After publishing an op-ed written by a former female high school athlete, USA Today stealth-edited the piece and apologized for describing transgender athletes as biological males.
Chelsea Mitchell, the Connecticut student who wrote the op-ed, blasted her state’s “devastating” policy forcing her to compete against transgender students, which cost her a first-place finish in several state championships.
But in an editor’s note at the top of the piece, USA Today claimed the use of the word “male” was “hurtful” and apologized to readers.
This is just asinine. The “hurtful language” used? The word MALE.
— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) May 27, 2021
“This column has been updated to reflect USA Today’s standards and style guidelines,” the editor’s note reads. “We regret that hurtful language was used.”
Now, throughout the piece, the word “male” has been replaced by “transgender.”
Mitchell said the changes were made without her knowledge.
“USA Today violated its principles to appease the mob,” Mitchell’s attorney, Christiana Holcomb, said in a statement. “This blatant censorship violates the trust we place in media to be honest brokers of public debate.”
In the original op-ed, Mitchell, who was one of several high school athletes to file a lawsuit challenging the state’s decision to allow transgender athletes to compete on the team of their choice, recalled how disheartening it was to lose to biological males.
“I’ve lost four women’s state championship titles, two all-New England awards, and numerous other spots on the podium to transgender runners,” she recalled. “I was bumped to third place in the 55-meter dash in 2019 behind two transgender runners. With every loss, it gets harder and harder to try again.”
This is not the first time USA Today has been caught stealth-editing its pieces.
After the change was discovered, USA Today apologized for not adding an editor’s note to the piece explaining the change.
“As soon as we recognized there was no editor’s note, we added it to the page to reflect her changes,” Gannett, USA Today’s parent company, said in a statement. “We have reviewed our procedures to ensure this does not occur again.”