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TV news spent just 43 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2021

Last year marked the deadliest year of anti-trans violence on record, but coverage by corporate TV news networks dropped by 20%

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Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Alex Paterson | WASHINGTON – A new comprehensive analysis of national cable and corporate broadcast TV news coverage from Media Matters’ LGBTQ Program found that in 2021, networks failed to devote air time to the epidemic of anti-trans violence.

When they did cover the issue –  a paltry 43 minutes across 19 segments – the segments left much to be desired, further highlighting the need for better and more robust coverage.

At least 57 transgender or gender-nonconforming people were killed in the United States in 2021, making it the deadliest year on record for the community. The vast majority of these victims were Black or Latina trans women.

A Media Matters analysis of broadcast news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as cable news coverage on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC found that cable and corporate broadcast TV news networks failed to adequately report on anti-trans violence in 2021, discussing the topic in just 19 segments for a total of 43 minutes of coverage.

Despite a surge in brutality, broadcast and cable TV news spent just 43 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2021

Corporate TV news networks have clearly demonstrated that they have the capacity to cover anti-trans violence but continuously choose to ignore the subject. Each network has a responsibility to inform their viewers with accurate coverage and finally improve this woeful dearth of reporting.

“More than five months into 2022, we have already seen a push from state legislatures to attack trans lives, while right-wing media outlets – like Fox News – have launched hateful attacks against the trans community. The lack of substantive reporting from national TV news about this violent epidemic further highlights the need for these networks to report accurate information and provide quality coverage instead of letting right-wing media control the narrative around trans identities.”

For the second year in a row, the United States witnessed the deadliest year on record for transgender and gender nonconforming people, with at least 57 individuals killed in 2021. The vast majority of these victims were Black or Latina trans women. Despite this uptick, Media Matters’ latest study documented a 20% drop in the total amount of coverage of anti-trans violence from our 2020 report.

The study analyzed coverage of anti-trans violence for ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC between January 1 and December 31, 2021 and found that:

  • Cable news networks spent approximately 35 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2021, with the vast majority of coverage airing on MSNBC. MSNBC spent the most time reporting on the topic, with 29 minutes of coverage across 9 segments. This was more than four times as much coverage as CNN and Fox News combined. 
    • CNN covered anti-trans violence for 4 minutes across 3 segments, while Fox News covered it for 2 minutes across 2 segments. 
    • All three cable networks decreased their total amount of coverage from 2020 to 2021.
  • Morning and evening corporate broadcast TV news shows spent 9 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2021. CBS produced the longest reporting, with 5 minutes across two segments. ABC spent 2 minutes covering the topic in 1 segment and NBC covered it for 2 minutes across 2 segments. 
    • Both ABC and CBS decreased the total amount of coverage from 2020, while NBC stayed the same. 
  • There were some troubling trends in coverage: 
    • The majority of national TV news coverage of anti-trans violence did not include a trans person as a guest, with only 7 of the 19 segments featuring a trans or gender-nonconforming guest. 
    • Only 4 of the 19 segments even mentioned the name of a slain trans person. 
    • Nearly one-third of the reporting on anti-trans violence occurred during LGBTQ Pride Month in June, with these networks covering the topic for 13 minutes in that month. This is a decrease from 2020, when these networks aired 29 minutes total.

Reports from MSNBC accounted for more than two-thirds of this coverage; every other network covered the topic for 5 minutes or less each.

