Journalists Toolbox: Transgender Terminology

The NLGJA Journalists Toolbox is designed primarily to assist journalists who don’t normally cover the LGBT community.

nlgjawebsiteheaderThe advice is drawn from outside media experts and our own members who are professional journalists for both mainstream media and the LGBT press. We also offer story ideas and new ways of thinking for reporters who are experienced in covering LGBT life.

“The ‘T’ in LGBT: Getting Transgender Terminology Right” offers tips on how journalists can better explore the intersection of religion and homosexuality.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Before you begin covering the transgender community, get a handle on the various terms. Just as ‘colored’ and ‘Negro’ are no longer acceptable ways to describe African-Americans, some words (such as “transvestite”) will offend many transgender people…

“If you’re interviewing transgender people, don’t be afraid to ask questions about where they fit in the spectrum. ‘In my experience, most people are open. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be talking to a reporter anyway,’ says Diane Hutchinson, an M-to-F transsexual who lives in New Jersey.

“But she advises journalists to be sensitive, especially when discussing topics such as anatomy and surgeries. ‘Use the same sense you’d use in talking to anybody else,’ she says.

“If it’s relevant to your story, you may also wish to ask transgender sources about their sexual orientation. Contrary to popular opinion, many are not gay. Transgender people aren’t automatically attracted to one gender or another, although it’s true that many drag queens and drag kings are gay or lesbian.”

Click here to read the complete article.

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