Gender clinic chief slams trans & gender diverse reporting at News Corp

The current parliamentary inquiry into media diversity in Australia has received a submission from the director of Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne’s gender service, speaking out against The Australian‘s coverage of transgender and gender diverse issues.

Associate Professor Michelle Telfer has outlined her thoughts on The Australian‘s dedicated ‘Gender’ section, which launched in 2019, describing the articles as “false, inaccurate, unfair and unbalanced information”.

A/Prof. Telfer submission also highlights her concern that the NewsCorp publication was attempting to undermine her professional image and integrity with their targeted coverage of her work and the clinic.

The submission identifies 45 articles which feature Telfer, 80 mentions of her name and 282 references to the gender clinic between August 2019 and July 2020.

“The publishing of factually inaccurate, misleading or biased material, presented as news but indistinguishable from opinion, cannot be considered to be in the public interest, ” A/Prof. Telfer said in the submission.

“This is especially the case if it is harming children and young people and entrenching disadvantage in a particular community within society. This is what has been happening by The Australian’s portrayal of trans children, young people, families and the clinicians who provide care for them.

“The impact of each individual article and editorial published by The Australian in the series outlined above, is known to have caused distress.

“More importantly however, it is the repetitious nature of this inaccurate and unfair reporting, over a long period of time, which causes accumulative harm through the exacerbation of the stigma, discrimination, marginalisation, social rejection and abuse that this community receives on a day to day basis.

“This is what I have personally seen and experienced since August 2019. The Australian continues to publish articles without apparent consideration to the facts, or to the harm it causes to the individuals and the families who suffer as a consequence.”

The Australian‘s trans and gender diverse coverage has been criticised by a number of organisations, particularly for the omission of trans and gender diverse voices in their reporting, as well as their “cherry-picking” of medical experts.

AusPATH, the peak medical body for transgender health care in Australia, labeled the newspaper’s coverage of transgender health issues as a “clear transphobic agenda” back in 2019.

“The reason we have chosen not to engage with The Australian newspaper is that their journalists already have a clear transphobic agenda backed by cherry-picked “experts”. You can’t argue with zealots and crusaders!” the organisation posted to Twitter in September 2019.

The organisation had previously posted a rebuttal of claims the newspaper made about the treatment of transgender youth in August of the same year.

“Our organisation is concerned that the recent reporting in The Australian newspaper regarding health care provided to TGD children and adolescents is biased, emotive and is not based on fact.”

The ABC’s Media Watch program also slammed The Australian‘s ‘Gender’ page after its launch in 2019, with host Paul Barry describing their coverage as “bad journalism” and “one-sided”.

“The Australian has written no less than eighteen stories on gender since the 7th of August, or more than one a day.” Barry said. “Apart from a handful on cricket’s new transgender policy – written by the sports writers – they are almost all full of fear and warnings.”

Calling the newspaper’s coverage “one-eyed”, Barry highlighted that many of the experts the newspaper frequently quoted did not have any expertise in treating gender dysphoria.

John Lehmann, the editor of the newspaper, has responded to the criticism saying the medical professionals they go to for comment worked in the general area of practice.

The Australian seeks at all times to provide balance and obtain diverse views. We consider it correct to report legitimate questions raised by someone whose professional qualifications are in the same general domain as the practice under scrutiny, the health of children and adolescents.” Lehmann said.

The newspaper’s managing editor Helen Trinka also defended the coverage, telling OUTinPerth at the time that the reports were “objective, factual and accurate.”

OIP Staff

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