The best thing about diversifying a newsroom staff is that the range of relevant events, histories, vocabularies, and concerns increases exponentially. There’s just so much more news!
The worst thing, however, is that the concerns that arise become harder to view from a distance. Unionization efforts, property tax assessment discrepancies, sexual harassment, and antiblack violence feel more pressing when the woman you sit next to has experienced similar, the sales team is tweeting about them, or they come up in an editorial meeting—not as story ideas, but as personal narratives, glimpses into coworkers’ lives.
Not that empathy is a bad thing, of course, it’s just that sometimes making a genuine effort to comprehend the experiences of others hurts. The memo leaked to the New York Times from the Department of Health and Human Services that seeks to define gender as “biological,” “objective,” and “administrable” just hurts. Administrable! The word fills me with rage on a good day. When applied to one’s identity, it also terrifies.
There are some—on staff, among friends, and in this great, diverse city—who are not new to the rage or the terror. Trans folk, nonbinary people, intersex persons. While these changes to Title IX would reverse improvements made at the institutional level—would gender-neutral restrooms that have doubled bathroom access for folks with disabilities be reabolished?—and provide a policy cover for the discrimination against trans people that is already rampant, intersex people seem particularly vulnerable. Many already rely on hormone replacement, an ongoing side effect of medically unnecessary surgeries performed in their earliest days. Will the proposed Trump administration changes deny them going forward?
Intersex Awareness Day is October 26, local activist Pidgeon Pagonis of the Intersex Justice Project tells me. Watch for actions around the city. There’s a stunning comics feature in this week’s issue by Marina Labarthe del Solar on trans bodies that may aid your own genuine efforts to comprehend the experiences of folks whose lives are different from your own. There’s also our stunning cover interview with the brilliant Eve Ewing, who asks us to consider school closures from the perspectives of our city’s most vulnerable young people. Listening to such stories might hurt, but they will also expand your whole world.