The New York Times has invited GLAAD and trans community members to meet in order to speak about story ideas, and ways to improve the paper's coverage of the transgender community.
The move follows a sensationalized and exploitative piece on the death of Lorena Escalera who had been the victim of a fire. Yesterday, another article ran focusing on trans youth culture of Christopher Street but did not include some of the deeper issues facing many trans women of color.
In recent months, it has seemed like the paper's lack of sensitivity towards the trans community has hampered its ability to see beyond appearance and clothing to get at the human stories underneath.
On any given day in this city, there are hundreds of important stories to tell about transgender people. And many of those stories could touch on some of the elements of both of these stories - like how beloved Lorena Escalera was, or why this community needs a place like Christopher Street which for some may provide an escape from the intolerance, mistreatment, discrimination and even violence they face in their day-to-day lives.
But why not point out that a number of the women who frequent New York’s West Village are homeless, oftentimes cast out by unaccepting families, victims of housing discrimination, or both? Why not focus on the fact that just this year, the city reportedly slashed $7 million in funds to Runaway and Homeless Youth Services, eliminating approximately 160 youth beds from LGBT shelters like The Ali Forney Center? Why not inform its audience that LGBT youth in New York are up to eight times more likely than straight youth to experience homelessness and approximately 40-50% of the estimated 4000 homeless youth subjected to the streets each night identify as LGBT?
Those stories don't get clicks the way stories about provocatively dressed trans women of color do. But what they do is raise the base level of understanding about what it means to be young and transgender in this city today. They educate.
Janet Mock said about the Christopher Street piece, “My problem with this piece is that trans women, specifically those of color in this gentrified environment of New York City, are under layers and layers of oppression – none of which are examined and or mentioned in this paper of record.”
Our meeting with the Times will explore those layers, and encourage the paper to consider telling these stories - as well as explain exactly how these stories could cause harm to trans people, youth in particular.