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Leading Trans Rights Lawyer Explains Why NYT’s ‘Fixation With Trans People’ Leads to ‘Shootings and Bomb Threats’

Transgender flags on the step to D.C.
Image via Ted Eytan/Flickr (CC BY-SA).

There’s plenty of far-right media calling for violence against trans people and other queer folks, but mainstream media also does its part in threatening the safety of marginalized communities. Recently, on Instagram, trans rights lawyer Chase Strangio highlighted a recent New York Times article to talk about how the rhetoric found in major news outlets fuels anti-trans violence.

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The New York Times article, based on an investigation the paper launched into transgender health care, claims to have found evidence that puberty blockers lead to a decrease in bone density. Puberty blockers are prescribed to children who are trans, or who think they may be trans, to put off the bodily changes of puberty while the kids and their families figure out a longer-term treatment plan.

“The NYTs and Reuters have launched ‘special investigations’ into trans care while we face an all-out assault,” Strangio says in his post. “The problem is not that we have too much care. The problem is not that there are ‘surging’ numbers of trans people. The problem these journalists and lawmakers have is that our capacity for self-determination and self-actualization threatens the state’s investment in control, power and bodily and family regulation.”

Like any potentially life-saving medical treatment, puberty blockers may have side effects, which is why they’re already being comprehensively studied by scientists and have been for many years (and have so far been deemed safe enough to be the long-standing institutional standard). But by using any potential side effects—while taking no steps to separate them from the heaps of anti-trans junk science out there—to frame gender-affirming care for trans kids as inherently risky and shady, these media outlets further marginalize trans people during a time when anti-trans bigotry and violence is at an alarming high. Are media outlets launching similar large-scale investigations into the potential side effects of gender-affirming care for cis people? Why is it only trans care that’s framed as dangerous?

Thanks to articles like these, parents of trans kids may choose to deny their children gender-affirming health care completely, rather than work with their doctors on comprehensive treatment plans. Right-wing lawmakers get more ammunition with which to ban trans healthcare completely. And, as Strangio points out in his post, trans people continue to be portrayed as somehow wrong or unnatural, which makes them targets for violence.

Meanwhile, according to the Trevor Project, an estimated 1.8 million LGBTQ youth in the U.S. considers suicide every year, with trans kids at especially high risk.

(featured image: Ted Eytan/Flickr (CC BY-SA))

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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href=""></a>

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