Misery narratives sell copy. Just like outrage narratives drive social media traffic.

I think journalists and other writers often fall into the trap of equating success with readership metrics. In some ways that is a very easy trap to fall into. As writers, we obviously all want our words to have an impact and to reach people.

Publications want to be financially successful.

But when we drive these kind of narratives that are not accurate, when we lose sight of the bigger picture, we aren’t serving our readers.

When the Times publishes something edgy, they know it’s going to be more highly read. They are looking for a hook.

Looking for hooks is great, being interesting and novel is important — right up until it leads us over the cliff edge of being wrong.

I don’t want to present myself as any kind of trans expert, because I am a cis gay man. But I have known a hell of a lot of trans people in my life, and as regular LGBTQ writer, I have immersed myself in a lot of studies and statistics.

I know the misery narrative does not reflect most of the trans people I know or most of the data that I know about.

I know that pushing that narrative means being inaccurate and doing a disservice to the truth, unless the joy narrative predominates.

Thanks for clearly pointing out how this works. I hope we can all be vigilant about painting the broader picture as accurately as possible.

Written by

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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