  • Top trends from a year of anti-trans violence coverage on broadcast and cable TV news
    • Cable and corporate broadcast TV news networks failed to adequately report on anti-trans violence in 2021. 
    • From 2020 to 2021, every network’s total amount of coverage of anti-trans violence either decreased or stayed the same, and the quality of this coverage varied drastically across networks. 
    • TV news coverage of anti-trans violence decreased from 54 minutes of coverage in 2020 to 43 minutes in 2021, despite the fact that incidents of violence increased. 
    • Deadly violence against trans people was discussed in only 19 segments; corporate broadcast networks covered the topic for just 9 minutes, while cable networks covered it for 35 minutes.
    • The majority of TV news coverage of anti-trans violence did not include a trans person as a guest, with only 7 of the 19 segments featuring a trans or gender-nonconforming guest. 
    • Only 4 of the 19 segments even mentioned the name of one slain trans person.
    • MSNBC produced the most reports on the topic, with 29 minutes of coverage combined across 9 segments, more coverage than all other networks combined. 
    • CNN covered the topic for 4 minutes across 3 segments, while Fox News covered it for 2 minutes across 2 segments. In comparison, Fox News aired 86 segments about trans people from January 20, the day President Joe Biden took office, through March 18 — primarily fearmongering about trans athletes and lying about best practice health care for trans youth.
    • On the corporate broadcast networks, ABC covered the topic for 2 minutes, CBS for 5 minutes, and NBC for 2 minutes.
    • Nearly one-third of the total coverage came during LGBTQ Pride Month in June, with cable and corporate broadcast TV news networks reporting on the topic for 13 minutes in that month.
  • At least 57 transgender or gender nonconforming people were killed in 2021 — the deadliest year on record
  • In 2021, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) identified at least 57 transgender or gender-nonconforming people who were brutally killed in the U.S., marking the deadliest year on record. The majority of victims were trans people of color; at least 36 of the victims were Black, 34 of whom were Black trans women, and 10 were Latino, including nine Latina trans women. Official records of anti-trans violence only go back to 2008 and likely represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to such crimes, as many of the crimes against trans people go unreported or are reported using the incorrect name.The 57 transgender or gender-nonconforming people who HRC reported were killed in 2021 were:
  • Tyianna Alexander, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, Jeffery “JJ” Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond Kyree Sanders, Rayanna Pardo, Jaida Peterson, Dominique Lucious, Remy Fennell, Tiara Banks, Natalia Smut, Iris Santos, Tiffany Thomas, Keri Washington, Jahaira DeAlto, Whispering Wind Bear Spirit, Sophie Vásquez, Danika “Danny” Henson, Serenity Hollis, Oliver “Ollie” Taylor, Thomas Hardin, Poe Black, EJ Boykin, Aidelen Evans, Taya Ashton, Shai Vanderpump, Tierramarie Lewis, Miss CoCo, Pooh Johnson, Disaya Monaee, Briana Hamilton, Kiér Laprí Kartier, Mel Groves, Royal Poetical Starz, Zoella “Zoey” Rose Martinez, Jo Acker, Jessi Hart, Rikkey Outumuro, Marquiisha Lawrence, Jenny De Leon, Angel Naira, Danyale Thompson, Cris Blehar, Nikai David, Ke’Yahonna Stone, Za’niyah Williams, Nikki Turietta, Rubi Dominguez, Keeva Scatter, Martina Caldera, and Gerri Judd.
  • In addition to lethal attacks, trans people faced alarming rates of violence in the past year: they were sexually assaulted while incarcerated, stabbedbeaten at workand relentlessly attacked in public. Trans people are disproportionately vulnerable to violence due to discriminatory social factors, such as heightened barriers to accessing health carestable housing, and jobs. A 2021 Williams Institute study found that “transgender people are over four times more likely than cisgender people to experience violent victimization.” In 2022,  at least 12 trans people have been killed in the U.S. so far. This coincides with right-wing media outlets – including Fox News – launching hateful attacks against the trans community, including specific calls for violence. On March 31, Fox’s Tucker Carlson even falsely claimed that trans people face relatively lower rates of violence, lying that in the U.S., “you are a lot better off being trans than being not.” Right-wing outlets have also incessantly lied that trans people are “grooming” children for sexual activity, and trans people in turn have faced real-world harassment and violence, including being publicly assaulted and called a “groomer.”
  • Cable news networks spent 35 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2021, with the vast majority of coverage airing on MSNBC
  • From January 1 to December 31, 2021, Media Matters reviewed news programming between 6 a.m. and midnight on cable channels CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. During that time frame, cable news networks spent a total of 35 minutes discussing anti-trans violence across 14 segments. MSNBC spent the most time reporting on the topic, with 29 minutes of coverage across 9 segments. This was more than four times as many minutes of coverage as CNN and Fox News combined. MSNBC’s Velshi produced three segments on anti-trans violence throughout 2021, the most of any cable or corporate broadcast news show. CNN covered anti-trans violence for 4 minutes across 3 segments, while Fox News covered it for 2 minutes across 2 segments. Fox News’ 2 segments on the topic were about L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón, who was allegedly blocked from pursuing “gang enhancement” charges against “an alleged MS-13 gang member” who was charged with assaulting a trans woman in Los Angeles.
