Respect Equality

TV news spent a total of 43 minutes covering anti-trans violence in 2021: report

Coverage in 2021 – categorized by the Human Rights Campaign as the deadliest year on record for transgender and nonbinary people – declined about 20 percent over 2020, according to new research from Media Matters for America.
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Story at a glance

  • Just 19 television news segments last year addressed anti-transgender violence for a total of 43 minutes, according to a report published Tuesday by the left-leaning media watchdog group Media Matters for America.

  • More than two-thirds of coverage in 2021 came from reporters at MSNBC, according to the report. Roughly a third of all reporting occurred during LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June.

  • The Human Rights Campaign last year identified 57 transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming individuals that were killed in the U.S. in 2021, marking the deadliest year on record.

Over the span of a year named by the Human Rights Campaign as the deadliest year ever recorded for transgender and nonbinary Americans, television news networks in 2021 dedicated less than one hour of coverage to violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people, according to new research from Media Matters for America, a left-leaning media watchdog group.

Just 19 television news segments last year addressed anti-transgender violence for a total of 43 minutes of coverage, according to the report, which analyzed broadcast news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as cable news coverage on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. That’s down about 20 percent over 2020, when networks spent a total of 54 minutes covering violence against transgender people.

More than two-thirds of coverage in 2021 — 29 minutes — came from reporters at MSNBC, according to the report published Tuesday, while every other network spent five minutes or less covering anti-transgender violence.

The HRC last year identified 57 transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming individuals that were killed in the U.S. in 2021, marking the deadliest year on record. But as the Media Matters report acknowledges, in addition to lethal attacks, transgender people also face elevated rates of violence, sexual assault and harassment.


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According to a Williams Institute report published last year, transgender people are more than four times as likely as cisgender people to experience violent victimization.

In total, cable news networks in 2021 spent 35 minutes covering violence against transgender people, according to the report, which reviewed daily news programming between 6 a.m. and midnight from Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2021.

CNN dedicated three segments to anti-transgender violence for a total of four minutes, and Fox News covered the topic for two minutes last year across two segments.

Meanwhile, morning and evening broadcast news shows spent just nine minutes covering anti-transgender violence last year.

Roughly a third of all reporting occurred during LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June.

Separate from time spent covering the issue, the quality of reporting on violence against transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people varied greatly across networks, according to the report, which found that just seven news segments last year featured a transgender or gender-nonconforming guest.

Only four segments — two from MSNBC and one each from CBS and CNN — said the name of a transgender person who was killed last year, according to the report. While reporting on the death of 17-year-old Nikki Kuhnhausen, the CBS reporter deadnamed Kuhnhausen.

According to an HRC report published late last year, transgender victims in roughly 80 percent of fatalities reported since 2013 were initially misgendered by media or law enforcement.

“It is paramount that broadcast and cable networks produce accurate coverage about the record levels of anti-trans violence — and that coverage must actually feature trans voices,” Media Matters researchers wrote in the report.

“Corporate TV news networks have clearly demonstrated that they have the capacity to cover anti-trans violence but continuously choose to ignore the subject,” researchers wrote. “Each network has a responsibility to inform their viewers with accurate coverage and finally improve this woeful dearth of reporting.”