Fox News has aired 170 segments featuring discussions about transgender people in the past three weeks, with Fox anchors, hosts, and guests incessantly fearmongering about trans people and spreading dangerous misinformation, including the lie that most trans kids “have been led to where they are by adult predators.”
From March 17 through April 6, Fox News obsessively covered the following news stories about trans people or legislation seeking to restrict the rights of the trans community:
- On March 17, University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas won an NCAA championship in the 500-yard freestyle, becoming the first openly trans athlete to win an NCAA Division I championship.
- On March 20, Twitter locked The Babylon Bee out of its account for posting a tweet that misgendered Adm. Rachel Levine. Levine is the highest-ranking openly transgender official in the U.S. government and the country’s first woman four-star officer, serving as an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
- On March 22, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) asked Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to “provide a definition for the word woman” during her Supreme Court nomination hearing.
- On March 28, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would ban discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, though its vague wording could be used to prevent such discussions -- however broadly defined -- at any grade level. On that same day, Disney voiced opposition to the law, saying in a statement that its “goal as a company” is for the law to be repealed or struck down in courts.
Throughout Fox’s coverage of these events, the network spread dangerous lies about the trans community and repeatedly invoked the long-debunked myth that trans people pose a threat to minors and seek to groom them.
Fox News has aired 170 segments discussing trans issues since March 17
Key findings from the 170 segments featuring discussion on trans issues include:
- Fox’s so-called “news”-side programs aired 46 segments that discussed trans issues, accounting for over one-fourth of the total segments. The remaining 124 segments came from its opinion programs.
- Fox & Friends, its weekend edition, as well as Fox & Friends First, the network’s weekday early morning show, together aired the most segments (58) discussing trans issues. The Ingraham Angle aired the second-most segments (17), followed by America's Newsroom With Bill Hemmer & Dana Perino (14), and Tucker Carlson Tonight (13).
- Fox aired 87 segments discussing Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law and Disney’s opposition to the legislation. Fox host Laura Ingraham dubbed a segment about it “Doom & Groom” and claimed students are being “bombarded by efforts to undo any semblance of traditional values.” She also outlandishly claimed that Disney is “grooming” children. Fox host Tucker Carlson accused Disney of acting like “a sex offender” and suggested the company supports “chemical catration” of children.
- Notably, the network’s “news”-side anchors attacked Disney for opposing Florida’s anti-LGBTQ legislation. America’s Newsroom co-anchor Bill Hemmer asserted that there was “leaked video now of Disney execs unveil efforts to push the company's woke agenda.” Fox anchor Harris Faulkner claimed that Disney has “pushed a woke leftist gender agenda at home.” Additionally, a graphic displayed during the show America's Newsroom read “Exposed Disney Agenda.”
- There were 45 segments that discussed Thomas’ swim career. Fox hosts, correspondents, and guests deadnamed and repeatedly misgendered Thomas. (Deadnaming and misgendering are forms of harassment that involve using a trans person’s prior name against their wishes or referring to them as the incorrect gender; misidentifying trans people goes against best-practice journalistic standards.)
- Fox discussed Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s question to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson asking her to define “what a woman is” 23 times. On March 23, Carlson attacked Jackson’s response to the question and asserted that she is “clearly a sub genius and probably shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court.” Later in that same segment, his guest podcast host Jason Whitlock asserted that Jackson could not answer the question because “the goal is to create chaos and disorder by dismantling the truth.”
- There were also 6 segments that discussed Levine. On March 21, Carlson dedicated an entire segment to intentionally misgendering Levine, going so far as to claim that the idea of respecting a trans person’s gender identity is “fringe, and dangerous, and crazy, and the historians will be shocked” by it. On March 24, Babylon Bee Managing Editor Joel Berry appeared on The Ingraham Angle and said “we harbor no hatred toward people like Rachel Levine” after asserting the “trans movement” is a “cultic, religious movement.”
Anti-trans hatred is a central feature of Fox News’ right-wing disinformation apparatus
Fox’s reporting on trans people in the past three weeks is part of its long history of targeting the trans community with dehumanizing attacks. The network’s vile anti-trans rhetoric demonstrates just how low it will go to demonize trans people for political gain.
Fox hosts have framed anti-trans attacks as a wedge issue Republicans can leverage ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. On March 29, Faulkner concluded a segment about Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill saying, “Underestimate the parents and pay for at the polls.” Just this year alone, state lawmakers have proposed over 230 anti-trans bills, a record number.
Fox’s bigoted rhetoric coincides with unprecedented attacks on the safety and wellbeing of the trans community, with rates of anti-trans violence at alarmingly high rates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released data showing that one in four LGBTQ youth seriously considered ending their own lives in the first half of 2021.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database and the Nexis database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for any of the terms “trans,” “transgender,” “biological,” “gedner affirming,” “gender affirmation,” “gender bender,” “gender reassignment,” “puberty blocking,” “define woman,” “define women,” “Blackburn,” “Rachel Levine,” “Lia Thomas,” “Leah Thomas,” or “Disney” from March 17 through April 6, 2022.
We included segments, which we defined as instances when the trans people or issues affecting the trans community were the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of either topic. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed trans issues with one another. We did not include mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker mentioned the topic without another speaker engaging with the comment, or teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about trans issues scheduled to air later in the broadcast.
We split Fox programs into “news” and “opinion” sides. We defined “news” programs as those with anchors, such as Bret Baier or Shannon Bream, while we defined “opinion” programs as those with hosts, such as Tucker Carlson or Laura Ingraham, at the helm. We used the designations from each anchor or host’s author page on FoxNews.com. We also considered the format of the program; we defined those using a panel format, such as Outnumbered and The Five, as opinion programs.