After a few years of better-than-it-was reporting around rainbow issues, Stuff (and the Southland Times) are back at it again today with poor, unethical, and irresponsible reporting about trans folks - quelle surprise.
Today they’ve published a piece - ‘anger over gender identity practice in swimming pool changing rooms’, if you want to go looking, though I won’t dignify it with a link - about a public council meeting about trans people using changing rooms at a council swimming pool.
Except, oh, their reporter reckons it’s “not so much about the trans community”, but rather about “concerns” people have about “male sexual predators and paedophiles”. Concerns that are genuinely held and aren’t all fed by the rapidly rising rates of disinformation about the trans community, right?
Maybe their reporter just wasn’t aware of the context that these concerns are being he- oh, wait, no, they reported on the Disinformation Project’s report themselves:
It is categorically irresponsible to be reporting so uncritically about ‘concerns’ of ‘male sexual predators’ in women’s changing rooms while claiming your article isn’t actually about trans women. Fact.
It’s irresponsible to be reporting so uncritically about these concerns without informing your readership of the context of disinformation that these concerns are being generated in.
Last month, Te Pou Toetoe Linwood Pools - my local - received a credible threat of violence from a local neo-Nazi, threatening to turn up to a trans-inclusive women’s swimming event (also very popular with Muslim women) to prevent trans people from entering. This person was fully prepared to go to jail for this.
It’s irresponsible to report so uncritically on people expressing this harmful narrative, fuelled by disinformation, when your reporting has a very real chance of contributing to the tangible risk of physical violence our community faces.
For Stuff and their editor to decide a) that a story like this is okay to publish and then b) to double down when a complaint is made that actually, it’s not about trans people at all, it’s just about this myth that totally coincidentally might cause physical harm to trans people so it’s actually okay to publish thank you for your feedback - is unethical. It’s irresponsible. And it’s dangerous.
If you’d like, you’re welcome to let their editors know how you feel, too - the Southland Times editor can be reached at email@example.com and you might want to cc their national deputy ed in, too: firstname.lastname@example.org