The Simpsonian needs to live up to its legacy


by Ryan Magalhaes, Staff Reporter

The Simpsonian is the nation’s oldest continuously published newspaper. Since 1870, it has been published to the Simpson community.

Unknown hundreds, potentially thousands of reporters and editors have helped to continue The Simpsonian’s legacy through pandemics, world wars and economic crises.

The weight of history is heavy upon all of those who write for The Simpsonian; staff reporters, guest contributors and all. 

It is my opinion that we need to do better at carrying it.

Last year, when Kim Reynolds changed Iowa law to remove trans women from women’s sports, The Simpsonian sought to get students’ reactions.

If you’re curious to read the article, the title is “Student-athletes react to Kim Reynolds’ latest legislation”. 

The story has a total of six quoted sources. Only two are Simpson students, neither of whom are transgender. The article has a single paragraph discussing the potential biological advantage trans women have.

This might not seem immediately problematic, but consider if a story was written about changes to Simpson’s football field. For the story, only two Simpson students were interviewed, and neither of them were athletes.

If that story were written, you would be justifiably confused and if you were an athlete, you might even be upset, especially if you felt the changes to the field would negatively impact you.

Simpson PRIDE called the article transphobic and asked that it be taken down. One of The Simpsonian’s staff reporters, Mo Marks, also spoke to the editors requesting for it to be taken down.

The response to this was disappointing to be generous. The article was never corrected and can still be found on the Simpsonian website. 

This article was not intended to be transphobic, there was no ill intent by the writer or editors of The Simpsonian at the time. The decisions on who to quote were understandable, but harm was created.

The story was incomplete; it was missing key perspectives. Whether the ban is a good or bad thing, (it’s a bad thing) failing to get the perspective of the group primarily affected by it was underdeveloped and harmful reporting.

We need to ensure that trans people are given an opportunity to share their voices. 

So far in 2023, there have been 375 anti-trans bills in state legislatures. 10 of them are still in the Iowa legislature. Brianna Ghey, a transgender girl in England, was stabbed to death just over ten days ago.

The campaign against trans people is brutal and deadly.

Journalism should be unbiased. Unbiased reporting means being truthful, NOT being passive and uncritical of harmful actions. Being fair to this ban doesn’t mean talking about it like another innocuous change to state-level policy.

Because it’s not another innocuous change to state-level policy. It is a part of the campaign to remove trans people, particularly trans women, from the public space. 

The Simpsonian has realized that not including trans voices in the article was a mistake. Besides the publishing of this opinion piece, it is also working on a policy for taking down or changing articles.

The Simpsonian plans to cover more trans legislation in the future with an emphasis on giving voice to the trans community, to recognize the importance of trans rights.