NPR Releases 2016 Staff Diversity Numbers

National Public Radio (NPR) Logo (NPR)

National Public Radio (NPR) Logo (NPR)

In April, National Public Radio (known colloquially as NPR) released its staff diversity data for 2016. Here were the main findings for that year:

According to NPR’s human resources department, of the 350 employees in the news division as of Oct. 31, 2016, 75.4 percent were white. Asians made up 8.3 percent of the staff, followed by blacks or African-Americans (8.0 percent), Hispanics or Latinos (5.4 percent), those who identified as two or more races or ethnic identities (2.6 percent) and American Indian (0.3 percent).

NPR has been tracking this data since 2012, and it’s interesting to see how the numbers fare on a long-term basis. Spoiler alert: they pretty much flatlined. This falls in line with long-term newsroom diversity trends. Per the American Society of News Editors (ASNE): “In 2016, minorities comprised about 17 percent of employees at daily newspapers and 23 percent at online-only sites.” Pretty bad.

Here’s where NPR falls in comparison to other media:

NPR is behind The Washington Post (31 percent diverse) and The Los Angeles Times (34 percent). At 25 percent diverse, NPR is just above The New York Times newsroom, which is about 22 percent diverse.

Newsroom diversity has become part of a larger conversation regarding workplace, and companies publicly releasing they diversity data. But some newsrooms are refusing to disclose their data. The ASNE reported that 737 newsrooms responded with data for the 2016 survey. That’s out of 1.7K+ newsrooms contacted, making a 42%+ response rate.


How Many People Support North Carolina’s HB2 Law?

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (Instinct Magazine)

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Raleigh, N.C. In one of his first acts as governor, McCrory issued an executive order to repeal the nonpartisan judicial nominating commission established by former Gov. Bev Perdue. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Takaaki Iwabu)

The outcry against North Carolina’s HB2 law, also known as the famously-derided “bathroom bill,” has been swift and fierce. But can we measure the reaction? And is it representative of the whole?

Fortunately, a recent poll provides some insight. CNN and ORC International polled 1K+ adults via phone (both landlines and cells), and asked those surveyed about North Carolina’s new law. Respondents also could self-identify as Democrat, Republican, or Independent. As the study notes, the sample was weighted to resemble the country as a whole.

When asked about equal protections for transpeople, 75% of respondents “favor law guaranteeing equal protection.” For equal protections for gays and lesbians, that number rose slightly to 80%.

Now, one might be tempted to correlate the former stat with the rise of transgender visibility in mainstream society. But that’s not the case. Respondents were also asked if they had a close family member or friend who’s transgender, and 80% did not. That’s huge! Things really are changing.

The U.S. Department of Justice Sues North Carolina over Controversial LGBT Law

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (WCNC)

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (WCNC)

The federal government has spoken, and it is not happy. Yesterday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued the state of North Carolina over its controversial HB2 law.

Quick recap: the non-infamous law bars any anti-discrimination legislation against any members of the LGBT community. Also commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” the law also decrees that any transgender person must use the bathroom of their assigned sex at birth instead of the one with which they identify. (For example, a transwoman would use the men’s restroom, regardless of her physical appearance.)

But what happened first is that the DOJ (led by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was born in Greensboro, North Carolina) gave North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, a.k.a. the one who started this whole mess, until Monday morning to negate the horrid new law. And guess what McCrory didn’t do?

Instead, McCrory decided to sue the DOJ, claiming that there needs to be legislation regulating “transgender bathroom use” (??) at the national level.

So guess what the DOJ did? The DOJ sued North Carolina right back.

This wasn’t completely out of the blue. The DOJ had previously threatened legal action if HB2 wasn’t repealed. The DOJ is now suing on the grounds that the bathroom restrictions discriminate against transgender people (no shit).

I’m very interested to see how this will play out. I have no doubt that justice will prevail, and McCrory will end up on the wrong side of the law/history. But how long will it take, and what other complications could come up?


North Carolina Passes LGBT Discrimination Law

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (Instinct Magazine)

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Raleigh, N.C. In one of his first acts as governor, McCrory issued an executive order to repeal the nonpartisan judicial nominating commission established by former Gov. Bev Perdue. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Takaaki Iwabu)

North Carolina Mayor Pat McCrory has now ensured that his state has made the news recently for all the wrong reasons: On Mar. 24th, he signed House Bill 2 into law, which overrides any local government’s anti-discrimination bills that benefitted the LGBT community. (The bill was introduced by the North Carolina State Legislature, which I’ve now refer to as the NCSL.) And not only did McCrory sign this into law, he did it in just one day.

Why is this a huge deal? For one, the NCSL has now blocked a measure that the city of Charlotte (the state’s largest city and the South’s banking hub) recently brought forth which banned discrimination against the LGBT community. Where others would see progress, the NCSL saw…inappropriate public restroom use?

“The Atlantic” breaks down what exactly this new law (ick!) entails:

It also prevents any local governments from passing their own non-discrimination ordinances, mandates that students in the state’s schools use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate, and prevents cities from enacting minimum wages higher than the state’s.

Seriously, this new law is all kinds of trouble. But what really gets me is the notion of forcing transgender students to use the restrooms of the gender for which they were assigned at birth. The NCSL is perpetuating the myth that transpeople are pedophiles, and will follow children into public restrooms to ensure vulnerability. I don’t have to tell you how insane that is, do I?

McCrory’s also sending a statement that the capricious whims of the state government will rule any actions local governments make to better their own communities.

This measure will go into effect on Apr. 1st.

