locker rooms

Unorthodox trans story in New York Times: Voices on both sides get to share their views

Unorthodox trans story in New York Times: Voices on both sides get to share their views

What we have here is a New York Times story that would appear to fit perfectly under the umbrella of "Kellerism," the emerging journalism doctrine (click here and here for background) stating that there is no need for balance and fairness on many moral and religious issues because the Times already knows who is right.

The headline on this story from Illinois puts it right in the middle of one of America's hottest clashes between the Sexual Revolution and heartland values: "A Transgender Student Won Her Battle. Now It’s War."

It appears that the goal of this story, however, was to let readers actually hear the voices of ordinary people on both sides of this debate. That's different than the new mainstream-media normal in which the hero or heroine gets to narrate the story and then the opposition appears via one quote from a press release or an appointed lawyer. The key is that only one side sounds human.

But the Times team -- to its credit -- took another approach this time. Here is the rather standard overture:

PALATINE, Ill. -- Tall and sylphlike, an athlete with delicate features and a blond topknot, she changes clothes behind a privacy curtain in the girls’ locker room at her high school. But just being allowed to set foot in that locker room was a huge victory for the girl. She is transgender.
She graduates in May -- but the war over how to accommodate transgender students is far from over in her Chicago suburb.
A new legal challenge is making its way through the courts. And a coalition of insurgent school board candidates, an evangelical church and conservative parents are looking to reshape district policy. The goal: preventing transgender girls and boys from sharing the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice with other girls and boys, on the grounds that they are “the opposite biological sex.” Their presence, the opponents argue, violates community standards of decency.

Yes, the basic DNA issue is treated with scare quotes. However, note the passing reference to the evangelical church that is involved in this debate.

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