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To: Bristol Herald Courier
Tell the Bristol Herald Courier: Respect transgender people
Implement a policy that requires reporters to confirm gender pronouns with every source and subject as part of basic fact-checking procedure.
Why is this important?
Last year a wave of over 100 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation swept across 22 states. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and allies pushed back across the country to say: We won’t stand for bigotry and hate in our communities.
But being on the defensive is not enough – we also have to proactively work to make systemic and cultural changes that support and affirm LGBTQ people. 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.
That’s why I’m asking the Bristol Herald Courier to implement a policy that requires reporters to confirm gender pronouns with every source and subject as part of basic fact-checking procedures. Across the country, local media sources are some of the worst offenders when it comes to misgendering of subjects and sources, and we can hold our local media to a higher standard.
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. In the case of smaller media outlets, it most often happens in the most heartbreaking and sensitive situation: when a transgender woman is murdered.
Every person has the right to define their own gender, and media outlets have a responsibility to use people’s correct pronouns.