Twitter users have excoriated The Economist for posting a tweet that appeared to legitimize public debate over trans people’s reproductive autonomy.
The British publication’s Twitter account posted a tweet Tuesday evening that read, “Should transgender people be sterilized before they are recognized?”, which linked to a week-old article about Japan’s Supreme Court ruling that trans people in the country must undergo sex reassignment surgery before legally changing genders.
"This is our world,” tweeted Broadly journalist Diana Tourjée in response. “We make it each day through our actions and our speech. Trans people are regarded as animal, and we are meant to accept this as critical discourse, lest be accused of silencing free speech.”
“How fucking dare they?” added Media Matters editor Parker Molloy. “There is absolutely no context where that is an okay question to ask.”
The Economist deleted the tweet, noting the deletion in a follow-up post: “We deleted an earlier tweet which [mischaracterized] our article on transgender rights in Japan. Here is that article, which remains unchanged.”
In a statement to Out, Lauren Hackett, the senior vice president of global communications for The Economist Group, the London-based media company that publishes The Economist, says that the tweet’s messaging was a mistake.
“This was a line from the article that was mistakenly taken out of context,” says Hackett. “The article explores in detail a question that was put to Japan's Supreme Court. Our tweets often use a line from the articles they link to. We’ve noted the error and corrected it in subsequent tweets.”
In January, Japan’s Supreme Court voted unanimously to uphold a 2004 law requiring trans people to undergo sex reassignment surgery before changing the gender marker on all legal documents — effectively mandating sterilization for anyone wishing to legally transition.
Many countries engage in this form of trans-targeted eugenics, Broadly notes, even the United States. Many states will only let a trans person change the gender marker on their birth certificate or other legal documents after undergoing a transition-related surgery that involves a sterilizing procedure like a hysterectomy or an orchiectomy, which the United Nations' Human Rights Council has deemed “torture” since 2013.