“Sex Change” Makes the Headlines

“Sex-Change Medical Costs Are Tax-Deductible, U.S. Court Rules” was the title of an article today from Bloomberg.

Here’s an excerpt:

Rhiannon O'Donnabhain

Costs incurred in sex-change operations and procedures are tax-deductible, the U.S. Tax Court ruled.

The Washington-based court ruled yesterday that hormone therapies and sex reassignment surgeries are necessary to treat gender identity disorder, a disease, in the case of a Boston-area man who became a woman named Rhiannon O’Donnabhain.

“The Court is persuaded that petitioner’s sex reassignment surgery was medically necessary,” Judge Joseph Gale wrote in a 69-page decision for the majority.

The decision is the first to rule that sex-change operations qualify as medical care and overturns a 2005 Internal Revenue Service policy denying medical expense deductions in such operations on the grounds they are ‘cosmetic.”

The article uses the phrase “sex reassignment surgeries” only once and then reverts to variations of the “sex change” phrase, which seems to be true for most other similar stories.

My admittedly unscientific scanning of headlines online in the mainstream media seemed to overwhelmingly find that variations on the “sex change” phrase were the default, including obviously the Bloomberg story.

Here’s a smattering of them: “Woman says sex-change tax battle helps others” (Boston Herald); “Tax Court: Mass. woman can deduct sex change” (USA Today); and “Tax Court Allows Deduction for Woman’s Sex Change” (ABC News).

I found two exceptions. “Transgender Surgery is Officially Deductible” was the headline for a story on this topic at The Huffington Post.

At Pam’s House Blend, “GLAD Wins Case vs. IRS on Sex Reassignment Deductions” was the headline they used for their story, but they took it from the GLAD press release.

I certainly understand the need to use short phrases for headlines. Nonetheless, the two previous examples demonstrate that the “sex change” phrase was not the only option.

The use of “sex change” versus “sex reassignment surgery” is not addressed in the NLGJA stylebook. I’d like to hear comments on the distinction between these phrases and the use of “sex change” in these headlines.

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One Response

  1. “I understand the attraction to provocative voices and realize they make good television. And I actually wouldn’t see a problem with Sprigg and Perkins talking about general LGBT politics and their opposition”. Really you don’t see a problem of inviting people to speak who you know are lying? OK you have NO journalistic ethics and are only after the sensational because it get’s ratings right? What you consider “good TV” a lot of us think is a waste of time because there’s no truth in it. You obviously don’t really care about presenting anything factual in your reports which pretty much makes you a waste of time.

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