroom,” dissected the high-profile battle for transgender equality centered largely around access to bathrooms. In reporting on transgender equality, many media outlets have uncritically parroted the widely debunked myth that nondiscrimination protections for transgender people will allow male sexual predators to sneak into women’s bathrooms by pretending to be transgender.

    To debunk the “bathroom predator” myth, Time cited Los Angeles Unified School District’s decade of experience protecting transgender students from discrimination with zero safety issues. Pointing out that “there is not yet any anecdotal evidence that trans-friendly rules have been abused by predators” the article also noted that cisgender men have assaulted women in bathrooms for decades undeterred by “laws and rules requiring sex separation.” Time also addressed the right-wing myth that transgender people are “confused” by citing settled medical evidence that being transgender is not a matter of “choice,” and that there is no medical treatment to “reverse” being transgender.

    From the May 30 edition of Time:

    Yet the specter of a sexual predator abusing transgender-friendly laws continues to frame the debate. Conservatives in Houston successfully overturned a city equal-rights ordinance in 2015 with a ballot measure passed after television ads re-enacted a hypothetical scene in which a faceless man barges in on a schoolgirl in a bathroom stall. “No men in women’s bathrooms” was the simple and effective campaign slogan.

    [...]

    The FBI and local law enforcement do not keep consistent stats on the number of crimes committed in public restrooms, so there is no way to track every claim. “What we’re talking about is probably some sort of assault, maybe some sort of low-level kind of voyeurism,” says Jeffrey Ian Ross, a criminologist at the University of Baltimore. “That stuff goes underreported all the time.” But there is not yet any anecdotal evidence that trans-friendly rules have been abused by predators, or that incidents of violence or sexual assault have increased. For decades, men have sometimes been caught and prosecuted for entering women’s restrooms or dressing rooms, either in drag or dressed as men, to watch or film women. The laws and rules requiring sex separation did not prove a deterrent in those cases.

    The Los Angeles Unified School District, a community of 550,000 students, has allowed transgender students to use the bathrooms they identify with since 2005. “I have never had misconduct by a transgender student. A lot of fears people expressed, we have never realized those, we have never seen them,” says Judy Chiasson, who runs the district’s office of human relations, diversity and equity. “We’ve been doing this for 11 years. It works.”

    The burden for transgender people when it comes to bathrooms is less disputed. A 2016 analysis of a survey of more than 2,000 transgender college students found the rate of suicide attempts increased 40% among those who said they had been denied access to a bathroom. In a separate survey of 100 transgender people in Washington, D.C., 70% said they had been denied restroom access or harassed, and 58% said they had avoided going out in public because they feared being able to find a bathroom. “At some point they had just decided it wasn’t worth it to go out in public and have to deal with the bathroom situation,” says Jody Herman, a scholar at UCLA’s Williams Institute, who authored the study.

    [...]

    Underlying the battle over toilets is a complicated discussion about what it means to be transgender and why it happens. As a matter of science, the issue is largely settled. The transgender experience is not—-as Texas’ Patrick joked–a matter of choice. No transgender American stands before the W on the restroom door and thinks, Whatever.

    “What we have to accept is that the duality–male or female, which we see as a very clear dichotomy–it’s a little bit more complicated,” explains Catherine Dulac, a Harvard professor of biology. The official diagnosis is gender dysphoria, and it is recognized by the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and major medical institutions. As with same-sex attraction, there is no treatment to reverse it, and many of the negative effects arrive not from the personal experience but from the social reactions to it.

    For many in this debate, however, these facts are hogwash, peddled by liberal academics with different value systems. “Children have vivid imaginations. This is nothing but an adult agenda being pushed on the backs of innocent children,” says Nancy Stacy, a school-board member in Marion County, Fla., of the transgender experience in school. She recently voted to deny access to a transgender student who wanted to use the boys’ bathroom. For her, the act of changing bathroom rules to match the preference of a student is just the start of a slippery slope. “That would be like me saying, ‘Oh, a child believes she’s Cinderella today, so we’re going to have a horse and carriage on the playground.'”

  • Buzzfeed Highlights Anti-Transgender Hoax Stories Spilling Over To Conservative News

    Transgender Advocate: Hoax Stories “Encourage Vigilantes To Come Out Of The Woodwork And Hunt Trans People"

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Buzzfeed highlighted the recent slew of anti-transgender hoax stories -- published on on fake news websites -- going viral and spreading to right-wing outlets.

    In a May 19 post, Buzzfeed founding editor Craig Silverman spotlighted the recent surge in anti-transgender hoaxes on fake news websites. These fake news stories -- at least one of which has spread to real conservative news websites -- spiked largely in response to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law (HB 2) that broadly bans transgender people from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity in publicly run facilities and schools. Many of the fake stories Buzzfeed profiled -- like the hoax about a transgender women getting caught taking pictures of underage girls at Target -- stem from the anti-LGBT “bathroom predator” myth that sexual predators will exploit nondiscrimination laws to sneak into women’s restrooms by pretending to be transgender. Anti-LGBT extremists have long peddled the myth in conservative and mainstream media to oppose basic nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people. 

    Buzzfeed interviewed the owner of several fake news sites and found that the hoax stories are a way to make “easy money” by capitalizing off of “the political polarization and anti-LGBT stance at the heart of HB 2.” Buzzfeed also spoke with Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, who voiced her concern that these hoaxes -- one of which ended with a vigilante shooting a transgender women -- will fuel anti-transgender violence. There have been several recent instances of anti-transgender harassment in bathrooms.

    From the May 19 Buzzfeed post:

    On Saturday, a report began spreading online that a transgender woman was shot and killed after she followed another woman into a Colorado department store bathroom.

    [...]

    It’s one of several trans-themed hoaxes that have spread widely on Facebook in recent weeks. BuzzFeed News looked at the most shared articles from over 40 fake news websites and found other recent viral hits, including the fake story of a trans woman getting caught taking pictures of underage girls at a Target, a satirical article headlined “Transgender Dog Unsure Which Tree To Pee On,” and one that reported “Ann Coulter Arrested For Using Women’s Bathroom.” A false claim that Caitlyn Jenner is going to de-transition has also been circulating for weeks.

    The spike in anti-trans hoaxes began after North Carolina passed a law, House Bill 2, that repealed LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances and that banned transgender people from restrooms in government-run buildings. It resulted in national coverage that caught the attention of the burgeoning fake news industry.

    [...]

    “As you have likely noticed, the bathroom issue has really hit a nerve with evangelicals and Conservatives making it a ripe topic for ridicule,” said Allen Montgomery, the pseudonym used by a man who runs NationalReport.net and other fake news sites. “These topics that highlight their (perceived) persecution complex are good business for those in the hoax and/or satire industry.”

    He said he’s only published three or four stories pegged on the bathroom issue, but that others are going after what he calls the “easy money” of HB 2 hoaxes.

    The result is that fake news sites are churning out new trans-themed stories on an almost-daily basis to capitalize on the political polarization and anti-LGBT stance at the heart of HB 2.

    [...]

    Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said she’s noticed a spike in anti-trans rumours and hoaxes since the law was passed.

    “Trans people all over the U.S. are really really on edge right now, and every time one of [these hoaxes] comes out lots of trans people hear them and react to them,” she said.

    Keisling is concerned that hoaxes about trans people harassing other people in bathrooms will “encourage vigilantes to come out of the woodwork and hunt trans people.”