GLAAD's Work on Transgender Issues

Since the mid-1990s, GLAAD has been working to make sure journalists and entertainment professionals have the tools they need to tell the stories of transgender people. These are just a few highlights of our work.

Educating Journalists and Hollywood

1998 - GLAAD's Media Reference Guide includes a transgender section with specific details on how to respectfully and accurately write about transgender people.

2000 - GLAAD works with the Associated Press to change the AP Style Guide and bring it more into alignment with GLAAD's Media Reference Guide. Newspapers across the country follow the AP's lead.

2002 - GLAAD works closely with the family of murdered transgender teenager Gwen Araujo, handling all media. Lifetime aired a movie about her life, and California passed the "Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act" which outlawed the "gay or transgender panic defense" in murder trials.

2005 - GLAAD media trains four college students cast in the documentary series TransGeneration - one of the first media projects to explore the lives of transgender youth.

2006 - GLAAD works with All My Children as they introduce a transgender character, reaching a daytime viewing audience.

2009 - Staff works closely with Chaz Bono as he announces his transition, and joins Dancing with the Stars. GLAAD created tip sheets for journalists and entertainment reporters on how to cover Chaz's story, and successfully pitched CBS' The Insider to air an on-camera Dancing with the Stars viewing party with transgender community members who spoke about Chaz and broader issues faced by the community.

2010 - Provide script feedback and background information to the TV show Degrassi as they introduce Adam, a high school freshman and the first transgender teen on TV. The episode which introduced Adam received an Emmy Award nomination, and a Peabody Award. Degrassi is the most popular show on TeenNick, a network geared to viewers 11 to 19 years old.

2012 - When Jenna Talackova is denied the right to participate in the Miss Universe pageant, GLAAD works with contest organizers and NBC to ensure that the rules are changed to allow all women to participate. The change has implications around the world as countries from Colombia to Singapore to the Philippines discuss transgender women being treated equally.

2012 – To generate publicity for Transgender Awareness Week, GLAAD produces and launches online videos of prominent transgender people speaking about their lives as part of the "I Am: Trans People Speak" project. CBS News, Buzzfeed and other mainstream news outlets run the videos which have now generated over 75,000 views.

2013 - GLAAD staff meet with the President of CBS Entertainment and a dozen CBS network executives to discuss problematic transgender stories on CBS programs, and ways in which the network could incorporate fair and accurate transgender characters. Similar meetings are planned for Showtime, MTV and Bravo.

2013 - GLAAD is helping students and alumni at Azusa Pacific University show their support of H. Adam Ackley, a professor at the school for 15 years, who was asked to resign when he announced he was transgender.

2014 - GLAAD and Facebook announce a custom gender field that allows Facebook users to more accurately reflect who they are.

2014 - Laverne Cox accepts the Stephen F. Kolzak Award at the 25th annual GLAAD Media Awards.

Responding to Misinformation and Defamation

In addition to proactively educating journalists and people in Hollywood – and ultimately reaching their audiences with accurate information about transgender people – GLAAD also responds strongly when media outlets provide misinformation about transgender people or clearly defame them. Inaccurate and unfair coverage happens all too often, particularly when a transgender person has been the victim hate violence. Here are a few examples of this work:

  • GLAAD created a special style guide entitled "Doubly Victimized" to help journalists writing about an anti-transgender hate violence treat the victim with dignity and respect. In the last year, The New York Times, Associated Press, and the Los Angeles Times have all updated their style guides because of meetings with GLAAD.
  • In 2013 alone, GLAAD has worked with newspapers in New York City, Rochester, Newark, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Los Angeles ensuring that they refer to murdered transgender women with the correct name and female pronouns.
  • GLAAD is working with partner organizations to expose the anti-LGBT activists behind the current effort to repeal California's AB 1266 law. This law allows transgender students in public schools to use the facilities that are appropriate for their true gender. Frank Schubert and the National Organization for Marriage are using scare-mongering tactics and outright lies to frighten the public about transgender youth in an attempt to repeal this groundbreaking law.

Media Train Transgender People to Effectively Tell Their Own Stories

For over a decade, GLAAD staff have conducted media trainings for transgender people so they can become powerful and effective storytellers, using the media to educate Americans about their lives. We have conducted these trainings at conferences around the country, and on an individual basis when someone has found themselves thrust into the national spotlight. Some of that work includes:

  • GLAAD launched a Change.org petition with the family of Coy Mathis, a transgender 6-year-old from Colorado. The petition asked for Coy's school to allow her to use the correct bathroom. In just a few days, the petition gathered over 60,000 signatures, and Coy's school responded by creating a fair policy for transgender students. GLAAD media trained Coy's family in preparation for their appearance on the Katie Couric Show and other media outlets.
  • When mixed martial arts fighter Fallon Fox was outed as a transgender woman against her will, GLAAD stepped in to media train her, giving her the tools she needed to interact with sports media journalists. We also monitored sports media and contacted any journalist who was disrespectful of Fallon, demanding that they treat her with the respect accorded any athlete.
  • As part of GLAAD's People of Color Media Institute, we gave intensive, in-depth media trainings to several transgender people of color, including Tiq Milan. Tiq was cast in MTV's I'm from Rolling Stone, a reality show for young aspiring journalists. Tiq now works at GLAAD as a media strategist.
  • In September 2013, GLAAD hosted a panel and training called "Growing Visibility: Transgender People in the Media," which included Orange Is The New Black actress Laverne Cox and athlete Kye Allums. The training taught transgender people best practices for talking to the media and becoming spokespeople.

 

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