Jun 17, 2019

Exclusive: Using data to track transphobia in media

Producer, activist and writer Andrea James. Screenshot via Kickstarter

Rather than react one story at a time to negative media coverage of the transgender community, producer, activist and writer Andrea James wants to map out the bias, in hopes of eventually eliminating it.

What's new: For the past year, James has been working on a data visualization project tracing connecting threads and shared sources in biased coverage. On Monday, James is going public with the effort, called The Transphobia Project, and launching a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of being able to fully fund the effort.

  • "I'm hoping some people will see this, get excited and want to join," James tells Axios.
  • Such an endeavor is inherently subjective and James doubts her tool will get everything right. But, she said, the goal is to "get people to think about this in a different way and to start holding people accountable in a way they haven't in the past."
  • And, she adds, "It's going to freak some people out."

The backstory: James said she was spurred to action by a cover story last year in The Atlantic that suggested there isn't clear evidence whether it is better to support or reject trans youths' gender identities. (There is scientific consensus that affirming health care improves the wellbeing and reduces the likelihood of suicide for transgender youth.)

What's next: James hopes to have the tool and initial research ready by the summer of 2020, with the goal of creating something that would be useful for spotting all manner of bias.

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