Letters to the editor

Critics slam newspaper’s new ‘gender issues’ section: ‘A forum for hate’

A section of an Australian newspaper’s website devoted to the gender spectrum — sounds like a step in the right direction, yeah? Well, check out some of the headlines recently included in the rollup:

  • “Transgender project ‘out of balance’”
  • “PM canes transgender policy”
  • “They’re castrating children”
  • “‘Corrupting kids’ thinking’”

Understandably, the online section has sparked a firestorm of backlash since editor Bernard Lane announced it on August 8. “The Australian newspaper’s obsession with humiliating trans people is disgraceful,” Equality Australia said in a tweet. “The rights and existence of trans people is not up for debate.”

The organization explained that “conservative religious fringe groups are determined to divide Australia using misinformation and fear mongering about trans people.”

Related: Newspaper names ‘Trump Gays’ two of 2018’s Men of the Year

Joan A. Westenberg, a trans creative director who has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, also called out the News Corp-owned newspaper’s new section. “Bernard, when the trans teens that I talk to every day come to me and ask why people are angry at them, threaten them with homelessness and abuse them, this is the kind of content that instigates it,” she tweeted. “I’m too disappointed and sad about this to be angry. Because I’m tired.”

Nevertheless, she persisted. “I need you and your colleagues to understand how much it hurts people like us when this kind of thing happens,” Westenberg added. “And I need you to understand that if you don’t take ownership of a responsible public conversation, you implicitly take ownership of the negative repercussions. People are going to struggle because of editorial choices that, far from being in the public interest, are harmful and antisocial.”

Related: Newspaper faces huge backlash for publishing story about closeted bi soccer star’s male lover

We’ve included more Twitter reactions to the section below. Don your protective gear — serious burns ahead.