How to Detect and Debunk Anti-Trans Propaganda in the Media

There is no shortage of articles for me to debunk these days. I could write articles dissecting material produced attacking transgender people as a class for a living, and still only touch a small fraction of them.  At the same time, I see transgender people and parents of transgender people asking me all the time, “Have you seen this?” every time a new one pops up.

So today, instead of giving you a fish, I’m going to teach you how to fish. Here’s the things you should ask yourself, and answer every time you see one of these nasty articles come up. The answers will allow you to effectively debunk the articles, and do so in a comprehensive way.

1. Who wrote it?
Would anyone take an article on how to deal with racial issues written by David Duke seriously?  Or an article on American Jewish history written by Richard Spencer? Of course not, unless they were a raging bigot to begin with. Therefore, you look at who the authors of anti-transgender articles are.

When you find out that the author implies that transgender people were responsible for the rise of neo-Nazi riots, or that they generally agree with the statement that transgender people should be morally legislated out of existence, you can safely call them bigoted kooks who should not be taken seriously by anyone who isn’t also a raging bigot.

2. Who does the author hang out with?
Let’s apply the white-nationalist analogy again. Suppose someone claimed not to be a white nationalist. They just write books and articles that white nationalists love and quote all the time. They hang out on white nationalist internet forums, and generally support the statements made by white nationalists in the comments section. They also give away links to free electronic copies of their works on white nationalist websites. Almost all of their followers on Twitter are white nationalists and people who really hate black people. Would you really take their claims of not being a white nationalist seriously?

The same applies to the concern trolls who claim to support transgender people, but who are the darlings of those who want to “morally legislate us out of existence.” The white nationalist example above also describes a number of prominent people who seem to make a living off of attacking transgender people. If they walk like a bigot, talk like a bigot, and hang out with bigots, they’re probably bigots.

3. Where is it published?
Would you ever take an article published on Der Sturmer or Stormfront about Jewish conspiracies seriously (besides someone who’s obviously comfortable with their own anti-Semitism)? Obviously not — neither publication has ever had anything nice to say about Jews, and their bias isn’t hidden.

So why on Earth would you give any credence to an article about transgender people on The Federalist, The Daily CallerBreitbart, or any other far-right-wing site seriously either?  None of them has ever had a nice thing to say about transgender people, and have consistently treated us as a public health hazard that needs to be removed from the public consciousness.

4. Does it blatantly misuse (or cherry pick) real research?
One of the quickest ways to spot biased and unreliable articles about transgender people is when they misuse actual research. Most commonly this occurs when they cite a 2011 study by Dr. Cecillia Dhejne to argue that medical care for transgender people is ineffective, or that it makes them suicidal. The problem is, the research actually says no such thing, and Dhejne has gone on the record saying that attempts to use it to make these points are both wrong and unethical.

As such, articles which deliberately misrepresent (lie) about the findings of actual academic work to support anti-transgender positions aren’t just wrong, they are unethical from the get-go. I’ve met Dr. Dhejne, and she finds the use of her work to these ends disgusting.

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