We Don't Hire Your Kind: The Zikerria Bellamy Resource Kit
Media Resources for Covering Transgender Issues
Sensationalizing the gender identity of the person who has been treated unfairly is disrespectful to that individual and distracts readers from the central elements of the story. Transgender Americans deserve respect and dignity just like everyone else. Sensitivity to the victim’s chosen name – which may be different from the victim's birth name – and preferred pronouns are essential to fair, accurate, and inclusive coverage. Sensationalizing the victim’s gender identity can send a message that transgender people deserve the very unfair treatment that is being reported in the media piece.
Discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is often inadequately reported in the media. Media are responsible for accurate and inclusive coverage, including news reports of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
The following guidelines will assist you as you write stories about transgender people. Issues surrounding the coverage of transgender people can be complex and sensitive — the utmost care should be taken to avoid defamatory or offensive language in your coverage.
Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Transgender people may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.
Gender identity is one’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or a boy or girl). For some transgender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own internal sense of gender identity do not match.
Sexual orientation describes an individual’s physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to another person. Sexual orientation is not the same as gender identity or expression. Transgender people can be heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Transition is a period of time for a transgender person that includes some or all of the following cultural, legal and medical adjustments: telling family, friends and/or co-workers about one’s transgender status; changing one’s name and/or gender marker on legal documents such as a driver’s license or birth certificate; hormone therapy; and some form of surgery.
Transgender glossary of terms: See GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide section devoted to transgender-specific terminology.