Media Resources

Resources for Media reporting on Trans stories and issues

Quick link: GLAAD Media Reference Guide:
http://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender

As of 2006, the Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law – long the leader on proper terminology used by news organizations – contains specific reference to reporting on transgendered people and issues. For example, The 2006 AP Stylebook now contains the following:

transgender: Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly. (Source: GLAAD)

The problem of quotation marks

The transgender community is often disrespected verbally and in print by people editorializing with quotation marks. –

Example: Christine claims she enjoys living as a "woman."

The quotations around the word woman imply the author does not necessarily agree with the subject’s use of the word woman. Quotation marks are used to set off terms and phrases in the subject’s own words, usually subject to debate.

When someone speaking puts two fingers on each hand up and scrunches them to indicate "airquotes," it’s rarely to set off a phrase in a respectful light. Instead, it usually is accompanied by arched brows and an ironic tone. That carries over into its written equivalent.

Christine claims she enjoys living as a "woman" really means Christine claims she enjoys living as a SO-CALLED "woman." The thesaurus lists as synonyms for "so-called":

quasi
would-be
spurious
ungenuine
unauthentic
counterfeit
pseudo
fake
phony
sham
mock
imitation
make-believe
bogus

Personal pronouns and names carry the same issue:

Christine claims "she" enjoys living as a woman.
"Christine" claims she enjoys living as a woman.

Wherever possible, people should ask the pronoun preference of their subject if it’s not clear and use it consistently. The sentence above is offensive for the reasons discussed earlier. Quotation marks around a name are commonly used to imply an alias made up by the subject or author. I think this greatly undermines the legitimacy of a chosen name, especially one legally changed. An article about Marilyn Monroe or Cary Grant, for instance, would not put their chosen names in quotation marks. Doing this to the names of transgendered persons is quite disrespectful.

Recommended resource

GLAAD Media Reference Guide:
http://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender

 
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