Multimedia observation responded to an open letter from LGBTQIA+ community organizations that cited a lack of balance in its report this week following the firing of The Age columnist Julie Szego.
Age columnist Julie Szego quits the paper after the editor publishes an article about transgenders. pic.twitter.com/UEGe0wMn79
— Media Watch (@ABCmediawatch) June 27, 2023
We were extremely disappointed by the lack of accuracy, balance and fairness in Monday night’s segment about a female reporter, her conflict with The Age and her article on gender-affirming care.
Gender-affirming assistance helps trans people thrive, live their best lives and gives them the freedom to be themselves. The broad medical consensus is that gender-affirming care is life-changing treatment, improving people’s lives, and more needs to be done to make it more affordable and accessible to all who need it.
The segment failed to properly engage with vital facts and context that were necessary for the audience to gain a full understanding of the article in question.
While there have been many issues with the segment, we have three main complaints.
#1 The segment failed to acknowledge the wealth of evidence and broad medical consensus on gender-affirming care
Gender Affirmation Assistance is supported by nearly every major medical organization in Australia and internationally.
In a 2020 statement the Royal Australasian College of Physicians said:
“Denying or limiting access to care and treatment would be unethical and have serious implications for the health and well-being of young people…Ensuring that children and adolescents with gender dysphoria can access appropriate care and treatment regardless of where they live , should be a national priority.”
And just last week the American Medical Association, one of the largest and oldest medical organizations in the United States, solidified its position in support of gender-affirming care in the face of vicious anti-trans attacks.
#2 The segment failed to acknowledge that the article referenced fringe conspiracy theories, discredited science, and links to known anti-trans disinformation groups.
The article references multiple conspiracy theories that have been discredited and debunked.
One of the organizations referenced in the article was also recently reviewed in an article published in the Yale School of Medicine Journal:
“SEGM (Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine) does not appear to hold meetings, select its members, or publish a journal…… A contextual examination reveals that SEGM is an ideological organization with no apparent ties to major scientific or professional organizations. Its 14 core members are a small group of regular players in anti-trans activity, a fact the SEGM website does not disclose.”
#3 The segment failed to acknowledge the broader political context of the article which would help the audience understand the trans community’s reaction to these pieces and the specific issues raised.
In the US and UK anti-trans lobbyists have stoked fear and prejudice against trans and gender diverse people, working to undermine our human rights, our access to healthcare, but they have also contributed to fueling a sharp increase in violence, harassment and abuse against the trans community.
In the United States, the same kinds of medical misinformation presented in this article have been used by the Republican party as a justification for laws proposing to ban gender-affirming treatments. This information is important for the public to understand the political and social context of the article and what the impact of this type of disinformation has been in other countries.
Ultimately, these kinds of stories provide parents with a false view of established science and fuel anti-trans stigma. This increases the risk for trans and gender-different children of being exposed to conversion practices, family violence and denial of care.
We believe that the segment lacks balance, fairness and accuracy and we request Media Watch to take the following actions to remedy the situation.
We ask that Media Watch:
Film a fix for airing in the next episode, detailing the role misinformation played in the piece in question, apologizing for the lack of attention paid to ensure accuracy and fairness, and unpacking any related omissions made to give the audience a better understanding of the surrounding context.
Publicly commit to engaging with and taking seriously the input of trans and gender diverse leaders for future stories of this nature.
Trans justice project
International Amnesty Australia
P Flag Tasmania
P Flag Australia
Hunter Gender Alliance
South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance (SARAA)
Parenting for trans youth equity
Victorian Pride Lobby
TransFolk of WA
Thorne Port Health
Queer unionists in tertiary education
Twenty10 includes GLCS NSW
Dowson Turkish Lawyers
Union of Australian Unemployed Workers
Trans Pride Australia
Australian Rainbow Vets and Allies
Media Watch Executive Producer Tim Latham:
The Julie Szego case is a legitimate story for Media Watch.
It was a fair and balanced account that included much criticism of Ms. Szego, her article and her views, and afforded significant airtime for counterpoints.
Media Watch invited Trans Justice Project director Jackie Turner to comment on the segment in which she disputed the accuracy of Szego’s article and called many of her sources “ideological, misleading or explicitly anti-LGBTQIA+”
Media Watch also included commentary from Natalie Feliks, a trans rights activist and writer. She endorsed Age’s decision and called Ms Szego and her article “uninformed, propaganda and lies” and argued that Szego was channeling “not a feminist ideology” but “a far-right ideology aligned with the Nazis and must be treated as such”.
Media Watch also included quotes from Age Editor about why he fleshed out the story and fired Ms. Szego.
Media Watch published all three statements in full on its website.
We stand by our story and the importance of conveying different points of view.