Fox News acknowledged that its jokes about ‘intersex’ were offensive to intersex people.
Fox & Friends discussed why graduation gowns had to be gendered by color. They called up past reporting on transgender students (hint: Fox News doesn’t do good reporting on transgender people). The hosts also demonstrated that they do not understand the difference between transgender and intersex, eliding the two.
However, Fox & Friends co-host, Clayton Morris, recalled his earlier jokes about “intersex” when reporting on Facebook’s expanded gender options. He expressed regret at the joke, realizing that it erased the reality that people are born with real physical differences in their bodies.
Just put yourself in the shoes of those children, though, who have to deal with that. Look, I made a pretty ignorant statement a few weeks ago, we were talking about the Facebook story where they added the bunch of different gender-identifying things. And I made sort of an offhanded comment and I regretted it later because now, 'Wait a second. There are people who are actually dealing with this and I'm an idiot for saying something stupid like that.' So before you open your mouth, just think about it a little bit.
In response to Fox News’ comments and jokes, the intersex youth group, Inter/Act published an open letter on GLAAD’s blog. Additionally, the Advocates for Informed Choice Board President, Sean Saifa Wall, and the President of AIS-DSD support group, Dr. Georgiann Davis published their own commentary in The Advocate. The outcry seems to have reached some of the Fox anchors, prompting the apology.
“To have Fox News’ cruel words about intersex people acknowledged on air sends a strong message to the intersex community,” said Alice Alvarez, youth member of Inter/Act, who helped to craft the open letter to Fox News posted on GLAAD's blog. “While they may not understand the realities of our lives, they know that their words have the power to harm us. I hope that we can continue to educate Fox, as well as the American public more about the realities of our lives.”
Fox News clearly has a long way to go to understand and report on intersex stories, and they continue to have a poor track record when it comes to reporting on transgender issues. This instance is a rare moment of reflection on how words and jokes can harm real people.