Resources For Journalists And Media Covering Chaz Bono And Transgender Issues

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) today is urging both local and national media to take the following into consideration when reporting on the addition of Chaz Bono to the cast of the ABC show Dancing With The Stars, and when telling the stories of other transgender people.

Sharda Sekaran
Director of News and Field Media
(646) 871-8019
sekaran@glaad.org

Aaron McQuade
Deputy Director of News and Field Media
(646) 871-8026
mcquade@glaad.org

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) today is urging both local and national media to take the following into consideration when reporting on the addition of Chaz Bono to the cast of the ABC show Dancing With The Stars, and when telling the stories of other transgender people.

To see GLAAD's complete Media Reference Guide on transgender issues, please visit: http://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender.

Terminology:

Gender Identity - One's internal, personal sense of being male or female. For many transgender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own internal sense of gender identity do not match. Chaz Bono's gender identity is male. (Gender identity is separate and distinct from sexual orientation.)

Use "Transgender," not "Transgendered." – The word "transgender" is an adjective, not a noun, and never needs the extraneous "-ed" at the end.  Chaz Bono can be described as either a man or a transgender man.  He is not "a transgender," "a transgendered," or "a transgendered man."

Transition –This is a complex process that occurs over a long period of time. Transitioning can include some or all of the following personal, legal and medical adjustments: telling one's family, friends and/or co-workers; changing one's name and/or sex on legal documents; hormone therapy; and possibly (though not always) one or more forms of surgery.  It is appropriate to say, "In 2009, Chaz Bono began to speak publicly about his transition from female to male."

Things to avoid:

Overemphasis on surgery/genitals – This is a common mistake, but it is considered very offensive. Surgical procedures are not required for someone to identify as transgender. Rather than focus on what surgical procedures a transgender person has or has not undergone, it’s better to focus on who they are as a person and how they feel about themselves.  If you are writing about someone who has publicly discussed their transition, the non-medical elements (as described above) warrant far more attention.

Using incorrect pronouns – Always use the pronoun that matches a subject’s gender identity. Chaz Bono should be referred to as "he," even when describing his life before he transitioned, because your story is being told in the present day. For the same reason, refer to Chaz as the son of Sonny and Cher.

Using incorrect or offensive terminology – It is inaccurate and inappropriate to use the following words to describe Chaz Bono:  lesbian, transvestite, or transsexual.  (Chaz self-identifies as a transgender man.)  Do not use, or allow anyone else to use, defamatory slurs like "tranny," "he-she," etc. 

Things to Know About Discrimination against the Transgender Community

The transgender community faces significant and widespread discrimination. Transgender people are among the most marginalized groups in society. They are susceptible to levels of violence, harassment, and poverty at overwhelmingly higher rates than that of the general population.

  • According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs' 2010 report on hate violence, "transgender people face severe forms of violence but are the least likely to receive medical care or police support, further reducing their safety." Transgender and gender non-conforming people made up 18% of hate violence victims reported in 2010, but only an estimated 0.3% of people in the United States identify as transgender.
  • It is estimated that approximately one transgender person is murdered every month in the United States, and many others are assaulted and harassed. In November, the transgender community holds the Transgender Day of Remembrance to bring attention to those community members killed in hate crimes.   
  • According to a report by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, transgender men and women are about four times as likely to live in extreme poverty as the rest of the population. This is because only 15 states and 134 cities and counties in America protect people from discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
  • According to the same study, those who express a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 reported alarming rates of harassment (78%).

Information from:
NCAVP Report: http://www.avp.org/documents/NCAVPHateViolenceReport2011Finaledjlfinaledits.pdf
Williams Institute Report: http://services.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute/pdf/How-many-people-are-LGBT-Final.pdf
NCTE/NGLTF Report: http://www.thetaskforce.org/reports_and_research/ntds
2010 Transgender Day of Remembrance:  http://www.transgenderdor.org/?page_id=1194

Transgender People in the Media

Including transgender people on popular reality programs like Dancing with the Stars is an important step toward educating the public about transgender lives. Despite of the challenges they face, there are many successful transgender people contributing to American society.  GLAAD can provide you with an extensive list of transgender people available to interview, as well as physicians and mental health professionals who can speak about some of the issues faced by transgender people.  Please contact us for more details and for assistance in booking interviews.

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