Student newspaper apologizes for asking 'transphobic' debate question

The GW Hatchet apologized for asking a question about transgender athletes during a moderated debate between the College Republicans and the College Democrats.

The news room committed to completed a series of diversity, equity and inclusion workshops.

The George Washington University (GWU) student newspaper The GW Hatchet apologized for asking a question about transgender athletes during a Nov. 2 debate it moderated between the College Republicans and College Democrats.

“At The Hatchet, our mission is to serve every member of the GW community not only with fairness, but also with sensitivity and awareness through our coverage,” a statement from the Editor-in-Chief desk read. “Whenever we fail in that mission, it is our job to address our shortcomings, own up to any harm or negative impact on the community, hold ourselves accountable and commit to betterment.”

[Related: Student paper apologizes for publishing column critical of ‘inappropriate sexual events’]

“Last week, The Hatchet asked a question at a public debate on campus that was inappropriate and harmful. We sincerely apologize for the question and the harm it created,” it continued.

The question, “Why do conservatives equate the inclusion of transgender female athletes as an attack on women’s sports?,” prompted backlash from a Twitter user, known as Lauren, who attacked the paper’s “journalistic integrity.”

There is no journalistic integrity in asking about a trans woman’s experience with puberty, arguing about it, and heightening the firestorm around it at a moment when trans people are experiencing higher rates of violence and murder,” the user wrote.

Lauren declined to comment.

The GW Hatchet’s statement claimed the question was meant to “hold one side accountable” for restricting transgender athletes’ eligibility to compete as their gender identity. 

However, it claimed the question instead “was phrased in a way that invited the opportunity for transphobic rhetoric to be the topic of conversation in a debate, when we know for a fact that trans women are women, and that fact is not up for debate.”

The statement also included an apology for how the moderator introduced the question, in which the person stated the question would “step on another political landmine.”

“We were taken aback and disappointed by this insensitive comment,” the statement read. “It was uncalled for, placed a satirical filter over such a serious, sensitive topic and heightened the harm of an already-inappropriate question.”

[RELATED: Student paper apologizes for printing photo of Charles Murray]

In addition to the apology, The GW Hatchet attempted to make amends by promising to cover the university’s Transgender Awareness Week, which was held Nov. 12-19. The news team also underwent mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion workshops.

Ezra Meyer, GW College Republicans Chairman, provided Campus Reform with the group’s statement which read:

 “In The Hatchet’s attempt to apologize, they throw our organization and our debaters under the bus. At no point did our debaters engage in ‘transphobic rhetoric’ or say anything to ‘harm members of our community.’ Our debaters shared legitimate viewpoints. The Democratic debaters made points that run contrary to ours. That is totally fine. That is the point of debate and discourse.” 

The statement also criticized The GW Hatchet for ignoring public opinion on transgenderism. 

“In their quest for inclusivity, The Hatchet has inherently excluded and delegitimized what are still mainstream views for nearly two thirds (63%) of this country, including nearly half (41%) of all Democrats.” 

Campus Reform reported on recent polls that show a majority of Americans support restricting athletic eligibility to biological sex. A September poll found that voters were less likely to support a political candidate who permitted biological men to compete in women’s sports.

All other parties mentioned in this story have been contacted for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.