Thursday, April 04, 2024

Media Matters: 'Expose' on trans healthcare organization filled with misinformation but amplified by media who didn't fact-check its errors

Media Matters just published an article regarding what appears to be an attempt to undermine gender-affirming healthcare on a large scale:
 Networks owned by the largest local TV station owners in the U.S., and mainstream outlets including The Washington Post and Newsweek, recently amplified a deeply flawed report by anti-trans activists. The outlets also failed to fact-check its misinformation or provide context for the extremists behind it. The report was covered widely by anti-trans figures and outlets, and some Republican state legislators are already using the report to call for expanding restrictions on gender-affirming care. 

 On March 4, anti-woke blogger and former California gubernatorial candidate Michael Shellenberger announced the release of “The WPATH Files,” a collection of leaked forum posts from an internal message board for members of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. The group is the leading body providing clinical guidance for medical professionals on gender-affirming care, and a frequent target of anti-trans activists.

The report included a loose collection of out-of-context clinical observations paired with inaccurate and editorialized commentary. An independent review from medical news outlet STAT described claims made in the report as false and oversimplified.

Specifically, as discussed by journalist and researcher Erin Reed, the report cites research that comes either from biased sources or is well over a decade old, with newer research refuting the claims. The report makes verifiably false claims about gender-affirming care and the commonality of detransition. Leaked material is inaccurately characterized throughout the report, and at other times, the content was presented without context, allowing readers to misinterpret what was said in the chat logs. 

The report was the product of behind-the-scenes collaboration between Shellenberger and Genspect, an anti-trans activist group that promotes conversion therapy and bans on transition care for adults. The report’s analysis was written by Mia Hughes, who has an extensive history as an anti-trans writer and acted as a spokesperson for an organization that supports conversion therapy for trans youth.

The article goes on to show how this expose gained traction in the news media who failed to adequately check its veracity. Feel free to read and share it. It underscores how war on the trans community and gender-affirming healthcare seems to be more intricate and deeper than the past attacks against the gay community but just as dishonest and deceptive. And unfortunately, members of the media became unintended co-conspirators.

Image above courtesy of Erin Reed.