Politics

‘The Australian’ Has Reached A New Low With Its New Dedication To Demonising Trans People

Benjamin Law is calling on readers of The Australian to unsubscribe, saying he'll donate to The Gender Centre for each person who does.

the australian

If you thought mainstream media coverage of transgender issues couldn’t sink any lower, think again. Over the weekend, The Australian announced a new page on its website solely dedicated to its coverage of news affecting trans people, and it’s really quite shit.

The new page is technically titled “gender issues”, suggesting a broader remit, but don’t let that fool you. The Australian’s Bernard Lane introduced the new section on Twitter as a page dedicated to “trans nation: the gender debate” (honestly find me a trans nation where I can go and live free of The Australian’s drivel), and all but one of the 18 articles currently listed on the page are about transgender people.

Shockingly, the majority are not flattering to trans people. Many are blatant fearmongering, spreading misinformation under headlines like “Transgender project ‘out of balance’”, “Sex not a matter of belief”, “Corrupting kids’ thinking”, and, incredibly, “They’re castrating children” (they’re not).

There are also a fair few articles dedicated to just repeating Scott Morrison’s ill-informed comments about trans people (“PM lashes ‘mystifying’ policy that ensures transgender people can play cricket at highest level”, “The PM says a rule ensuring transgender people can play at the highest level is “a sledgehammer”).

This is not going down well with the LGBTIQ community, who continue to point out that fearmongering coverage about transgender people has serious consequences for transgender people — in particular trans kids, who face alarming rates of suicide and depression.

Writer Benjamin Law has gone a step further, encouraging people to unsubscribe from The Australian over the issue, and promising to donate to The Gender Centre, an organisation supporting trans youth, on behalf of anyone who unsubscribes this month.

“Despicable: the Australian has now set up a dedicated page to demonise and spread misinformation about trans and gender-variant youth,” Law wrote on Twitter. “Promoting fringe anti-trans extremists while campaigning against medical experts and kids hospitals. Struggling to think of anything lower.”

The Australian, of course, insists that it is being perfectly balanced: this morning, Bernard Lane shared an article headlined “They’re castrating children” with a tweet asking “How did we get to a point where it’s dangerous for clinicians to question risky medical treatment for gender-confused kids?”. The answer to that question is that we haven’t: clinicians are perfectly free to question risky medical treatments for kids, although that is somewhat beside the point given that “risky medical treatment” is not typically offered to trans kids.

We’ve fact-checked this bullshit before, which is what The Australian should have done before publishing that story. In short, the kinds of treatment options offered to kids are typically small and reversible steps towards transition, led by what the child has expressed a desire for. Those options might include supportive counselling, perhaps supporting the child to try out different clothes, or a different name and pronouns at school.

Older children may be offered medication to temporarily delay puberty (once again, a reversible option), which is intended to give that child more time to decide whether they would like to proceed with a physical transition. This is the opposite of castrating children.

The Australian’s latest nonsense also comes after a study published by researchers at Victoria University last week found that News Corp newspapers, including The Australian, have emboldened the far right with their coverage. According to the study, far-right groups successfully used things like The Australian’s negative coverage of the LGBTIQ anti-bullying program Safe Schools as recruitment tools.

That should give pause for thought. Instead, The Australian is out here spreading blatant, harmful lies about trans and gender diverse people. Enough, already.