The Chicago Sun-Times faced an onslaught of calls for an apology and a retraction after it re-published a National Review op-ed that LGBT advocates are calling "disgusting and transphobic."
The op-ed, written by right-leaning correspondent Kevin D. Williamson, is titled "Laverne Cox Is Not A Woman" and repeatedly misgenders the "Orange Is The New Black" actress and trans icon, who is gracing the cover of the latest TIME Magazine. It also raised offensive questions concerning Cox's anatomy.
The Sun-Times removed the op-ed from its website Tuesday afternoon without explanation, then later issued a statement and apology to BuzzFeed:
We try to present a range of views on an issue, not only those views we may agree with, but also those we don’t agree with. A recent op-ed piece we ran online that was produced by another publication initially struck as provocative.
Upon further consideration, we concluded the essay did not include some key facts and its overall tone was not consistent with what we seek to publish. The column failed to acknowledge that the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have deemed transgender-related care medically necessary for transgender people. It failed as well to acknowledge the real and undeniable pain and discrimination felt by transgender people, who suffer from notably higher rates of depression and suicide.
We have taken the post down and we apologize for the oversight.
Williamson's piece inspired a Change.org petition calling for an apology from the paper and the removal of the op-ed from the Sun-Times website. As of mid-Tuesday afternoon, it was signed over 1,800 times.
A separate petition launched by Women, Action, and the Media, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit focused on addressing gender issues in media, calls for the paper to "institute transparent new standards for covering transgender people in your pages." The letter, addressed to Sun-Times publisher and editor-in-chief Jim Kirk, has been signed 675 times.
"It is beneath any reputable national journalistic outlet to reprint such dangerous and false rhetoric," the letter reads.
GLAAD also addressed the piece and had reportedly been "in communication with the editors" of the paper.
"This ugly and insulting propaganda is dangerous to readers' understanding of who transgender people are," GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a blog post.
Meanwhile, prominent Chicago-based trans activist Jen Richards penned a response to Williamson's piece on The Daily Dot:
Williamson’s grasp of “the biological facts of life” is no different than pointing to the rising and setting of the sun as as clear evidence that the earth is the center of the universe. Transgender people aren't lies in the face of facts; we're facts that widen the truth. Williamson's audacity to determine what Cox's body means is a worse sin, and the consequences of an attitude so thoroughly rooted in self-serving prejudice are far darker. His essay eerily echoes centuries of white men telling black women what they are. All who value human agency and self-determination should be deeply disturbed by such ideas.
UPDATE: 3:15 p.m. -- GLAAD has also shared the Sun-Times' statement and said they are continuing to work with Chicago trans leaders on other responses to the controversy.
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