Fox News’ Laura Ingraham misgendered trans students and called their participation in gender-segregated sports “insanity” in an interview with an attorney for extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) about its complaint against trans student athletes.
The October 15 segment was the latest example of Fox News giving ADF a platform to discuss its anti-LGBTQ cases and policy positions. A Media Matters analysis found that so far in 2019, ADF clients and lawyers have been on Fox at least 12 times. It has not appeared on CNN or MSNBC in that time. Moreover, ADF appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox show to announce this same complaint in June.
On August 7, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) agreed to investigate ADF’s complaint against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference’s nondiscrimination policy, which allows trans students in the state to compete in sports as the gender with which they identify. According to the Washington Blade, “The complaint argues the trans-inclusive policy violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex in public schools.”
While OCR routinely “evaluates, investigates, and resolves complaints alleging sex discrimination” to enforce Title IX, the decision to take up this complaint is particularly troubling because ADF has allies throughout the federal government, including within the Department of Education. In fact, the group’s former director of litigation projects, Thomas Stack, now works as a senior attorney at OCR, which received ADF’s complaint.
During the segment, Ingraham and ADF lawyer Christiana Holcomb misgendered transgender girls as “males,” “boys who identify as girls,” and “biological males,” which is a form of harassment that goes against journalistic standards. Additionally, ADF client Cheryl Radachowsky, the mother of a student athlete who ADF is representing in the complaint, said trans-inclusive competition “destroys [girls’] athletic opportunities.” Radachowsky pushed the same claim in an anti-trans op-ed in the New York Post just two days before appearing on Ingraham’s show. Ingraham also called ADF “a fantastic organization.”
This is not the first time Ingraham has attacked trans athletes. In a February segment, she hosted anti-trans advocate Meg Kilgannon, who is a leader of a coalition of anti-trans groups that includes several transgender-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) groups. (TERFs claim to be feminists, but they hold vehemently anti-trans views and are widely rejected by intersectional feminists and LGBTQ advocates.) TERFs and the religious right have employed similar language about trans rights threatening women's rights, and Ingraham's long history of making anti-LGBTQ comments makes her show a perfect place for groups like ADF to push those narratives.