  • Morning and evening broadcast TV news shows spent 9 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2021
  • From January 1 to December 31, 2021, morning and evening corporate broadcast TV news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC spent 9 minutes across 5 segments covering anti-trans violence. CBS produced the most reporting, with 5 minutes across two segments. ABC spent 2 minutes covering the topic in 1 segment and NBC covered it for 2 minutes across 2 segments. 
  • The quality of coverage of anti-trans violence varied across networks
  • Key moments and notable trends include
    • From 2020 to 2021, TV news coverage of anti-trans violence decreased from 54 minutes of coverage to 43 minutes. Every network except NBC decreased its total amount of coverage during this time period. NBC’s coverage stayed the same at 2 minutes.
    • The majority of TV news coverage of anti-trans violence did not include a trans person, with only 7 of the 19 segments featuring a trans or gender-nonconforming guest. CBS and NBC each aired 1 segment that included a trans guest, while ABC’s only segment on the topic did not. As for the cable networks, 4 of MSNBC’s segments included a trans guest while only 1 of CNN’s 3 segments did. Fox News did not include a trans guest while covering the topic.
    • Only 4 of the 19 segments — two from MSNBC and 1 each from CBS and CNN — actually said the name of a trans person who was killed in 2021. 
    • Additionally,  during a CBS Mornings segment on the topic, CBS reporter Jamie Yuccas deadnamed Nikki Kuhnhausen, a 17-year-old trans girl who was killed in Washington in 2019. Deadnaming is when someone calls a trans person by their former name – and it goes against journalistic best practices
    • Nearly one-third of the reporting on anti-trans violence occurred during LGBTQ Pride Month in June, with TV networks covering the topic for 13 minutes in that month. 
  • Violence facing the trans and gender nonconforming people deserves robust TV news coverage
  • It is paramount that broadcast and cable networks produce accurate coverage about the record levels of anti-trans violence — and that coverage must actually feature trans voices. That TV news networks decreased the amount of coverage they dedicated to anti-trans violence at a time when right-wing voices are spreading anti-trans hate and encouraging the passage of discriminatory legislation is just one symptom of corporate TV news’ larger failure to adequately report on issues facing trans people. Corporate TV news networks have clearly demonstrated that they have the capacity to cover anti-trans violence but continuously choose to ignore the subject. Each network has a responsibility to inform their viewers with accurate coverage and finally improve this woeful dearth of reporting.
  • Methodology
  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream database for all original programming on cable networks CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC and corporate broadcast news networks ABC, CBS, and NBCfor any of the terms or any variations of the terms “transgender,” “trans,” “transphobe,” “transphobia,” “gender identity,” “gender nonconforming,” “nonbinary,” or “gender fluid” within close proximity of any of the terms “violence,” “crime,” “hate,” “attack,” “homicide,” “shoot,” “shot,” “murder,” “death,” “die,” “dead,” “kill,” “stab,” “strangle,” “beat,” or “burn” from January 1 through December 31, 2021, 6 a.m. EST to midnight daily.
  • We also searched for the names of the transgender and gender-nonconforming people who were killed in 2021: Tyianna Alexander, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, Dominique Jackson, Fifty Bandz, Alexus Braxton, Chyna Carrillo, Jeffery “JJ” Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond Kyree Sanders, Rayanna Pardo, Jaida Peterson, Dominique Lucious, Remy Fennell, Tiara Banks, Natalia Smut, Iris Santos, Tiffany Thomas, Keri Washington, Jahaira DeAlto, Whispering Wind Bear Spirit, Sophie Vásquez, Danika “Danny” Henson, Serenity Hollis, Oliver “Ollie” Taylor, Thomas Hardin, Poe Black, EJ Boykin, Aidelen Evans, Taya Ashton, Shai Vanderpump, Tierramarie Lewis, Miss CoCo, Pooh Johnson, Disaya Monaee, Briana Hamilton, Kiér Laprí Kartier, Mel Groves, Royal Poetical Starz, Zoella “Zoey” Rose Martinez, Jo Acker, Jessi Hart, Rikkey Outumuro, Marquiisha Lawrence, Jenny De Leon, Angel Naira, Danyale Thompson, Cris Blehar, Nikai David, Ke’Yahonna Stone, Za’niyah Williams, Nikki Turietta, Rubi Dominguez, and Keeva Scatter. Martina Caldera and Geri Judd, whose names were added to the HRC tracker after the conclusion of this study, were not searched for.
  • Early police reports and local coverage often referred to victims by their deadnames. We also searched for the deadnames of the 2021 victims but have not listed those names here as deadnaming is a form of harassment.We also searched transcripts in the Nexis database for all of the above terms and names; however, this double-check was limited to news shows airing between 5 p.m. and midnight on Fox News and MSNBC. We were able to search all cable news transcripts for CNN and all broadcast news transcripts for ABC, CBS, and NBC.
  • We included segments about anti-trans violence, which we defined as instances when anti-trans violence was the stated topic of discussion or when there was significant discussion of anti-trans violence. We defined “significant discussion” as any back-and-forth exchange between two or more people about anti-trans violence; we did not include passing mentions. We also excluded teasers, which we defined as short mentions from the host of segments coming up later in the broadcast. We rounded all times to the nearest minute.

