GLAAD helps improve awareness of issues facing trans and gender non-conforming community members in Pittsburgh

June 5, 2020

Over the past few weeks, GLAAD has led a push for better understanding and respectful coverage of transgender and gender non-conforming people after a KDKA Pittsburgh radio show host misgendered Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine in May. Regional media reported the host referring to Dr. Levine as “sir” at least three times, with her replying, “Please don’t misgender me.” The host was also criticized by other local media, including WESA’s Chris Potter, who tweeted, “What an absolute embarrassment to the western Pennsylvania press corps.”

After reaching out to both Dr. Levine’s office and the radio station, as well as local LGBTQ journalists, GLAAD worked with the city of Pittsburgh’s Commission on Human Relations on a training program for media professionals and appeared on a panel with members of the Pittsburgh media and transgender community. GLAAD consulted on the program and educational materials, which included research from GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide. The focus of the program was on respectful and accurate coverage of gender identity, especially in light of the KDKA issue. The program also include a wider discussion to prepare journalists for the upcoming Supreme Court decisions on transgender and LGB employment discrimination.

Sixty-one journalists from the Pittsburgh region attended the webinar, “Gender Awareness in the Media,” on May 29th, including the radio show host and station management. There was discussion of the coverage of the May 27th police shooting death of Tony McDade in Tallahassee, Florida, which GLAAD has also been monitoring and working on with local media. Attendees received handout guides for accurate and respectful coverage, which included GLAAD’s recommendations for covering crimes involving transgender and gender-nonconforming people. This guide also went to press in Tallahassee.

More than 250 people registered for the second webinar, “Gender Awareness in Pittsburgh,” which was open to the public and held June 5. GLAAD continues to monitor and coordinate with local media in Pittsburgh and Tallahassee on their coverage of these cases and the LGBTQ community.