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According to a Gallup poll released earlier this year, the percentage of American adults self-identifying as something other than heterosexual has increased to 7.1 percent, double the percentage from 2012, when Gallup first measured this statistic. Almost 21 percent of Generation Z (young adults born between 1997 and 2003) identify as LGBT. When compared to the baby boomer generation, the percentage of Americans identifying as transgender has risen twentyfold, as Ross Douthat recently observed in The New York Times.
Plenty of outlets reported on this remarkable development. The tenor of corporate media commentary has been widely celebratory — surely this must mean that people finally feel comfortable truly inhabiting their own skin. What we are witnessing, they say, is the flowering of trans life. Yet is it really that simple?
Media Makes the Shift
In truth, the media have been aggressively fueling the trans craze for years. When Laverne Cox became the first transgender person to appear on the cover of Time magazine, it attracted extensive national media coverage. Indeed, Cox was also the first transgender person to appear on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine. And Glamour named Cox “Woman of the Year.”
When Bruce Jenner the following year announced on “20/20” his new trans image under the name Caitlyn, the interview received 20.7 million viewers, which made it television’s “highest-ever rated newsmagazine telecast among adults 18–49 and adults 25–54. Jenner appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, won the Social Media Queen award at the Teen Choice Awards, and was named one of Glamour’s 25 Women of the Year, the magazine calling her a “Trans Champion.”
In short order, the entire journalist profession pushed trans ideology. In March 2017, the AP changed its stylebook, embracing “they” as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun. The Washington Post began running regular public interest pro-trans stories, often on the front page.
Since 2014, the WaPo alone has run approximately 1,160 articles and opinions on transgenderism. It has run only 597 articles or opinions on Native Americans during that same time period. Over that same time period, The New York Times’ numbers are even higher, at almost 8,000 unreservedly positive news stories and opinion pieces on transgenderism.
The Silencing of Alternative Views
Coupled with this media fervor was a silencing of alternative views. When a 2018 study was published by a then-assistant professor of the practice at the Brown University School of Public Health indicating that social factors might be one causal factor in the dramatic increase in gender dysphoria among our nation’s youth, academics, medical professionals, and journalists quickly attacked the research.
Slate labeled it “poorly designed” and “marred by errors and omissions.” Due to such pressure, Brown sought to distance itself from the study and publicized that corrections and revisions were made to downplay the role of social factors in the rise of gender dysphoria. The study’s findings are now widely criticized as “harmful” to LGBT persons.
The same thing happened when University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus dared to publish research demonstrating that across a multitude of factors, children of gay parents fared worse than children raised by married opposite-sex parents. Academics published articles repudiating Regnerus’s research, and prominent outlets like the Washington Post noted that Regnerus “has been the subject of intense criticism from mainstream researchers.” UT Austin launched “an inquiry to determine whether a formal investigation is needed,” although the university ultimately found no plausible grounds for an investigation and closed the inquiry.
Most recently, and perhaps most famously, Abigail Shrier’s book “Irreversible Damage” about the negative effects of gender dysphoria on prepubescent and adolescent girls was pilloried by leftist media, and removed by booksellers for its “dangerous” content. Before her, scholar Ryan T. Anderson’s “When Harry Became Sally” was delisted from Amazon.
In other words, any scientific data that undermines the narrative of an increasingly tolerant society that has enabled the sexual and gender liberation of an entire generation will be summarily denounced as erroneous and bigoted. Few sociologists or psychologists today would dare to conduct research that might suggest otherwise. Presumably, any data that doesn’t fit the faux consensus is simply ignored by researchers, if not permanently deleted.
Narrow, Permitted Concern About the Transdemic
Corporate media have recently permitted only a select group of persons to express heavily caveated concerns about this massive social shift. In April, The Washington Post featured an op-ed by trans person Corinna Cohn, who was given the freedom to explain that the destruction of his gonads “introduced a different type of bondage,” and that since his surgery, he has become a “medical patient and will remain one for the rest of my life.” The WaPo even gave him permission to bemoan the distorting influences of social media on teenagers and “how readily authority figures facilitate transition.”
The Los Angeles Times recently interviewed Erica Anderson, a trans person and former clinical psychologist at the University of California San Francisco’s Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic, “who has helped hundreds of teenagers transition.” Anderson expressed concern with the recent spike in gender dysphoria among American youth, saying “I think it’s gone too far.”
Separately, in 2018, Anderson told the WaPo of fears that many kids were experimenting with different gender identities because it was “trendy” and often motivated by peer pressure. “To flatly say there couldn’t be any social influence in formation of gender identity flies in the face of reality. Teenagers influence each other,” Anderson declared.
Blaming the Youth Trans Craze
Missing so far in the media’s patently biased and circumscribed willingness to acknowledge that perhaps this is more than just the utopian realization of the sexual revolution is an admission of their complicity in facilitating this reality. For more than a decade corporate media endlessly and unequivocally advocated this narrative — publishing heaps of human interest stories and sympathetic op-eds on the plight of transgender youth.
This includes coverage of trans student Gavin Grimm, whose battle with a local school board over its bathroom policy went all the way to the Supreme Court, and Lia Thomas, the trans swimmer who earlier this year won a Division I NCAA women’s national swimming title. After Thomas won, NBC was caught editing photos of Thomas in their coverage to make the swimmer look less masculine.
The message from leftist corporate media has been suffocatingly consistent: “Encourage and support your child in their exploration of their gender identity.” Never has it been: “Perhaps this isn’t a good idea” or “take it slow” or “maybe she’s just a tomboy.”
No, the media steamrolled over dissenters and irresponsibly urged parents and educators to accept and even promote this mental health pandemic. It labeled as bigots and transphobes any who resisted and permitted only one narrative to be disseminated: absolute, uncontested celebration of heightened incidence rates of transgenderism among American youth.
Social Pressure Works
And my, has that messaging campaign been successful. There are now “300 clinics that prescribe puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children in North America.” Only six years ago, in 2016 there were fewer than 50, and less than a decade ago in 2013 there were only a handful. In 2007, there were only two pediatric gender clinics in the entire United States — one in New York and one in Washington, D.C. Today there are dozens across the nation.
The sex reassignment surgery industry has experienced remarkable growth, and is slated to witness still more over the next five years. Big pharma is making quite a bit of money from the trans boom. The transgender industrial complex is a growth market!
Yet one finds few, if any, stories in corporate media examining this unhealthy alliance between gender ideology activists and woke capitalism. Might this have something to do with the fact that many journalists are complicit in promoting trans activism among our nation’s youth?
As media outlets return to this story, they should take a good, hard look in the mirror. For it is them, not conservative politicians trying to curb the influence of this crisis, who should be censured for harming American youth. Moreover, as many of these gender-dysphoric youth mature over the next few decades into physically, emotionally, and psychologically damaged and broken adults wondering what happened to them, they should cast a suspicious eye on the journalists and media outlets who helped engineer this public catastrophe.
Casey Chalk is a senior contributor at The Federalist and an editor and columnist at The New Oxford Review. He has a bachelor’s in history and master’s in teaching from the University of Virginia and a master’s in theology from Christendom College. He is the author of The Persecuted: True Stories of Courageous Christians Living Their Faith in Muslim Lands.