Across several pieces of online content and podcasts, The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro, Matt Walsh, and Michael Knowles attacked and misgendered two trans teenagers at the center of a lawsuit from extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom’s (ADF) that seeks to prevent them from competing in girls’ sports. The lawsuit alleges that a Connecticut policy allowing trans athletes to compete in sports that align with their gender identity violates federal sex discrimination protections under Title IX.
Since May 11, the reliably anti-trans outlet and pundits have posted four podcast segments that received over 215,000 views on YouTube and two articles that earned a combined 158,000 interactions on Facebook. The pundits repeatedly misgendered the teen athletes and fearmongered about trans-inclusive sports, with Knowles claiming that recognizing transgender people is part of an agenda to end “objective reality.”
Their coverage was in reaction to a request by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny that lawyers from ADF maintain “respectful, humane, intelligent, civil discourse” by not misgendering the athletes, asking them to refer to the athletes as “transgender females” rather than “ male athletes.” In response, ADF’s lawyers demanded Chatigny disqualify himself from the case, claiming he had “destroyed the appearance of impartiality in this proceeding.”
Daily Wire pundits called the teenage athletes “penis wielding XYs” and claimed trans-inclusive sports are part of an agenda to destroy “objective reality”
After National Review first reported on the story on May 11, Daily Wire published two articles, one written by Walsh and the other by Amanda Prestigiacomo, that repeatedly misgendered the athletes, referring to them as “male” or “biologically male.”
During the May 11 episode of Walsh’s Daily Wire podcast The Matt Walsh Show, he called trans girls “boys with XY chromosomes and penises” and claimed that “people are like Mr. Potato Head dolls now. You just take off the different parts, swap them out. Doesn't matter. It makes no difference.” He also claimed that the athletes are not females, “not by the science, not by common sense, and not by human decency.” The following day, Walsh doubled down on his remarks and called trans athletes “penis wielding XYs” and claimed, “They’re not girls, and they are certainly not female.”
On May 13, Knowles fearmongered about trans-inclusive sports on his Daily Wire podcast, claiming that if “the left can force you to believe that men are women and women are men, then there is no objective reality.” Knowles also said that accepting transgender peoples’ gender identity is how “science is abused, and appropriated, and monopolized, and perverted, and transformed to invert objective reality.”
The Daily Wire regularly spreads hateful, anti-trans content that earns significant engagement online
The Daily Wire and its hosts regularly spread misinformation about and demean the LGBTQ community, and they play an influential role in making anti-LGBTQ narratives go viral online. The outlet operates a network of at least 17 Facebook pages that almost exclusively promote Daily Wire content and often post the same content across pages simultaneously or near-simultaneously. As a Popular Information investigation has noted, “this kind of ‘inauthentic coordinated behavior’ violates Facebook's rules.”
The Daily Wire posted both of its articles on ADF’s attempt to remove the judge from the case across many Facebook pages in its shady network. Facebook has allowed the outlet to break its rules when spreading other anti-trans rhetoric online, including articles spreading dangerous misinformation about health care for trans youth.
Correction (5/18/20): The headline of this article originally omitted part of Alliance Defending Freedom’s name. It has been updated.