Criticism of New York Times trans coverage heightens as 10,000 readers sign open letter

The community challenged the newspaper to listen to trans leaders, stop printing misinformation, and hire trans writers and editors. 

Front of New York Times office building which has been criticised for it's biased trans coverage.
Image: Photo by Vlada Karpovich

Over 10,000 New York Times readers from all 50 US states have joined forces to call for the paper to address its coverage of trans issues. The publication has an established reputation for ethical journalism, but in the past year, it has given a platform to anti-LGBTQ+ voices promoting dangerous and inaccurate information about transgender experiences.

On February 15, two coordinated open letters accused the New York Times of publishing inaccurate and biased articles about the trans community.

One letter was written by contributors and initially included 180 signatures. It has since grown to include over 1,000 contributors.

It asserts that while some New York Times reporters cover trans issues fairly and accurately, “Their work is eclipsed…by what one journalist has calculated as over 15,000 words of front⁠-⁠page Times coverage debating the propriety of medical care for trans children published in the last eight months alone.”

The second letter is available on GLAAD’s website and includes signatures from over 100 advocacy groups, celebrities, and leaders in the community including Human Rights Campaign, Transgender Law Center, Women’s March, Lena Dunham, and Jameela Jamil.

It also invites readers to sign, and demands, “We won’t stand for the Times platforming lies, bias, fringe theories, and dangerous inaccuracies. We demand fair coverage, we demand that the Times platform trans voices as both sources and full-time writers and editors, and we demand a meeting between Times leadership and the transgender community.”

The open letter describes the previous coverage as “appalling” and references examples when the publication used the term ‘patient zero’ to describe a trans child seeking gender-affirming care, used sources without acknowledging their connection to anti-trans hate groups, and quoted people who say their positions were misrepresented.

The letter also makes specific demands for how the New York Times can address its history of biased content. Going forward, the community has challenged the newspaper to immediately stop printing misinformation about trans experiences, to hold a meeting with trans community leaders and listen to their perspectives, and to hire full-time trans writers and editors on staff.

On Friday, the letter reached over 10,000 signatures demanding that the outlet end its “irresponsible, biased coverage”. To commemorate the milestone, GLAAD coordinated a 9am airplane flyover across New York City with a banner reading, “10k NYT readers say: better trans stories!”


The NYT has responded by saying, “We received the letter from GLAAD and welcome their feedback. We understand how GLAAD sees our coverage. But at the same time, we recognise that GLAAD’s advocacy mission and the Times’s journalistic mission are different.”

On February 16, exactly one day after receiving the letters, the NYT published an opinion piece by an anti-LGBTQ+ cisgender columnist called, ‘In Defence of JK Rowling’.


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