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Alex Paterson is a researcher for the LGBTQ program at Media Matters, where he has worked since 2019. Alex holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Montana State University and has a background in LGBTQ advocacy, including previous work at the National LGBTQ Task Force.

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The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

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New study on resilience & mental health among LGBTQ youth

LGBTQ youth with high resilience had 59% lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt- 69% lower odds of considering suicide in the past year

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

NEW YORK – The Trevor Project observing the 53rd anniversary of the riots at the Stonewall Inn that sparked a greater movement for LGBTQ+ rights and equality this week, released new data that examines resilience and mental health among LGBTQ youth.

“As we celebrate Pride Month and commemorate the Stonewall Riots, there is often discussion of the ‘resilience’ of the LGBTQ community and the ways in which members are able to bounce back in the face of adversity. These data highlight the fact that resilience is not just an admirable quality – but one that can be associated with improved mental health among LGBTQ youth,” said Dr. Jonah DeChants, Research Scientist at The Trevor Project.

“Higher resilience in our sample was consistently associated with better mental health outcomes including decreased risk for anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts in the past year among LGBTQ youth. Moving forward, we should invest further research into understanding how LGBTQ youth can successfully develop high resilience. Additionally, we should work to dismantle systems of oppression and implement LGBTQ-inclusive anti-discrimination protections  so that LGBTQ youth are not required to possess resilience to excel and thrive.” 

Key Findings:

  • LGBTQ youth with high resilience had 59% lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt, and 69% lower odds of considering suicide in the past year, compared to LGBTQ youth with low resilience. 
  • LGBTQ youth with high resilience reported 81% lower odds  of anxiety symptoms, compared to LGBTQ youth with low resilience. 
  • LGBTQ youth with  high resilience reported 79% lower odds of recent depression, compared to LGBTQ youth with low resilience. 
  • LGBTQ youth who have supportive families and  are in supportive environments have higher resilience.
  • LGBTQ youth ages 18 to 24 reported significantly higher resilience than LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 17. 

Read the report:

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Research/Study

150 people on Tennessee’s sex offender registry for HIV-related conviction

Nearly one-half of HIV registrants on the SOR were women and over three-quarters of HIV registrants were Black

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

LOS ANGELES – At least 154 people have been placed on Tennessee’s sex offender registry (SOR) for an HIV-related conviction since 1993, according to a new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

Enforcement of HIV crimes in Tennessee disproportionately affects women and Black people. Nearly one-half of HIV registrants on the SOR were women and over three-quarters of HIV registrants were Black.

Tennessee’s two primary HIV criminalization laws—aggravated prostitution and criminal exposure—make it a felony for people living with HIV to engage in sex work or other activities, such as intimate contact, blood donation, or needle exchange, without disclosing their status. Both are considered a “violent sexual offense” and require a person convicted to register as a sex offender for life.

Examining Tennessee’s sex offender registry, researchers found that Shelby County, home to Memphis, accounts for most of the state’s HIV convictions. Shelby County makes up only 13% of Tennessee’s population and 37% of the population of people living with HIV in the state, but 64% of HIV registrants on the SOR. Moreover, while Black Tennesseans were only 17% of the state’s population and 56% of people living with HIV in the state, 75% of all HIV registrants were Black.

In Shelby County, 91% of aggravated prostitution convictions resulted from police sting operations in which no physical contact ever occurred. In addition, the case files showed that 75% of those convicted were Black women. When it came to criminal exposure case files, all of those convicted except one person were Black men.

“Tennessee’s HIV criminal laws were enacted at a time when little was known about HIV and before modern medical advances were available to treat and prevent HIV,” said lead author Nathan Cisneros, HIV Criminalization Analyst at the Williams Institute. “Tennessee’s outdated laws do not require actual transmission or the intent to transmit HIV. Moreover, the laws ignore whether the person living with HIV is in treatment and virally suppressed and therefore cannot transmit HIV.”

