On May 22nd, Jacob Nash of Margie's Hope and Cleveland Transgender Community Outreach Committee met with faculty of the Cleveland Plain Dealer to increase the paper's awareness of and sensitivity around the issues that concern the transgender community.
Recently the Plain Dealer fell under extreme scrutiny from LGBT organizations and advocacy groups for its disrespectful and dehumanizing reporting of the murder of Cemia Acoff. Cemia was found in a Cleveland pond after being reported missing for little over a month.
Following outreach from GLAAD and local advocacy organizations, Nash met with over 20 Plain Dealer faculty, interns, column writers, reporters and executives in what is typically a busy newsroom environment to discuss the effects of their reporting techniques on the transgender community, and more specifically, victims of crime. This meeting was similar to the ones GLAAD arranged recently with the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.
During the meeting, Jacob says he discussed pronoun issues, available resources for proper reporting on Trans issues, and the importance of proper context. Jacob says the resources he gave on proper reporting were received well, and that overall, he was left feeling more confident about the paper's ability to cover trans issues responsibly, even though one of the meeting's attendees did show some resistance.
"I think so…I hope so, I think that one editor is just one out of 20. If we reached the rest of the people in the room, then most are going to be supportive. I can't say 100 percent they will change their reporting but I am hopeful they will. It was a really good exchange, we had a good dialogue about transgender issues, about our concerns and their concerns, they asked good questions. I was blunt and honest about my personal life and how bad reporting really affects transgender persons."
Since initially reporting on Cemia, the Cleveland Plain Dealer changed its reports to reflect the proper pronoun usage. Although the overall tone of the articles was still less than ideal due to the choice of contextual information (focusing on her run-ins with the law, as opposed to the discrimination that trans people face every day) Cemia was represented as a Trans woman and not a soulless individual.
For proper reporting on transgender issues, visit GLAAD's transgender resource page: www.glaad.org/transgender