In their latest issue (November 2009), Seventeen magazine published a defamatory article representing transgender youth as “liars” and deceivers. In an “as told to Jessica Press” article titled "True Life Drama: My BOYFRIEND turned out to be a girl!", they relate Sheri’s story of finding out that her first love was a transgender young man in an accusatory and sensationalizing tone.
As first pointed out by LGBT teen activist Ariel Bustamante when she alerted prominent Pam’s House Blend blogger Autumn Sandeen to the story:
“Rather than use this opportunity to educate readers about transgender issues, it …instead furthers the common transphobic assumption that someone whose gender does not match their sex assigned at birth is a deceptive liar and even compares them (at the bottom) to perverts, drug addicts, and older dads trying to get young women without disclosing their parental/age status.”
In her insightful blog about the article, Sandeen wrote:
“What the sensationalizing of this Seventeen story [creates] is a recipe for teaching intolerance of trans youth based on gender identity and expression, and this recipe — when I think about Brandon Teena and Angie Zapata — is also a recipe for fueling violence against trans people.”
While Seventeen was certainly right to publish Sheri’s experience of her dramatic break-up, there is never an excuse to misgender and misrepresent transgender youth, especially given the highly at-risk status of this demographic. (See GLSEN’s report on the experiences of transgender youth in U.S. schools.)
GLAAD has written to senior editors at Seventeen, requesting a meeting and an apology for their sensationalized coverage in their December issue.
Bustamante has also created a facebook campaign to raise awareness of this unacceptable article.
Please Take Action Now:
Please write to Seventeen to voice your concerns about this sensational presentation.
Tell the magazine's editors that sensationalizing transgender teenagers and young adults contributes to a climate that puts young LGBT people in harm’s way. Ask them to consult GLAAD for resources when covering future stories on LGBT people.
Please remember, when contacting Seventeen, to ensure that your emails are civil and respectful and do not engage in any kind of name-calling or abusive behavior.
Keep checking GLAADblog for further updates on this developing story.