New York Times faces searing backlash for publishing ‘harmful’ anti-trans ‘propaganda’: ‘Do better’

The New York Times is facing fierce backlash after it published an article full of “anti-trans propaganda” under the guise of “concern-trolling”. 

The outlet published an article titled “The Battle Over Gender Therapy” Wednesday (15 June) in its New York Times Magazine which uncritically platformed gender-critical groups, vile rhetoric and anti-trans parents. The article claimed there was a “big debate among clinicians” on how they should “respond to the thousands of teenagers who are arriving at their doors” for gender-affirming treatments. 

It claimed that a December draft of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) standards of care (SOC8) on adolescents raised “tricky questions” about young people accessing gender-affirming care. 

These so-called questions included if trans teens coming out today were “different from the adults who transitioned in previous generations” or if some young people “struggling with serious mental-health issues” might be “trying to shed aspects of themselves they dislike” by transitioning. 

The article also claimed the “prevalence” of young people coming out has increased in recent years, and journalist Emily Bazelon said “some clinicians” told her the “average age when a young person first comes” to a gender clinic “tends to be around 14 or 15”. 

The New York Times Magazine article cast the ability to access gender-affirming care for minors as a simple decision despite the fact most clinics in the US have years-long wait lists, assessments can be lengthy and treatments can be costly. 

The December draft of WPATH SOC8, seen by Bazelon, recommended minors provide evidence of “several years” of identifying as their chosen gender before accessing medical treatment. 

It was then advised trans youth “undergo a comprehensive diagnostic assessment, for the purpose of understanding the psychological and social context of their gender identity and how it might intersect with other mental-health conditions”.

Several people online blasted the New York Times for publishing the “dangerous” anti-trans article and argued it cast “reactionary backlash as legitimate debate about transition care”.

Another atrocious exercise in concern-trolling. There is no evidence that large numbers of young people are transitioning without assessment. None.
This article consistently casts reactionary backlash as legitimate debate about transition care.

— Michael Hobbes (@RottenInDenmark) June 15, 2022

Ho boy.

I’m going to read the Emily Bazelon trans kids article several times today, but just a note that multiple orgs and people quoted in this article don’t just want to “be better” about trans-affirming care for kids.

They want to END it.

Thread to slowly emerge today.

— Heron Greenesmith, Esq. (@herong) June 15, 2022

The NYT just platformed a group made up of transphobic parents & conversion therapists who’ve written about how they have the same end goals as hardline trans eliminationists but moderate their views to try to break into the mainstream. This is dangerous & irresponsible.

— Ky Schevers (@reclaimingtrans) June 15, 2022

This anti-trans propaganda pushed by outlets like the New York Times are 100% responsible for the average cishet person feeling like they should just ignore how the fascists are trying to exterminate trans people.

— Ana Fox (@Ana___fox) June 15, 2022

I think what troubles me so deeply about this kind of reporting—in some ways more deeply than the more openly malicious stuff—is that it’s sanitizing wildly transphobic talking points in ways that are likely to trick well-meaning liberals like, say, my mother.

— Dr. Sunny Moraine PhD in awful things (@dynamicsymmetry) June 15, 2022

another new york times hysteric filled anti-trans article out today, and all the top comments are from self-professed liberals saying the minimum age for hormones should be at least 25. i don’t get where this profound cruelty suddenly is coming from. idk man i’m just scared

— kg (@AFABRocky) June 15, 2022

Yay more anti-trans nonsense from the New York Times disguised as “concern”

— Bottoms up and the devil laughs (@welcumbackotter) June 15, 2022

Questioning the wisdom behind WPATH giving an exclusive on their new youth transition guidelines to a cisgender reporter who has never covered trans issues before. That’s certainly a choice, I guess?

— Katelyn Burns (@transscribe) June 15, 2022

When eliminationists are praising your story, while the people directly affected are widely outraged by it, you’ve only just further opened the door for eliminationist policies.

— Alejandra Caraballo (@Esqueer_) June 16, 2022

There are a lot of other issues with Genspect, like being funded by extremely anti-trans voices, or its director comparing being transgender to being pedophilic.

In your article, they are presented as a “reasonable, concerned” organization.

— Erin Reed (@ErinInTheMorn) June 15, 2022

Roses are red

Violets are blue

The New York Times is consistently platforming anti-trans propaganda and I no longer trust anyone who uses it as a primary news source.

The BBC too

— Cassie Is Trying To Be Ok (@CassieCeleste) June 15, 2022

The article also uncritically platformed gender-critical group Genspect, and the New York Times Magazine’s article said the group has held “web-based seminars that are critical of social and medical transition”. 

Some parents, who are part of Genspect, told Bazelon that they believed the “rise in trans-identified teenagers was the result of a ‘gender cult’ – a mass craze”. Other parents said trans people shouldn’t be able to access gender-affirming treatments until they are 25, “when brain development is largely complete.” 

With the inclusion of such widely-reviled groups, people online questioned if The New York Times considered hiring a trans journalist when writing about trans issues or if the outlet believed “only a cis journalist can be ‘objective’”.

UGH. Has the New York Times magazine (or any Times desk) ever assigned a *trans journalist* to write about trans kids? Or can only a cis journalist be “objective”? And how many deeply worried pieces by cis journalists written for moral panicked cis readers can there be?

— Dr. Thrasher (@thrasherxy) June 15, 2022

It’s generous to assume that the inclusion of conversion therapy groups and transphobic talking points here is accidental, but if it is — why was a trans writer not assigned this piece? That person would have been able to spot them from 100 miles away.

— Jude “Pre-Order MAW – Out 8/2/22” Doyle (@byJudeDoyle) June 15, 2022

That @nytimes article on the “gender wars” is absolute shit. DO BETTER New York Times. Lift the voices of trans reporters and writers. Stop publishing bad science and pieces without thorough research. It’s HARMFUL.

— Tristan Taormino® (@TristanTaormino) June 15, 2022

There was a small speck of good news from the New York Times Magazine article. The final version of the WPATH SOC8 adolescent chapter dropped the requirement that trans youth must show years of identifying as trans in order to obtain gender-affirming healthcare. 

Instead, it reportedly will ask if a young person’s trans identity is “marked and sustained over time”, which is an improvement from the previous draft. 

PinkNews has contacted The New York Times for comment.


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