REPORT: How National Media Outlets Cover Transgender News Stories
Cable, broadcast, and Spanish language news networks largely ignored an “epidemic of deadly violence” against the transgender community in the first two months of 2015, despite devoting coverage to various transgender stories. When networks discussed transgender issues, they often failed to include the voices of transgender individuals, especially transgender women of color.
CNN, MSNBC Extensively Discussed Transgender Issues. Both CNN and MSNBC dedicated substantial time to covering transgender news stories in the first two months of 2015, while Fox News devoted significantly less time to transgender issues:
Nearly Half Of MSNBC’s Coverage Occurred During Ronan Farrow Daily, Which Was Cancelled In February. Of MSNBC's sixty-one minutes of coverage of transgender issues, just over twenty-nine minutes were from Ronan Farrow Daily. The show was cancelled on February 27.
CBS Devoted More Time To Transgender Issues Than Both NBC And ABC Combined. In the first two months of 2015, CBS and NBC covered a number of transgender stories, while ABC ran only one segment on transgender issues during its news programming:
Over Half Of CBS’s Coverage Came From A Segment Discussing Amazon’s Transparent.
News Coverage Of Transgender Issues Focused On Bruce Jenner, Chelsea Manning, Leelah Alcorn. Coverage of transgender stories across cable news networks focused heavily on Bruce Jenner’s expected transition, Chelsea Manning’s hormone therapy in military prison, and the suicide of transgender Ohio teen Leelah Alcorn:
- 82 Percent Of CNN’s Coverage Of Transgender Issues Was Devoted To Jenner's Transition.
Nearly Half Of Fox News’ Coverage Was Dedicated To Criticizing CUNY's Gender-Neutral Memo. Four minutes of Fox News' eleven minutes of transgender coverage were spent criticizing the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) for a memo suggesting that staff avoid using gendered salutations in corresponded with students.
Only One Sunday Show Featured A Discussion Of Transgender Issues. Across cable and broadcast networks’ Sunday news shows, only MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry featured a host-driven discussion of transgender issues – during a January 3 segment about the suicide of transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn:
Seven Transgender Women Of Color Were Murdered In The First Two Months Of 2015. [National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 3/11/15]
Trans Women Of Color Collective: Trans Communities Of Color Are “Disproportionately Impacted By Violence And Discrimination.” In a statement to Media Matters, Lourdes Ashley Hunter, National Director of the Trans Women of Color Collective, wrote:
Trans and gender non-conforming communities of color are historically disproportionately impacted by violence and discrimination. There is an epidemic of brutal violence against trans women of color that is inextricably linked to the structural oppression we face every day. In 2013, there were 14 reported murders of trans women of color. In 2014, the same year that our nation celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, 12 trans women of color were brutally murdered in a 6-month time span. And in the first two months of this year, 7 (reported) trans women of color have been brutally murdered. The lack of national outrage reinforces a narrative that our lives are disposable. [Email exchange with Media Matters, 4/6/15]
Homicides Of Transgender Women Have Reached “Unprecedented Levels” In 2015. In a statement to Media Matters, Osman Ahmed, Research and Education Coordinator at the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), wrote:
The homicides of transgender women, and specifically transgender women of color, is an ongoing epidemic that has reached unprecedented levels with the seven homicides of transgender women of color in the first two months of 2015 alone. In just these two months NCAVP has documented more than half of the 12 homicides that were reported in all of 2014. While coverage of individual homicides has somewhat increased recently, it is time for the media to start connecting the dots and talking about the breadth and complexity of this violence. [Email exchange with Media Matters, 3/16/15]
NCAVP: “Alarming Epidemic Of Deadly Violence” Against LGBTQ Communities In 2015. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, transgender women of color have faced “an alarming epidemic of deadly violence” in 2015:
“In 2015 we are seeing an alarming epidemic of deadly violence against LGBTQ communities, and particularly against transgender women of color,” said Chai Jindasurat, Co-Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at the New York City Anti Violence Project. “We need more public awareness and respect campaigns, more people speaking out against this violence, and more protections, particularly for transgender people, from harassment and discrimination. This is an outrage, and we all have to commit as a nation to ending this violence.” [NCAVP, 2/19/15]
National News Networks Largely Ignored The Murders Of Seven Transgender Women Of Color. ABC, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, and NBC ignored the murders of seven transgender women of color during the first two months of 2015. CNN’s Don Lemon briefly mentioned the murder of three of the women during a discussion about Bruce Jenner during the February 5 edition of CNN Tonight.
