Target: Fox News
Goal: Ask Fox News to apologize for publishing offensive image with transgender story and to promise to make a concerted sensitivity effort when discussing transgender issues
Media giant Fox News is no stranger to criticism from the LGBT and other minority communities. In the latest controversy, the Fox Nation website used an image from the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” to accompany a story about transgender healthcare, sparking outrage about the organizations’s extensive track record of using offensive images to mock and demonize transgender people.
On January 13, Fox Nation posted a Newsmax.com article explaining new regulations in California and Oregon that require insurance companies to cover treatments for transgender patients if those treatments are also covered for non-transgender patients. The post appeared to be making fun of transgender people and the serious issue of denying them health coverage by featuring a picture from the 1993 comedy film “Mrs. Doubtfire.” The headline of the story was “California and Oregon Insist on Transgender Health Coverage” with an image of Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire featured underneath.
Oregon’s largest LGBT civil rights group is circulating a petition about the article, and also about Fox News’ history of “transphobic content.” The petition circulating by Basic Rights Oregon states, in part, “Fox News: stop misrepresenting gay and transgender people with sensational and dehumanizing coverage. Trivializing transgender people’s need for medically necessary health care ignores the position of the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and countless other authorities on health care.”
By the morning of January 15, the image had been taken down and replaced with an image of a stethoscope.
Janet Mock, a trans advocate journalist who went public in 2011, told TakePart.com, “I’m in shock that the editors of Fox chose to use a photo of Robin Williams in drag as the illustration of this matter of life and death for trans people,” calling it “dehumanizing and belittling.” Mock added, “Beyond being biased, the image is problematic for a number of reasons…Trans people are not wearing a costume. Our lives and struggles are not jokes, and using such an image spreads damaging stereotypes that who we are is put on, entertainment and fictional. It’s those same misconceptions and stereotypes that allow trans people to be discriminated against when it comes to access to housing, employment and healthcare.”
Ask Fox News to apologize to the transgender community and also to make a promise to take more care in the future when discussing LGBT and transgender issues.
Dear Fox News,
Provided recent events, we hope you have taken a hard look at the self-proclamation on your own website saying, “The Fox Nation is for those opposed to intolerance.” If you want to honor this mission, you will no longer spread misinformation and offensive images regarding transgender people. As a major media outlet reaching millions of people all over the world, you have a responsibility to do better.
Americans are becoming more and more accepting of the LGBT community, and it would not serve your readers to continue perpetuating offensive myths and stereotypes about subsets of that community. We thank you for taking the image from “Mrs. Doubtfire” down, but it is not enough. Given the history of your organization with regards to controversies like these, we ask you to please issue a public apology and promise to responsibly portray future stories about the transgender community with sensitivity and truthfulness.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: ParaDox via Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons license