Watch A Transgender Student Athlete's Emotional Response To Right-Wing Misinformation
Blog ››› ››› CARLOS MAZA
On MSNBC, a transgender student described the pain caused by right-wing misinformation about a policy that could allow athletes to participate on the team that corresponds with their gender identity.
During the October 2 edition of MSNBC's NewsNation with Tamron Hall, guest host Richard Lui led a segment on the Minnesota State High School League's consideration of a proposed participation policy for transgender student athletes. The proposal, which has since been temporarily tabled, would potentially allow student athletes to play on the sports team that matches their gender identity.
The segment featured OutFront Minnesota Executive Director Monica Meyer and Zeam Porter, a transgender student athlete who delivered an emotional speech during a public hearing about the proposal. When asked about the hearing, Porter described the difficulty of being exposed to misinformation about transgender students, including a misleading, transphobic ad published in Minnesota's Star Tribune:
PORTER: It was really hard to be in that space. I took away that there are a lot of people who purposely give misinformation and don't value me as a human, much less as a student or as an athlete... Being in that space yesterday was really hard.
PORTER: Other trans students have come to me and said that "I feel scared to pick up a newspaper now because I'm scared of seeing harassment. I'm scared of seeing discrimination. It's like I can't escape it, not on the court, not in the classroom, not even reading a newspaper I can't escape this discrimination. I can't escape misinformation and lies told about me." So it was really hard to hear that from other students because I'm not the only one going through this.
MSNBC's handling of the segment is a refreshing outlier in the way major media outlets tend to cover debates over transgender equality, especially when discussing an issue like access to locker rooms and restrooms. Media coverage of these issues very rarely features the voices of actual transgender people, much less transgender youth that are directly affected by the policies being discussed. Instead, media outlets often highlight the voices of extremists who rely on misinformation and outright fabrications in order to provide "balance" in debates about transgender people.
Rather than giving opponents a platform to fear monger about trans-inclusive restrooms, MSNBC allowed a transgender student directly impacted by the proposed policy to talk about the damage that this kind of misinformation does to real people. It's the kind of segment that could go a long way in making students like Porter less afraid to find out what media outlets are saying about them.