Image altered to change title on book held by California state senator
CLAIM: An image that shows California state Sen. Scott Wiener holding a book proves he grooms children for abuse.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: Altered photo. A photo posted to Wiener’s Twitter account that shows him holding a book called, “Gender Pioneers: A Celebration of Transgender, Non-Binary and Intersex Icons,” has been manipulated to change the book’s title, making it provocative.
THE FACTS: Social media users are sharing the manipulated photo as alleged proof that Wiener is a danger to children.
“Did you guys hear about @Scott_Wiener’s new book that just came out?” asks one tweet that had received more than 5,000 likes and shares as of Wednesday. It included an image of Wiener supposedly holding a book he wrote titled, “SB 107: How to Legally Kidnap Children.”
SB 107, a bill authored by Wiener, was signed into law in September 2022. It has been promoted as a way for California to provide legal refuge to displaced transgender youth and their families. Among other allowances, it authorizes courts to “take temporary jurisdiction” of a child if they have “been unable to obtain gender-affirming health care.”
“If anyone is confused about what a certified groomer looks like, here ya go,” reads another tweet, which shared a photo in which Wiener is allegedly pictured with a book titled, “Don’t Tell Mom or Dad.” Its author acknowledged in the tweet’s replies that she had been “duped,” though the tweet still garnered more than 3,000 likes and shares.
But both of these images were altered. The original photo shows Wiener at the San Francisco Public Library holding a book by transgender artist Philippa Punchard titled, “Gender Pioneers: A Celebration of Transgender, Non-Binary and Intersex Icons.” It was posted to the state senator’s Twitter feed on March 4.
“As more & more states ban books & drag queens, we’re celebrating both at San Francisco Public Library’s #NightOfIdeas,” the tweet that accompanies the photo reads.
Erik Mebust, a spokesperson for Wiener, told The Associated Press in an email that the photo “was digitally altered in an apparent attempt to incite violence against the Senator.”
He added that the posts sharing the manipulated image “play on some of the ugliest tropes against the LGBT community (and Jews, in this case)” and that “they’re attempting to use the Senator’s strong stance on LGBT youth rights to incite hatred and violence against the entire LGBT community.”
False narratives that activism and education about the LGBTQ community are intended to groom children for abuse have become widespread on social media in recent years, especially in conservative circles. The AP has previously debunked other erroneous claims that promote these fictions.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.