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Judd Apatow, Gabrielle Union, Tommy Dorfman and Wilson Cruz are among the members and allies of Hollywood’s LGBTQ community calling on The New York Times to stop reporting “bias, fringe theories and dangerous inaccuracies” in its coverage of transgender people.
The letter, which was delivered to the paper on Wednesday, includes more than 100 individual and organizational signatories declaring a need for significant changes to how the Times reports on the trans community. Other entertainment signatories include Hannah Gadsby, Jameela Jamil, Jazz Jennings, Jen Richards, Joey Soloway, Johnny Sibilly, Jonathan Van Ness, Lena Dunham, Margaret Cho, Peppermint and Zackary Drucker.
Those names appear alongside prominent LGBTQ journalists and New York Times contributors such as Roxane Gay as well as LGBTQ organizations like GLAAD, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign, National Black Justice Coalition, Women’s March, National LGBTQ Task Force, PFLAG National, the Transgender Law Center and Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.
“The Times has repeatedly platformed cisgender (non-transgender) people spreading inaccurate and harmful misinformation about transgender people and issues,” the letter reads. “This is damaging to the paper’s credibility. And it is damaging to all LGBTQ people, especially our youth, who say debates about trans equality negatively impact their mental health, which is a contributing factor to the high suicide rates for LGBTQ youth.”
Following the letter’s delivery, a spokesperson for the Times told The Hollywood Reporter that the publication welcomes the signatories’ feedback but recognizes that “GLAAD’s advocacy mission and The Times’s journalistic mission are different.”
“The very news stories criticized by GLAAD in their letter reported deeply and empathetically on issues of care and well-being for trans teens and adults,” said Charlie Stadtlander, the Times’ director of external communications for the newsroom. “Our journalism strives to explore, interrogate and reflect the experiences, ideas and debates in society — to help readers understand them. Our reporting did exactly that and we’re proud of it.”
In the letter, the coalition notes three demands for how the paper changes its coverage of transgender people in the coming months. Among them is the call to end the paper’s “questioning of trans people’s right to exist,” according to signatories, and their access to evidence-based medical care, which GLAAD notes is “settled” science.
The two other demands support a meeting with transgender community members and leaders within two months and the hiring of at least two trans people for the opinion section and two people on the news side within three months.
The letter points to the recent hire of David French, a conservative attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, as a columnist. GLAAD notes that the ADF has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “an anti-LGBTQ hate group that actively spreads misinformation about LGBTQ people and pushes baseless legislation and lawsuits to legalize discrimination.”
The public letter comes after several attempts, GLAAD says, at working with the Times team on its coverage of trans people and the community, efforts that spanned emails, calls, offering sources and a sit-down allegedly after four months of trying to get the meeting.
The letter states that some Times reporting has been cited directly by anti-trans legislators in states like Texas and Nebraska to criminalize access to necessary health care for trans youth, targeting both doctors and parents with criminal penalties.
“It is clear that our behind-the-scenes outreach has had zero impact,” the letter reads. “We see media outlets like Time, Vox, USA Today, and even Jon Stewart, John Oliver, and smaller local outlets, doing a much better job covering the trans community than the New York Times. We are not having this conversation with other mainstream media outlets about problematic coverage — only the Times.”
Feb. 15, 1 p.m. Updated with statement from The New York Times.
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