Trans and Non-Binary issues in news and communication have retained prevalence in the years following DOMA’s removal. News organizations have struggled with matching identifiers for significant celebrities and fought to revise their more antiquated grammatical rules to respect interviewees and story subjects.
Conservative outlets have often challenged these guidelines, adhering to the nomenclature around birth sex rather than a social understanding of gender as a construction. However, they often find a diverse body of guests and interviewees to produce shows on difficult topics.
In Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson’s Episode, the original title and subscript read as:
Should Boys Be Allowed to Compete on the Girls’ Team? It is a Debate That Has the Federal Government Weighing In: The Transgender Divide
In the title, there is an immediate encounter with an unintended bias. “Should Boys Be Allowed,” is not concerned with the social or physical ramifications. Instead, it is an attempt at rhetorical erasure. Imagining the replacement of “boys” as “trans girls” or “transgendered girls” is what this title means. It attempts to convey a “clearer” message, but it leans into sex as the defining characteristic and anchors away from the concerns of those women.
At various points, even Full Measure has published unclean transcripts highlight these severe mistakes. The team focuses on the effect that young women feel, positing that as the center of the debate – an accurate assumption. It does not give adequate voice to both arguments in this debate.
In the only interview with the Transgender Youth Project organization representative, we see a defense of those young trans people who remain central to the conversation, but never an interrogation of how their life is affected by this issue.
There was enough time in the episode to present those people who seem to favor keeping trans women out of female sports, conversations with several cis-female advocates, and even a clip from a South Park episode. However, there were no conversations with trans activists, trans athletes, or even an alluded attempt to reach out to more than just the two athletes highlighted at the top of this story.
However, this exchange highlights just how implicit that bias could be.
Sharyl: If I am describing it correctly, a man, or someone who has always been considered a man, including maybe himself considering himself a man, could wake up one morning and technically say, “Today, I compete as a woman,” and do that, and then say the next day, “I compete as a man again.”
Orr: And I think that is a misconception of these policies because it’s not that – it is not that easy and nor does that happen. As is often the case with transgender people, they recognize their gender identity, usually for years prior to them coming out, because of various social pressures or other things that delay them from doing that. So this is not a situation where someone wakes up one morning and says, “Oh, I’m real woman, I am just going to go compete on a women’s sports.”
In this full-length episode, we had no mention of the potential mental health ramifications and only received “some say” as the representation for that group.
Such a heavy-handed approach qualifies as a sort of straw-man approach to discussing this tense topic. You have claimed that “leftist liberals” are even shifting sides, a literal joke made as an inclination to genuine commentary, and a penultimate “a girl won a race against a trans girl” conclusion.
Fixing this story means distributing time equally to these groups on the margins. Women who feel affected by this group deserve space and time to consider the ramifications and also be challenged. Trans women deserve that same treatment and representation in a story that cycles around them.
Other outlets have done a fantastic job of telling these storied. For one, NBC News reached out to national policy creators, activists, and stakeholders to tell a well-rounded story. Fox News, in a much shorter package, met these same high bars in a two-minute package. My question now is why, after numerous accusations were levied against her reporting, would Attkisson and her team not create an even-handed piece.