NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists agrees with the Baltimore Sun Guild in their call on co-owner Armstrong Williams to return to the ethical standards and practices employed by the paper prior to its recent acquisition. A free press is strongest when it is fair and accurate in its coverage.

In a recent opinion piece published in the Sun, Williams used discriminatory and outdated language in reference to transgender people. While NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists typically refrains from commenting on opinion pieces, Williams is not just a contributor. He is a co-owner and leader of the paper, and his language we are concerned his language implies that trans voices are unwelcome in the Sun. Will a trans journalist feel welcome at a paper owned by someone who has likened their existence to a cancer? Can a trans citizen of Baltimore believe their participation in the Sun’s coverage will be welcomed?

The people of Baltimore deserve a paper that fully represents their city and that can only happen with a diverse and representative newsroom: one that includes the voices and perspectives of trans people.

In his piece, Williams referred to the “transgenderism movement” and used the phrases “biological males” and “biological females” to refer to trans women and men, respectively. The use of language like “the transgenderism movement” goes against the best practices recommended by The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists (NLGJA), The Trans Journalists Association (TJA) and the Associated Press standards. Per the NLGJA Stylebook, “transgenderism” is a term that “falsely portray[s] gender identity as an ideology”. And as per the Trans Journalists Association Stylebook, politicized phrases like “biological males and females” oversimplify the factors that determine a person’s sex, and “are often used by anti-trans groups to invoke a person’s assigned sex at birth as their “real” gender, in contrast to their gender identity.”

We urge Williams and the management of the Sun to adhere to best practices recommended in industry style guides, to engage with their employees’ concerns, and to ensure that they are creating a newsroom environment that welcomes all employees and citizens.