The (Belated) Weekend Catch-Up: Local SF Publications Take on NYT’s Anti-Trans Language

Plus: An SF crab destination shuttered and one of Oakland’s most significant Black churches suffered massive damage from a three-alarm fire.

J.K. Rowling — the best-selling author most well-known for creating the Harry Potter series of books and screenplays, which have evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry — began putting her foot in her mouth regarding anti-trans language about two years ago. Though her anti-trans stances had been circulating since 2016, Rowling cemented her affinity for anti-trans language in 2020 with a series of tweets, delegitimizing trans people — particularly trans women.

“If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction,” the author writes in a series of tweets published in June of 2020 — words released during Pride month, no less. “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”

Last week, the New York Times released an appalling opinion piece: In Defense of J.K. Rowling. The piece is appalling; the very idea and approval of such an op-ed is worrisome. It serves as fuel for anti-trans rhetoric and perspectives. And it’s only made worse because The New York Times isn’t a fringe website or a dot-net blog. It’s one of the most-read publications in the world — one with nearly 9 million digital subscribers.

Pieces in the New York Times have the cultural cache and, ostensibly, have an air of legitimacy, given the newspaper’s editorial prowess and standards. This piece by Pamela Paul, however, is void of the latter two characters, and simply; Paul used her op-ed to highlight Megan Phelps-Roper, a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church, who’s been a vocal supporter of Rowling’s language that opts to separate biological women and trans-women, as well as their experiences.

It’s a deplorable move from the 172-year-old publication. And one that local publications like the San Francisco Chronicle and 48hills have denounced — we, too, would like to use this opportunity to denounce.

“There is no such thing as ‘objectivity’ when it comes to human rights,” writes 48hills editor Tim Redmond. “There are no ‘two sides’  to the story about the right of trans people to exist, to live in our society, to be themselves.”

Similarly, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Soleil Hoi writes that the Times “continues to point a magnifying glass at a tiny minority of a tiny minority,” which is “helping to manufacture a crisis and embolden those who want to legislate trans people back into the closet.”

Words matter, especially those from prominent publications with a history of influence. Shame on you, New York Times. May your digital subscriber figure now trend south.

What else happened over the weekend? Here’s a bit of a catch-up.

  • Bird scooters are leaving San Francisco (thank God). While it’s a massive blow to micro-mobility around SF, at least theoretically speaking, there will be fewer sidewalk scooters to look out for while walking around the city. More info.
  • Oakland’s First Methodist African Church caught fire Sunday. The historic church is absolutely gutted; the Oakland Fire Department has since reported that the fire was contained to the “structure of origin” and that no injuries were reported. More info.
  • A person was egged on an SF muni bus. The phone footage was released over the weekend by rider Michelle Young, who video the man in a striped hoodie started yelling anti-Chinese slurs at her and another woman next to her — before hurling eggs; “We are committed to doing everything we can to stop the racist attacks on the AAPI community that have been on the increase over the past few years,” writes SFMTA on Twitter. More info. 
  • PQ Dungeness Island in San Francisco shuttered on February 20. But… the beloved crab institution is moving and reopening at 5821 Geary Boulevard in just a few weeks.

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