TransLash Media founder and CEO Imara Jones received the 2023 Lisa Ben Award at NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists Convention on September 8, 2023, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Watch her remarks below.
By Daniela “Dani” Capistrano for TransLash Media
And now I’m honored to present one of our national awards, the Lisa Ben award, for the achievement in features coverage. This award is named for the pseudonym Edythe Eyd, who in the 1940s created Vice Versa, her pioneering publication about lesbians, a publication she hand delivered, so she didn’t run afoul of the law through sending such material through the mail. The recipient of this year’s Lisa Ben award is Imara Jones, whose work has won Indie and Peabody awards. She’s the creator of TransLash Media…[inaudible with applause]
Imara Jones: Good morning. I was worried that I was a little overdressed for this morning, but since this was a drag panel I had to stunt.
But in all seriousness, there’s no better honor than to receive an honor from your colleagues. Those are the awards that matter because we know the pressures of this job. We know how hard it is and we know how consequential it is. And so I just wanted to express my appreciation to each of you and to the organization for it.
I also wanted to let you all know that this award is for our work on The Anti-Trans Hate Machine, which is the investigative series podcast that is in its second season, just concluded, that has looked at in the first season the people, the money, the organizations, the billionaires, the religious ideology, and the politicians who are driving and have driven the hundreds of pieces of anti-trans legislation. Which should no surprise to each of you that that’s not an accident.
The second season focuses on us. It focuses on the way in which journalism and the good intentions that we have to be fair and equal and balanced has actually been corrupted and weaponized against our community to inject pseudoscience and hate into the pages of some of our most esteemed publications, including The New York Times.
Imara Jones: Thank you.
This morning we put out the response that The New York Times sent to our reporting to us, and we also published the 16 questions that we have of The New York Times that remain unanswered. And I want to encourage each of you to look at those and to continue to move the story forward and to see if The New York Times will respond to you, in terms of how they’ve done it and why they’ve done it. The last thing I want to say is that it is really important for us to be nonpartisan. It is important for us to be fair, but being fair doesn’t mean that we don’t come to conclusions.
I want to say that it’s really important for us to remember that there is a reason why we’re written into the Constitution. There’s a reason why we are in the First Amendment of the Constitution, and that is because we have a unique role in being guardians of democracy and that’s bigger than party, that is the essential role that we have in this country. And in this moment, who we are as people as people, as people who are trans, and people who are LGBTQ writ large, is being used as a vector point. Is being used as a way to undermine democracy and that means that we as journalists–LGBTQ journalists–have the unique responsibility in this moment to rise to this moment because the issues that we are reporting are issues of life and death for our community, and they are issues of life and death for our democracy.
Imara Jones: Thank you.
And so what each of us is called to do in this moment is to be brave. Is to do the uncomfortable. To push our editors to not say to allow us to cover what’s really happening and to not say that our very existence is political and we can’t cover that. To say why the attacks on trans people matter. To say and to name the names of the people who are driving them because they are showing up in communities all across the country posing as organic communitarian based issues and people but they’re funded by national organizations.
So for example, for those of you who cover schools, The Alliance Defending Freedom has a national program to create local ambassadors whose job it is is to create anti-trans bias in order to be able to capture and motivate elections for school boards, for example. There’s so many faces to this story and our industry is in danger.
Our jobs are in danger. Our democracy is under threat, but we’ve got two responses: that’s to cower or that’s to step up.
And so I want to urge you to continue to step up and to be brave in this moment.
Because being brave is the only way that we’ve all come to be who we are it’s the way that we come to be in this room. And it’s the only way that we’re going to survive.
Thank you all so much.
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