Continuing Fox News' long tradition of transphobia, a FoxNews.com article on transgender protections in a California school district relied on quotations from rabidly transphobic activists and repeatedly misidentified the gender of the student at the center of the story.
In a July 27 article, Fox News' Michael Roppolo examined a recent federal civil rights settlement with a suburban Los Angeles school district, where a transgender male student sought to use facilities that corresponded to his gender identity. Roppolo promoted the claim that the settlement shows how civil rights protections have gone too far:
The U.S. Department of Justice's latest cause - fighting for a transgendered California ninth-grader's right to use the boy's room at school - has conservative groups wondering just how far Washington will go in the name of civil rights.
Roppolo's story proceeded to quote no fewer than four anti-transgender activists and spokespersons. While he included one quotation from a school district official defending the settlement, Roppolo did not quote a single spokesperson from a transgender rights organization. The result was a story framed by hyperbolic and medically ignorant transphobic arguments.
Without mentioning that the organization has been deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Roppolo quoted Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, who blasted federal officials for examining the case as a matter of civil rights:
"Eric Holder needs to reread the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and find out that civil rights are based on an unchangeable, immutable characteristic," Thomasson said. "You cannot change your genes or your gender. You have chromosomes and they are either XX or XY. This is a girl who has been environmentally warped to believe she is a boy, and, instead of coddling this confused child, her parents should have gotten her into counseling with an expert on gender confusion."
Aside from being demeaning, Thomasson's remarks are ignorant of medical science. As Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers reported in 2000, gender identity is deeply rooted in biology, with male gender identity "directly related" to a fetus's exposure to male hormone patterns during pregnancy. Moreover, the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) removes gender identity disorder from its list of disorders, replacing it with gender dysphoria. Simply put, then, the male student in Arcadia is not a "warped" "girl."
But hate-group leader Thomasson wasn't the only one to misidentify the student's gender. Doppolo himself did so repeatedly:
According to a DOJ report, the student began her gender transition from female to male during fifth grade after being teased and socially ostracized at school and on a school camping trip. After spring vacation, she adopted a male name and began wearing masculine clothing and teachers and classmates were told to use masculine pronouns in reference to her. She also used a gender-neutral bathroom for the remainder of the school year, according to the report.
Besides Thomasson, Doppolo also quoted anti-LGBT attorney Bob Tyler and Andrea Lafferty, president of Traditional Values Coalition - another SPLC-designated hate group. Lafferty described transgender individuals as "psychologically unhealthy," while Tyler said the student in Arcadia "needs help." Steve Johnson, president of Arcadia Republicans, also weighed in, criticizing the settlement as "just a decision handed down by the Obama administration."
Transgender individuals face disproportionate levels of bullying, violence, and discrimination. Even as schools pursue policies aimed at combatting such problems, Fox News helps perpetuate them with its shamelessly transphobic coverage.