Metro Weekly

60 Minutes criticized for ‘dangerous’ and ‘dehumanizing’ segment on transgender healthcare

LGBTQ advocates called the segment “shameful,” “horrible,” and “anti-trans propaganda”

60 Minutes, detransition, lesley stahl, trans, transgender
60 Minutes

CBS’s flagship newsmagazine show 60 Minutes has been heavily criticized for airing a segment focused on the small minority of transgender people who regret their transition.

Aired on Sunday, May 23, the segment included interviews between host Lesley Stahl and four people who had opted to detransition — including Grace Lidinsky-Smith, the cofounder of an organization that seeks to limit gender-affirming care for transgender people and has been accused of having ties to anti-LGBTQ conversion therapy.

Laura Edwards, a psychologist featured in the segment, told Stahl that she was “greatly concerned” about transgender healthcare and said, “I feel like what is happening is unethical and irresponsible in some places.”

LGBTQ advocates slammed Stahl and 60 Minutes, branding the segment “shameful,” “horrible,” and “anti-trans propaganda,” and accused 60 Minutes of showing trans healthcare from a “dangerous, unaccountable and limited angle.”

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, who was briefly included in the segment, argued that transgender people are being “further marginalized and victimized by elected officials, by anti-equality forces.”

In an expanded interview on 60 Minutes Overtime, an online component to the broadcast show, David said he had “a number of concerns about a story that talks about detransitioning without really focusing on the larger context of the trans experience.”

He said that CBS needed to “talk about the people who successfully transition — the vast majority of people who do. And I’m concerned about that young person who is facing stigmatization and discrimination at home and at school, and they may attempt suicide because society has told them that they’re worthless.”

David continued: “I’m concerned about a population that has already been victimized and marginalized, and how a story that is taken out of context could further victimize and marginalize this community…. Bringing a story to light about detransitioning without talking about the vast majority of people who positively transition, would cause concern because it sends a message. We need to also elevate the positive stories of people who successfully transition.”

Dr. Lee Savio Beers, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, also featured in the segment — albeit to a lesser degree than those who had detransitioned, The Advocate noted — and noted the gender-affirming healthcare, including hormone therapy, are “not experimental treatments. They’re really based in scientific literature, they’re based in decades and decades of expert experience, and they’re backed by a number of major medical organizations.”

Chase Strangio, deputy director for transgender justice with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBTQ & HIV Project, tweeted, “@60Minutes, Lesley Stahl, Alexandra Poolos, and Collette Richards knew exactly the harm they were causing with last night’s segment.”

“They knew it was the wrong moment and a dangerous, unaccountable and limited angle,” he said. “But they did it anyway. That’s on all of you.”

In a video on Instagram, transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox pointed out that gender-affirming care is “very successful” and has “been around for decades.”

Cox said that 60 Minutes seemed focused only “transition, transition, transition,” and compared the segment unfavorably to an infamous interview with Katie Couric from 2014, where Couric asked Cox about her genitalia.

“I find that fundamentally dehumanizing, and I think that what I witnessed in the 60 Minutes segment last night is that,” Cox said.

In a thread on Twitter, LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD called Stahl’s segment “fearmongering,” “poor journalism,” and “a disservice to viewers.”

“Parents of trans youth could walk away with the false belief that young people are being rushed into medical transition. That is simply untrue,” GLAAD said.

They noted that the 60 Minutes segment “also wrongfully implied that trans YouTubers and online communities which affirm trans youth are somehow brainwashing kids and turning them trans.”

“That is dangerous and at the same time ridiculous,” GLAAD said. “Aren’t we past arguing that media can turn people gay or trans?”

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