KEY FINDINGS

  • Incarcerating people for HIV-related offenses has cost Tennessee at least $3.8 million.
  • Of the 154 people who have been placed on Tennessee’s SOR for an HIV-related conviction, 51% were convicted of aggravated prostitution, 46% were convicted of criminal exposure, and 3% were convicted of both.
  • Women account for 26% of people living with HIV in Tennessee and 4% of people on the SOR, but 46% of the SOR’s HIV registrants.
  • Black people account for 17% of people living in Tennessee, 56% of those living with HIV, 27% of people on the SOR, but 75% of the SOR’s HIV registrants.
  • Black women were the majority of aggravated prostitution registrants (57%), while Black men were the majority of criminal exposure registrants (64%).
  • People with an HIV-related offense are more economically vulnerable when compared to others on the state’s SOR.
    • One in five (19%) HIV registrants were homeless compared to 9% of all SOR registrants.
    • 28% of HIV registrants reported an employer address compared to about half (49%) of all SOR registrants.
  • Shelby County has one aggravated prostitution conviction for every 115 people living with HIV in the county, and Black people were 90% of all people convicted for aggravated prostitution.
    • Over 90% of aggravated prostitution convictions in Shelby County were the result of police sting operations.
    • Only 3% of aggravated prostitution convictions in Shelby County alleged any intimate contact.
    • Nearly all (95%) people arrested in Shelby County for criminal exposure were Black men, compared to 64% of people statewide.  

The Williams Institute has conducted research on HIV criminalization in numerous U.S. states.

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Research/Study

New Pew Research Center poll: Americans at odds over Trans issues 

Strong majorities favor non-discrimination protections but weaker support for access to transition-related care among minors

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Texas trans activist Landon Richie speaking at Texas Capitol against trans youth sports bill (Los Angeles Blade file photo)

WASHINGTON – A new survey from a leading non-partisan research center reveals Americans have mixed views on transgender issues at a time when states are moving forward with measures against transgender youth, with strong majorities favoring non-discrimination protections but weaker support for access to transition-related care among minors and participation in school sports.

The Pew Research Center issued the findings on Tuesday as part of the results of its ongoing study to better understand Americans’ views about gender identity and people who are transgender or non-binary. The findings are based on a survey of 10,188 U.S. adults from data collected as part of a larger survey conducted May 16-22.

A majority of respondents by wide margins favor non-discrimination protections for transgender people. A full 64 percent back laws or policies that would protect transgender people from discrimination in jobs, housing, and public spaces, while roughly 8-in-10 acknowledge transgender people face at least some discrimination in our society.

Additionally, nearly one half of Americans say it’s extremely important to use a transgender person’s new name after they undergo a transition, while an additional 22 percent say that is somewhat important. A smaller percentage, 34 percent, say using a transgender person’s pronouns is extremely important, and 21 percent say it is somewhat important.

But other findings were less supportive:

  • 60 percent say a person’s gender is determined by sex assigned at birth, reflecting an increase from 56 percent in 2021 and 54 percent in 2017, compared to 38 percent who say gender can be different from sex assigned at birth.
  • 54 percent say society has either gone too far or been about right in terms of acceptance, underscoring an ambivalence around transgender issues even among those who see at least some discrimination against transgender people.
  • About six-in-ten adults, or 58 precent, favor proposals that would require transgender athletes to compete on teams that match the sex they were assigned at birth as opposed to teams consistent with their gender identity, compared to 17 percent who oppose that and 24 percent neither favor nor oppose it.
  • 46 percent favor making it illegal for health care professionals to provide transition-related care, such as hormones or gender reassignment surgery, to someone younger than 18, compared to 31 percent who oppose it.
  • Americans are more evenly split when it comes to making it illegal for public school districts to teach about gender identity in elementary schools (which is favored by 41 percent, and opposed by 38 percent) and investigating parents for child abuse if they help someone younger than 18 obtain transition-related care (37 percent are in favor and 36 percent oppose it).

Young adults took the lead in terms of supporting change and acceptance. Half of adults ages 18 to 29 say someone can be a man or a woman even if that differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, compared to about four-in-10 of those ages 30 to 49 and about one-third of respondents 50 and older.

Predictably, stark differences could be found along party lines. Democrats by 59 precent say society hasn’t gone far enough in accepting people who are transgender, while 15 percent say it has gone too far and 24 percent say it’s been about right. For Republicans, 10 percent say society hasn’t gone far enough, while 66 percent say it’s gone too far and 22 percent say it’s been about right.

Read the full report here.

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