Fox News, ABC, And NBC Failed To Host Transgender Guests When Covering Transgender Issues. While CNN and MSNBC both frequently invited transgender guests to participate in news segments about transgender issues, Fox News, ABC, and NBC failed to include transgender people during transgender-focused segments with guests in the first two months of 2015:
CNN’s Trans Guests Were Mostly White, While MSNBC Featured Trans Women Of Color. CNN’s transgender guests were primarily white, while MSNBC’s representation of transgender people was split between white and non-white guests:
Univision And Telemundo Devoted Less Than Ten Minutes To Transgender Issues. Major Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo, largely ignored transgender issues in the first two months of 2015, with both networks devoting less than ten minutes to discussing transgender issues:
Neither Spanish- Language Network Mentioned Transgender Issues During Their Sunday News Shows. Neither Univision's Al Punto nor Telemundo's Enfoque featured a discussion of transgender issues during the first two months of 2015.
Neither Spanish- Language Network Mentioned Violence Against The Transgender Community. Neither Univision nor Telemundo discussed the murders of seven transgender women of color or the issue of violence against the transgender community in the first two months of 2015.
Both Spanish- Language Networks Featured Transgender Individuals During Their Coverage. Univision and Telemundo both featured transgender guests during their coverage of transgender issues - activist Maggie Sanchez during the February 9 edition of Noticiero Telemundo, activist Marichuy Leal Gamino during the January 28 edition of Univision’s Edicion Nocturna, and a transgender woman during the February 10 edition of Noticiero Univision.
Media Matters used TV Eyes, Nexis, and IQMedia to search ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, between January 1 and February 28, 2015 for the terms “transgender!,” “transsexual,” “cross-dress!,” “transphob!,” “gender identity,” “Yazmin AND Payne,” “Yasmine AND Payne,” “Michael AND Payne,” “Michelle AND Payne,” “Ty AND Underwood,” “Tyler AND Underwood,” “Tyrone AND Underwood,” “Ty Lee AND Underwood,” “Lamia AND Beard,” “Floyd AND Beard,” “Taja AND Dejesus,” “Penny AND Proud,” “Perry AND Thornton,” “Kristina AND Gomez,” “Christina AND Gomez,” “Kristina AND Infiniti,” “Christina AND Infiniti,” “Christina AND Grand,” “Kristina AND Grand,” “Ruben AND Gomez,” “Papi AND Edwards,” “Bradley Manning,” “Chelsea Manning,” “Leelah,” “Alcorn,” “suicide AND Ohio,” and “Jenner.”
The same search was run in Spanish for Univision and Telemundo using TV Eyes and IQMedia.
Reruns and teases for upcoming segments were excluded. Mentions after midnight but before the beginning of the next day’s news cycle were excluded. For broadcast networks, we limited our search to the regular morning and evening newscasts, excluding shows like 20/20 and The View.
Transgender coverage included any intentional, network-prompted mention of a transgender news story or individual. Mentions made by guests were excluded. Passing mentions, like references to Amazon.com’s “Transparent” winning a Golden Globe or offhand remarks about Bruce Jenner’s appearance were not included.
To measure how often transgender guests were invited on the networks, we considered all transgender-focused news segments that included commentary from guests. Segments that aired pre-recorded clips of transgender individuals commenting were counted as having a transgender guests. Network correspondents were not considered guests.
Foreign nationals were excluded from the diversity analysis. This applied to only one guest, Diego Neria Lejarraga, the transgender man who claims to have had a private audience with Pope Francis. He appeared on the January 31 edition of CNN Newsroom.