trans rights

Justin Starr Photography / (Licensed) Alex Dalbey

The Economist faces blowback for asking if trans people should be sterilized

The publication has since apologized.


Alex Dalbey


Posted on Mar 21, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 4:36 pm CDT

The Economist has issued an apology after receiving heavy criticism for a tweet that asked: “Should transgender people be sterilised before they are recognised?”

The now-deleted tweet was, as they say, ratioed hard. It linked to an Economist article about the sterilization of transgender people in Japan, but the idea that a major international publication would frame the sterilization of a marginalized group, especially one as frequently attacked as trans people, as a debate was deeply disturbing to many.

Trans model Munroe Bergdorf posted a screen cap of the tweet and expressed her shock and dismay. “I can’t believe how every day it these conversations go from bad to worse,” she wrote on Twitter. “I can’t understand how one can look at this and not see the parallels of Nazi eugenics within this headline.”

Diana Tourjee, a journalist for Broadly, said of the tweet, “Trans people are regarded as animal, and we are meant to accept this as critical discourse, lest be accused of silencing free speech.” She then gave examples of other “discourse” in the same vein.

After deleting the original tweet, the Economist addressed the controversy saying the original tweet “mischaracterised our article on transgender rights in Japan.”

“The article explores in detail a question that was put to Japan’s Supreme Court. Our tweets often use a line from the articles they link to,” the publication explained. “We were wrong to use the first line of this article out of its context. Sorry.” In the context of the article, the question is followed with, “Earlier this year Japan’s Supreme Court decided that the answer is yes.”

Many people in the replies, however, felt that the question was too sinister to have been a simple mistake.

Whether a scary mistake or a transphobic dog whistle, the effect is the same: The question has been given more power in public discourse.


H/T PinkNews

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*First Published: Mar 21, 2019, 9:50 am CDT