Real talk here: I’m from North Carolina. I haven’t lived there in years, but my parents and much of my extended family still resides there. I love going back to visit, but wouldn’t want to live back there again for various reasons. And this new law has given me yet another reason not to go back.

If North Carolina really wants to show that the state, and its residents, are progressive and accepting of all, the NCSL and Pat McCrory really need to turn this ship around, and fast. (I mean, damn, Charlotte’s newspaper “The Charlotte Observer” just published an op-ed putting McCrory in the ranks of other Southern governors that proved to be on the wrong side of history.)

I’m aware of how Southerners are portrayed and thought of outside the bounds of the South (and have even been the victim of these stereotypes sometimes), and right now, North Carolina is looking like a right bumpkin. And not a cute one. Instead of the little cousin who’s endearingly behind the times due to her own innocent ignorance, the Old North State has progressed (ha!) to being the willfully racist hick uncle everyone just grits their teeth and bears at the best of times.

I used to be proud of where I’m from. But this latest idiocy is making it real hard to be.

How Common are Transgender Siblings?

Lana Wachowski (Slate)

Lana Wachowski (Slate)

The Wachowski brothers are now the Wachowski sisters.

The directing duo, known for 1999’s “The Matrix” and 2015’s “Jupiter Ascending, have each gone through their own transitions to become transwomen. Lana (formerly known as Larry) began her transition in 2012, and Lilly (formerly known as Andy) was recently reported to have been transitioning.

This high-profile occurrence begs the question: How common are transgender siblings?

I wasn’t able to find any hard data on this. My guess is that it’s pretty rare, so there probably haven’t been any studies devoted to it. There are some numbers around twins transitioning (both identical and fraternal pairs), but that wouldn’t apply to the Wachowskis. But when and/or if the scientific community gets around to studying this phenomenon, I’ll be curious to see the numbers.




Lilly Wachowski Comes Out as a Transwoman

Lilly Wachowski (Slashfilm)

Lilly Wachowski (Slashfilm)

Earlier this month, another transwoman made her debut: Lilly Wachowski, formerly known as Andy Wachowski. Her debut comes four years after her brother Larry (now known as Lana) began her transition.

The Wachowskis are high-profile directors who debuted with “The Matrix” in 1999.

The White House Hires Its First Transgender Staffer

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan (ABC News)

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan (ABC News)

Last week, the Obama administration made a historic hiring: Raffi Freedman-Gurspan is the first transgender person hired to serve the White House. She’s not only the first transgender person, but also the first transwoman.

Freedman-Gurspan comes with a lot of experience to her new role: She had previously served as policy adviser at the National Center for Transgender Equality, and will be the recruitment and outreach director on Obama’s staff.

While the administration has hired other transgender people to other government agencies, this is the first time a transgender person will work directly with the White House.

The hiring indicates that President Obama is becoming more comfortable in openly supporting the LGBT community: Earlier this year, he spoke out about ending conversion therapy for LGBT youth.


“I Am Cait” Wins Big in Overnight Ratings

Caitlyn Jenner in 'I Am Cait' (New York Daily News)

Caitlyn Jenner in ‘I Am Cait’ (New York Daily News)

Last night, “I Am Cait” premiered on the E! network. The eight-part docuseries follows Caitlyn (born Bruce) Jenner as she transitions from a man to a woman, and how that changes affects her relationships with family and friends. The series was announced right after Jenner’s groundbreaking “20/20” interview with Diane Sawyer in which she revealed she’d be transitioning.

With the overnight ratings in, the premiere garnered a 2.1 household rating within Nielsen’s 56 metered markets. It tied with TNT’s “Falling Skies” for the most-watched cable program of the night. Prior similar ratings points to this share being equivalent to about 3M viewers.

These ratings suggest that the interest in Jenner’s story is there, and substantial. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how these ratings progress on a weekly basis.


Siri Corrects Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner

Siri's response to Bruce Jenner questions (Daviesha/Last November 4 Tumblr)

Siri’s response to Bruce Jenner questions (Daviesha/Last November 4 Tumblr)

Happy Friday! Here’s a great example of how technology is adapting to the changing times. Tumblr user Daviesha found that Apple iPhone’s Siri corrects the name of Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner. Daviesha asked Siri, “how tall is Bruce Jenner?” and “What is Bruce Jenner’s real name?” You can see the results in the screenshot above.

This aspect of Siri began gaining attention earlier this month. Jenner came out as a transwoman in April of this year, and debuted her new name and look on the cover of “Vanity Fair” in the publication’s June issue. She recently received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during the ESPYs this year, and her docuseries “I Am Cait” premieres Sunday night on E! (home to the Kardashian empire).

It’s fantastic that it took Apple absolutely no time to adjust Siri to account for this momentous event. After all, Jenner is now the most recognizable trans person in the world right now. The tech giant is showing they’re capable to changing as societal mores do, and updating their technology to reflect those changes.

Transgender People May Soon Serve in the Military

Soldiers (US Army)

Soldiers (US Army)

According to reports, the Pentagon is very close to lifting a ban on transgender people serving in the military. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is in the midst of creating a task force that will examine how allowing transgender people to serve their country will affect every aspect of the service. The task force will take about six months to completely analyze what changes are needed.

Thankfully, it doesn’t sound like Ash would ever decide to keep the ban in place: He’s already denounced the policy as “outdated” and “caus[es] uncertainty that distracts commanders from their core missions.” Sounds to me like he’s already made up his mind to do so (yay!); he just needs a roadmap to implement the necessary changes.

From the Department of Defense’s press release, Ash seems like a guy who gets it:

At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite. Moreover, we have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.

I’m looking forward to seeing how accommodating the military is willing towards transmen and transwomen interested in serving their country to be in the near future.