Last week, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and Megyn Kelly made a series of offensive, dehumanizing comments about transgender inmate Michelle Kosilek during a segment on The O'Reilly Factor, as reported by Equality Matters. O'Reilly and Kelly wrongly referred to Kosilek as "he" and "a guy" throughout their discussion in which they trivialized a Massachusetts court ruling ordering the state to cover Kosilek's gender-confirming surgery. By the end of the segment, the segment had degenerated into the two hosts making fun of Kosilek's appearance and "joking" about her safety while she is housed in a male prison.
Refusing to refer to Kosilek with the gender and pronouns with which she identifies herself is completely irresponsible, a point which the AP Style Guide made clear more than a decade ago. Additionally, for O'Reilly and Kelly to "joke" about Kosilek's appearance and make light of the sexual violence she might face living in a male prison is despicable. Violence is never a laughing matter, and transgender prisoners have reported alarming rates of physical and sexual assault by both fellow inmates and staff. Moreover, the overarching theme of this segment, an attempt to trivialize transgender people's need for affordable medical treatment, ignores the position of the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and countless other authorities on heath.
Of course, this is not the first time that Fox News hosts have shown sweeping disrespect for transgender people. In 2011, Fox News' "expert on psychiatry" Keith Ablow made ridiculous claims about transgender advocate Chaz Bono, prompting criticism even from Megyn Kelly at the time - in addition to the many actual experts that discredited Ablow. The outlet as a whole fails to provide fair, accurate and inclusive converge of LGBT issues in various ways, such as an article running today on the Fox Nation website about transgender healthcare that erroneously includes a still from the film Mrs. Doubtfire, once again trivializing this serious issue. It's time for Fox News to stop misrepresenting transgender people with its sensational and dehumanizing coverage.