by Joe Siegel
In June, the Pentagon ended its ban on openly transgender Americans serving in the U.S. military. In response, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) released a new set of guidelines for journalists to ensure fair and accurate coverage.
According to the guidelines, it is acceptable to refer to a “transgender woman” or “transgender man” on first reference. However, subsequent references should refer to a transgender woman as a “woman” and a transgender man as a “man.”
Additionally, NLGJA recommends:
• As per AP style, one should use the name and pronouns that someone prefers. It’s not about drivers’ licenses, birth certificates or military ID.
• Birth names and gender are not relevant when covering individuals without prior name recognition.
• It is not about surgeries and hormones. If a person wants to talk about private medical history, fine, but one’s gender identity and right to be respected aren’t dependent on taking such actions, nor are these necessary public topics.
• Avoid playing into stereotypes. Not all trans people are seeking to become the archetype of the gender to which they are transitioning. And, at the same time, lots of people who don’t change gender aren’t necessarily the physical epitome of what one thinks of as a man or woman. Avoid subjective assessments of how someone passes.
• Sex assigned at birth, gender and sexual orientation are three different, but related aspects of every individual. The military segregates by male and female gender, therefore someone’s sex assigned at birth and surgery history is not relevant to the standards they must adhere to according to their gender identity.
More guidelines can be found in NLGJA’s Stylebook on LGBT Terminology at nlgja.org/stylebook/.
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