Posted on August 11, 2016
CREDO activists standing for transgender equality
Nearly 150,000 CREDO members so far this year have stood up for transgender equality by taking action to fight back against hateful, bigoted anti-transgender laws in states across the country. Fighting back against discriminatory laws at the local, state and national level is essential to ensuring full equality, but we also have to proactively work to make American culture more inclusive of transgender people.
We believe a crucial way for our communities to be more inclusive is to acknowledge and affirm that every person has the right to define their own gender and to be referred to using their correct gender pronouns. Referring to someone using incorrect gender pronouns — misgendering them — contributes to the violence and oppression that people in the transgender community face every day
Our friend Evan Greer, a queer musician who is also the Campaign Director at Fight for the Future, is misgendered in the media on a regular basis. When she launched a campaign calling on traditional corporate media to confirm gender pronouns with every source, we asked her how we could help.
Our campaign is calling on The New York Times – which is hailed by GLAAD as having one of the strongest LGBTQ inclusive style guides in traditional media – to make its policies and practices even stronger by proactively confirming gender pronouns with every source.
We know that the majority of painful misgendering in the media happens in smaller local and state news outlets, so we’ll soon be inviting signers of our national petition to launch mobilize campaigns targeting their local media. It’s going to take pressure from both industry leaders like The New York Times, as well as from the grassroots to create a system-wide best practice of respecting every person’s preferred gender pronoun.
The New York Times is an iconic and leading brand within the global media. Over the years it has made serious mistakes in covering trans issues, but it has one of the strongest LGBTQ style guides in traditional corporate media. The guide includes a policy of using names and pronouns that the person identifies with, but doesn’t require reporters to confirm pronouns with every source. If the Times strengthens its current policy, it can be a model for what truly inclusive reporting looks like in reporting across the world.
Referring to someone by an incorrect gender pronoun not only perpetuates anti-trans bigotry and hate, it’s bad journalism. Journalists should report facts, not assumptions. Misgendering doesn’t just happen to transgender people; it happens to people whose names are unfamiliar, gender-neutral, or derived from a language other than English, and people whose voices or facial features are not immediately identifiable as male or female.
Using a person’s correct gender pronoun is basic to journalistic accuracy and is simple to make part of standard fact-checking procedures. And for transgender and gender nonconforming people, it is a basic facet of respect that is too often denied.
Requiring reporters to confirm gender pronouns will help end harmful and offensive misgendering of transgender people in the media. It will give reporters a basic standard of inclusivity. It will also help normalize, for the tens of thousands of people who serve as sources in the mainstream media each year, the idea that gender is neither fixed nor binary, and that gender can’t be assumed. Confirming gender pronouns is a powerful way to create a society that is more inclusive of transgender people, and the New York Times has an opportunity right now to lead the charge.
Every person has the right to define their own gender, and media outlets have a responsibility to use people’s correct pronouns.
Tell the New York Times: Require that reporters confirm gender pronouns with every source, as part of basic fact checking procedure. Click the link below to sign the petition.
Thank you for your activism.