Geena Rocero made history when she presented her TED talk and came out as a transgender woman. And today, on the International Transgender Day of Visibility, Rocero is launching Gender Proud, a campaign to call attention to the fact that there are only a handful countries where transgender individuals are able to change their gender marker without having to first undergo surgery.
At the same time, TED is follow up on Rocero's presentation by publishing, "How should we talk about transgender issues?" which presents tips and guidelines for discussing transgender people and issues. “How should we talk about …” is a TED series in which we examine how society tackles and does better reporting on sensitive issues. Included in those who contributed was GLAAD's Senior Media Strategist, Tiq Milan.
Geena Rocero did a pretty bold thing at TED2014: She came out. The transgender fashion model chose Vancouver to reveal to the world that she was assigned male at birth. “I am here exposed … to help others live without shame and terror,” she says in today’s talk.
The trans community has had a spotlight fixed on it in this year: a piece in Grantland sparked outrage and sadness after the subject of the story, outed without her permission, committed suicide; Jared Leto won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing a trans woman in Dallas Buyer’s Club; while Piers Morgan was widely criticized after a poorly handled interview with journalist and activist Janet Mock. Meanwhile the US’s new Affordable Care Act bans discrimination against someone based on their “gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.” (See also: Why scientist Kate Stone decided to speak up about being transgender a year after giving her own TED Talk.)
As gender issues become more public, it’s clear that the media will play a crucial role in how trans people are treated — but sensitivity starts with the individual, and a good first step is to be thoughtful and precise about our language. Below, find tips and quotes gathered from trans men and women and their allies about positive, helpful ways to have that conversation. Though respectful language is only part of the battle for equality and acceptance, it’s a very good start.