Media Coverage of Transgender Youth: Ensuring an Equal Future

Three recent events have highlighted the remarkable stories of transgender youth and the incredible work of those who advocate on their behalf. Transgender young people are a population that is vastly underrepresented in the media, and it has been encouraging to see the media using these stories as opportunities to educate and raise awareness.

 Jazz, an eleven year old transgender girl, made her second appearance on 20/20 where she was interviewed by Barbara Walters. The true heart of the story lies in Jazz and her family working together to take on some of the challenges that transgender youth face - as well as a few of the challenges that all preteens face. 

Sadie, also an eleven year old girl, wrote a letter calling on President Obama to help in the movement toward transgender equality. She brought to light that being transgender still means that "we are like everyone else."  Sadie was motivated to write such a moving letter after President Obama's inauguration speech, where he did not mention the transgender community after highlighting the importance of the rights for gay and lesbian people.



On a state level, law makers in Oregon have decided that on October 1, 2014, Medicaid will provide such medical services as mental health counseling and medicines to assist in pubertal suppression which could help transgender youth avoid unwanted bodily changes that conflict with hormone development. 

"For many transgender youth and their families, media portrayals of transgender children represent the first time they've seen anyone like them or like their families," said Michael Silverman, Executive Director of Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.  "Positive representations can be empowering, even liberating.  For many children who have not come out, these portrayals let them know that it can be safe to do that.  For many parents who were unsure about how to deal with their transgender children, these portrayals provide hope that answers are out there."

These stories have brought light to a group, transgender youth, that many are still unaware of. By implementing healthcare legislation and calling on politicians and the public to become more aware of and educated about the lives of transgender people, advocates are working to ensure a future of equality for young people like Jazz and Sadie, and for transgender people worldwide.