Fox News anchor Shannon Bream, who the network touts as part of its purported “straight news” team, repeatedly misgendered a trans woman in an interview with Kristen Waggoner, an attorney for extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom. The interview was regarding a case which ADF will argue in front of the Supreme Court on behalf of a Michigan funeral home that fired an employee for coming out as transgender.
Since June 2018, Bream has now aired five different segments featuring ADF’s clients and lawyers promoting the group’s different cases against nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community. Bream’s most recent segment featuring an ADF attorney was as recent as April 16, in which she discussed a new ADF case in Ohio. She has also promoted ADF cases seeking to rollback LGBTQ rights in Arizona, Minnesota, and Washington state.
During the April 24 interview, Bream and Waggoner discussed ADF’s case R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which the Supreme Court announced on April 22 that it would take up. The case concerns a Michigan funeral home’s decision to fire its employee Aimee Stephens after she came out as transgender and announced that she would start wearing women’s clothes to work. As NPR explained, the case’s primary debate focuses on “‘whether Title VII prohibits discrimination against transgender people based on (1) their status as transgender or (2) sex stereotyping’ under the 1989 decision in the Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins case.”
Throughout the Fox segment, Bream misgendered Stephens, referring to her as both “he” and “him.” Misgendering is the practice of referring to someone “as a gender other than one that a person identifies with,” and by doing so, Bream unduly stigmatized Stephens’ identity and went against journalistic standards, AP style, and The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage.
In addition to her dehumanizing language about trans people, Bream’s coziness with ADF mirrors that of Fox’s right-wing opinion hosts such as Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and the hosts of Fox & Friends. ADF lawyers have misgendered trans people on other Fox programs, and Fox “straight news" reporter Greg Palkot deadnamed Chelsea Manning earlier this month. (Deadnaming is referring to a transgender person using their “birth name” or “given name” rather than their affirming name.) Fox’s opinion programming has become increasingly toxic for advertisers, though Fox has tried to draw a false distinction between it and its “news” programming.
From the April 24 edition of Fox News’ Fox News @ Night With Shannon Bream:
SHANNON BREAM (HOST): Kristen, I know that ADF, your group, is involved specifically with at least one of these cases that has to do with a funeral home that had an employee they had hired in 2007, I believe. He came to them in 2013 and said that he wanted to begin dressing as a woman in the workplace. They told him no. This is already gone through the process. It’s going to end up at the Supreme Court. Now, what’s your argument against that, Kristen?
KRISTEN WAGGONER (ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM): What’s my argument against? I'm sorry. I missed the question, Shannon, there.
BREAM: Yeah, no. Just how this all played out with the funeral home and them telling him that he could not dress the way that he then identified. Why should they be allowed to tell him or to set that policy?
WAGGONER: Well, because federal courts can't redefine what the law is according to their own policy preference. Sex discrimination in federal employment law is based on the biological realities of male and female. It always has, and that’s how the courts have interpreted it. Redefining sex has grave consequences, and it's really not the job of a federal court to do that. That’s the job of a legislature or the Congress.
WAGGONER: I think that the reason it may be an issue in the election is the staggering negative consequences of imposing a radical gender identity ideology on the American public. If we look at those consequences, we’re already seeing those cases played out. It undermines bodily privacy rights, particularly for women and children. We have battered women's shelters who are being forced to admit men to sleep within a few feet of sex-trafficked women. It undermines conscience rights of doctors who are being forced to violate their conscience and perform surgeries on healthy people.
WAGGONER: There are so many different ways that it undermines the rights of women and children.