The Best LGBTQ Reporting of 2019

Despite Trump's repeated attacks against LGBTQ Americans, queer journalists delivered some of their most powerful storytelling to date.

While the Trump administration unleashed an avalanche of attacks against LGBTQ people Americans in 2019, queer journalists feverishly produced some of the most impactful reporting on the community to date. They took us into ICE detention centers where transgender women face life-threatening conditions. They walked us through TSA scanners, where nonbinary people are invasively searched. They showed us how the death of a trans woman in jail can tear at her family. In every instance, these stories made us more human.

With a plethora of headlines cluttering our time lines at any given moment, it’s easy to miss poignant, vital reporting as it goes live. We’ve already highlighted NewNowNext’s best reporting and features this year, but here we turn our gaze to our favorite LGBTQ stories that were published elsewhere. We’ve listed them in no particular order, but all of them have stayed with us.

  1. “When Transgender Travelers Walk Into Scanners, Invasive Searches Sometimes Wait on the Other Side”

    Joe Raedle/Getty Images

    By Lucas Waldron and Brenda Medina, ProPublica

    ProPublica’s deep dive into the traumatic searches transgender people face when flying is a heart-stopping look at the toll that TSA’s security measures have on trans and nonbinary travelers. The story expertly weaves data with personal narratives, making for some of this year’s finest reporting anywhere.

  2. “The Harrowing, Two-Year Detention of a Transgender Asylum Seeker”


    By Murat Oztaskin, The New Yorker

    The New Yorker’s profile of transgender asylum-seeker Alejandra Barrera details the extraordinary challenges faced by transgender people in ICE detention—including denial of medical attention while Barrera combats a life-threatening illness.

  3. The View From Somewhere Podcast

    By Lewis Raven Wallace, Distributed by Critical Frequency

    In 2017, NPR’s Marketplace fired its only transgender reporter Lewis Wallace because he published a post on his Medium page declaring journalistic objectivity dead in wake of Trump’s inauguration. Instead of stepping out of the game, Wallace took his exceptional reporting skills elsewhere and made one of the year’s best podcasts. The View from Somewhere unravels the biggest headlines in recent history, and examines how a reporter’s identity—including Wallace’s own—shapes the stories they take on. Because Wallace is an NPR veteran, each episode is beautifully produced and deeply engaging, with interviews from some of the top names in news.

  4. “What the battle over a 7-year-old trans girl could mean for families nationwide”

    Violetta Smoliankina

    By Katelyn Burns, Vox

    Media outlets across the nation covered the battle over a 7-year-old girl’s gender transition in Texas, but none with such agonizing accuracy and depth as trans reporter Katelyn Burns did in this riveting piece for Vox.

  5. “More than 7,000 Americans have gender X IDs, a victory for transgender rights. Is it a safety risk, too?”


    By Kristin Lam, USA Today

    USA Today’s data-heavy look at nonbinary IDs uncovers some of the first numbers on these identification documents as states across the nation begin adopting “X” gender markers. The story goes a step further by exploring the growing pains of the IDs, centering trans people in that narrative.

  6. “Layleen Cubilette-Polanco Died in the System, but Her Fight Lives On”

    By Raquel Willis, Out magazine

    The scandal of trans woman Layleen Polanco’s death in solitary confinement at Rikers Island shook the nation. When the headlines changed, many moved on. But Out executive editor Raquel Willis takes readers far beyond the extreme events of Polanco’s death and into her family’s home on what would have been Polanco’s birthday for a quiet, uneasy feature that will sit with you well after you finish reading.

  7. Boys Don’t Cry 20 Years Later: For Trans Men, a Divisive Legacy”

    Getty Images / Handout

    By Trish Bendix,The New York Times

    Twenty years after Boys Don’t Cry first polarized and captivated trans viewers, Trish Bendix tracked down director Kim Pierce, GLAAD’s Nick Adams, and trans writer Kate Bornstein for a candid revisitation on how the film has aged. The piece reveals as much about the state of transgender men in media today as it does about the decades-old movie.

  8. “In Montgomery, Alabama, a Stonewall Rebellion That Didn’t Make LGBT Headlines”


    By Nico Lang, The Daily Beast

    Sometimes the most important kind of reporting uncovers a little-known history at precisely the right moment. Nico Lang’s unexpected journey into a “Stonewall”-esque uprising in Alabama 50 years later is a beautiful celebration of Southern queer history—and was timed nicely to Stonewall50, when most reporters were digging into New York City’s famed Stonewall Uprising.

  9. “There’s something different about the public reaction to Muhlaysia Booker’s death”

    Harry Kikstra

    By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

    As Dallas, Texas, faced a crisis of transgender homicides, CNN reporter Emanuella Grinberg walked with a grieving community through the steps of burying trans homicide victim Muhlaysia Booker for a rare on-the-ground look at the aftermath of a transgender murder and a community in mourning.

  10. “Neither male nor female: Why some nonbinary people are microdosing hormones”

    Holly Falconer

    By Julie Compton, NBC

    Writing about gender and medical transition can be tricky business, but Julie Compton gets it right for a mainstream audience at NBC. Compton’s thoroughly researched piece on microdosing hormones among nonbinary people was shared widely among cisgender, transgender, and nonbinary readers in July, in part because it is accessible and new to most people. It remains one of a handful of articles from mainstream outlets on the topic.

  11. “Queer Money Matters: The economy is built for cis-het people, How do queer folks navigate it?”


    By The Nancy Podcast

    Perhaps it is astounding that it took this long, but the minds behind Nancy finally brought us a six-part look at the complexities of queerness and cash (or lack thereof). It’s full of insightful data. For instance, 52% of people who identify as queer say they have anxiety around finances.

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