When the Associated Press executes a complete and utter FAIL on covering a trans story, you know there's an issue. But that's what happened Monday regarding Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair cover when the AP - well - you just have to see it for yourself.
The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association quickly distributed some best practices on covering Jenner's story and that of other trans people. It's a must-read for any journalist...
The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) is made up of working journalists and media professionals. We are not an advocacy group. Our mission is to ensure fair and accurate coverage of issues that affect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities.
Today, the person we have previously known as Bruce Jenner revealed preferred pronouns, and her new name, Caitlyn. Many newsrooms have questions about how to cover people who are or may be transgender. NLGJA is here to help you ensure your coverage is not only fair, but accurate.
Here are a few tips, as well as some information from our stylebook on how to handle things such as pronouns and terminology. There's even more on our website, NLGJA.org.
1. Now that Jenner has publicly announced a gender identity, the best practice is to refer to Caitlyn Jenner by the name she announced. Example: "Today, the person we have previously known as Bruce Jenner revealed, her new name, Caitlyn, and gender in Vanity Fair magazine."
2. Transgender people should be referred to by the name and gender with which they identify. Some transgender people choose to take hormones or have medical procedures, but that's not what determines the right name and pronoun to use. It is stating one's gender identity that is what should guide word use. Jenner should be referred to as she and her. Example "Jenner is well known for her athletic accomplishments prior to transitioning, when she was known as Bruce Jenner. Jenner won a gold medal in the 1976 decathlon.
3. Because of the amount of attention and speculation prior to Jenner speaking publicly about her gender, it may be appropriate today to refer to Jenner's birth name higher up in a story, but all subsequent references should use her preferred name and pronouns. It is general best practice is to allow individuals to address their gender or sexuality on their terms.
Words matter when telling a story. Research has shown that LGBT teens and young adults have one of the highest rates of all suicide attempts. Depression and drug use among LGBT people have both been shown to increase significantly after new laws that discriminate are passed. Bullying of LGBT youth has been shown to be a contributing factor in many suicides, even if not all of the attacks have been specifically aimed at someone based on sexual orientation or gender bias. Transgender people are twice as likely to be unemployed — and four times as likely if they're a trans woman of color. Lesbians and gays outnumber trans people six to one, yet transgender people are 50 percent more likely to be murdered.
NLGJA is happy to be a professional resource for you. We offer a stylebook on common word choice and tip sheets on issues that affect our communities. You can find both at nlgja.org/resources. NLGJA also has professional development available through our Newsroom Outreach Program. The project was designed to help newsrooms better understand the complexities of covering our diverse communities, while remaining unbiased. Please feel free to contact us if we can be of assistance. We have members in local, national and international newsrooms who are experienced covering these types of issues.
Thank you for your time and attention.
The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association