Dear Fox News: Mrs. Doubtfire Isn’t Trans

Fox News has shown its ignorance yet again when, in a story released on Sunday about trans health care directives in Oregon and California, the only image Fox Nation editors could think to use to illustrate the article was one of the film character Mrs Doubtfire.

When Fox was considering how to cover the fact that health care regulators have, in a quiet move, directed insurance companies in both California and Oregon to ensure they are offering coverage for transition-related health care when it comes to hormone therapy, chest surgery, cancer screenings and any other treatments deemed medically necessary that are already covered for non-trans patients, it could have decided to give a bare recital of the facts, or it could have even gone so far as to note what a positive milestone this is for basic trans healthcare.

Instead, and as you can see in the screen capture, it chose to undercut the story with a cartoonish picture taken from the 1993 family comedy Mrs Doubtfire where comedian and actor Robin Williams donned an elaborate costume and posed as Regina Doubtfire, his character’s Scottish half-sister, all so that he could get close to his kids as the family’s new housekeeper now that he and his wife were divorcing and his access to the children had been severely restricted.

A moment, then, to deal with the title of the piece and its “Insist on Transgender Health Coverage,” as though to imply caring for an often disadvantaged demographic is an undue burden — Fox, you’re barely hiding your prejudice.

And now the picture. At best, it caricatures trans people as masquerading as another gender and casts them in a comedic role, belaying the seriousness of the news story Fox was covering and the important advancement toward equality in medical treatment that the story represents.

Given that the aforementioned medical procedures are often used as steps to treat gender dysphoria, and how the trans community continues to suffer a disproportionate level of poverty that acts as a barrier to them accessing the transition-related care they need, it is twice as disgusting that Fox chose a cheap laugh over serious discussion.

At worst, though, this image draws on the debasing and transphobic “man in a dress” meme that is the go-to for the Religious Right when they wish to demonize trans people in debates like those surrounding access to public accommodations or employment non-discrimination protections.

The image has since been replaced by a bland medical stock photo, but the damage has been done.

Janet Mock, editor and trans rights activist, has spoken out against Fox in rightfully blistering terms.

She is quoted as saying, “I’m in shock that the editors of Fox chose to use a photo of Robin Williams in drag as the illustration of this matter of life and death for trans people. Blurring the line between fictional comical entertainment and the real-life struggles of trans people nationally is dehumanizing and belittling. Beyond being biased, the image is problematic for a number of reasons. Trans people are not wearing a costume. Our lives and struggles are not jokes, and using such an image spreads damaging stereotypes that who we are is put on, entertainment and fictional. It’s those same misconceptions and stereotypes that allow trans people to be discriminated against when it comes to access to housing, employment and healthcare.”

A few things the travesty of a Fox article could have spelled out for its readers regarding the policy change but failed to cover include that this isn’t actually a new directive but rather a clarification of existing nondiscrimination rules to ensure that insurance companies are absolutely clear that they have to cover transition-related care. This is necessary because many insurance plans still broadly exclude transition-related health care as though it were a vanity cosmetic procedure.

Also the regulations, which took effect in September in California and December in Oregon, are not treatment specific — they don’t mandate certain procedures be covered — and they cover different segments of the population and so are not a broad answer for trans citizens requiring assistance, though they do stand to help a significant number. You can find out more about the specifics of this coverage here.

Related Reading:

You Can’t Advance Women’s Rights by Bashing Trans People

How Voter ID Laws Impact Transgender People

Oklahoma Judge: Being Transgender Is ‘Fraudulent’

Image credit: Ario.


Paul Girardin
Paul Girardin5 years ago

FOX people have never been the sharpest tools in the shed but this is downright insulting!!!

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B5 years ago

Showing their ignorance in so many ways with a very bad choice of illustration.
Lynda, I'd call Doubtfire "disguised" rather than transvestite.The book, by Anne Fine, is a bit more serious than this silly photo suggests. Can't imagine why Williams is clutching saucepan lids to his bosom like that. Echoes of Old Mother Riley.

S Young
Sara Young5 years ago

Why is anyone surprised with what Fox reports as "so called news"! It is a supermarket tabloid on steroids!!!

Beth M.
Beth M5 years ago

Don't watch FOX "news". Agree with Wim D. They proved that they didn't even watch the movie.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Good post, thanks for sharing.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.5 years ago

and it was rude.

Mary L.
Mary L5 years ago

What do you expect from Faux news? Real news? They're the National Inquirer of the air. If you see it on Faux, you know it's not so.

Ana Marija R.
ANA MARIJA R5 years ago

You cannot currently send a star to tiffany because you have done so within the last week.

Don Lukenbill
Don L5 years ago

Fox News are experts at creating their own reality. Of course, as the great American philosopher George Costanza said, "it's isn't a lie if you believe it."

Lynda Duke
Lynda Duke5 years ago

cont.... getting you off the true picture... Insurance companies argue about Fox News instead of following the money trail. FOLLOW THE MONEY! Fox News is a puppet organization - they will say anything for money. Who's paying them? The Insurance Companies! Who are they trying to get more money, much more money out of? YOU! Because they see YOU as the blind public. The insurance companies are making money hand over foot and back again and again and again. The richest corporations and of course the QUIETEST corporations are ....The Insurance Companies.

When Obama Care (Affordable Health Care) came to law....the insurance companies just sat there, while YOU worried yourself over health care - and they said - its business as usual boys. Lets write up some new formulas and charge them MORE! MORE MORE MORE! And they have.

My husbands company - bought up on Blue Cross Blue Shield....which cut our benefits in half and are charging us MORE! all may SEEM its all smoke and mirrors but get past the smoke and mirrors and you will see the real rats - THE INSURANCE COMPANIES are getting richer and richer and richer. Who owns the companies - there are Senators and Congress persons who are STOCK HOLDERS! BANKS .... take a look for yourself! FOLLOW THE MONEY!