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Conservative misinformation watchdog Media Matters has slammed Fox News for its “obsession” with transgender student athletes.
The nonprofit organization found that Fox News aired more discussions about trans athletes in the first quarter of 2021 than in the previous two years combined — 72 between January and March of this year, 126 total since 2019.
Fox News’ anchors, hosts, and guests have also made passing mentions of trans athletes at least 58 times in that time.
But Media Matters also found that despite the network’s focus on trans athletes, Fox News only offered nine transgender athletes as examples — one of whom couldn’t even compete and none of whom dominated in their respective sports, as conservatives have claimed.
Fox News repeatedly cited the two trans athletes at the center of a recently dismissed lawsuit targeting Connecticut’s pro-trans athlete policy. Both of the women have since graduated from high school, removing the alleged “harms” claimed by the plaintiffs in the case.
The lawsuit was brought by right-wing anti-LGBTQ organization Alliance Defending Freedom, and Media Matters found that Fox News has featured the recognized hate group in 34 discussions on trans student athletes.
Media Matters also drew a link between Fox News’ increased discussion of trans athletes and Republican-sponsored bills seeking to ban trans athletes from competing in sports that are appearing in states across the country.
“Fox’s obsession with trans athletes is a key component of the right’s vitriolic campaign to make them into a political and cultural wedge issue while putting trans kids and families in danger in the process,” Media Matters said.
They suggested that Fox News’ “obsessive coverage of trans athletes illustrates how anti-LGBTQ ideologies are spread through a predictable pipeline, in which anti-LGBTQ groups can push an agenda that is picked up by right-wing media and finally proposed as harmful policies by conservative lawmakers.”
West Virginia recently became the latest state to approve a ban on transgender athletes competing in accordance with their gender identity.
A similar measure failed in Kansas this week after Republicans couldn’t muster enough votes to override a veto by the state’s Democratic governor.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tucker Carlson Tonight aired the most discussions of trans student athletes — 27 out of the 126 aired by Fox News.
Last month, Carlson devoted multiple segments to attacking transgender people, including calling the trans community a threat to the “perpetuation of the species.”
Carlson also claimed that providing transgender youth with access to gender-affirming health care increases their risk of suicidal ideation, and called hormone therapy “chemical castration.”
It continues a pattern of anti-transgender rhetoric by Carlson, after he last year called trans youth “grotesque” and a “nationwide epidemic.”
Media Matters previously found that Fox News has repeatedly enabled anti-trans misinformation since President Biden took office in January.
The network aired multiple segments that “fearmongered about trans athletes and lied about best practice health care for trans youth,” while Fox News anchors, hosts, and guests described transgender issues critically or branded them “extreme Democratic policies.”
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