In response to Angie L. Pineda’s comment left on the planetransgender post “California Saddleback College Breaks Laws Denying Public Accommodations Outing Transgender Student”.
Dear Ms. Pineda,
I will take this opportunity to educate you and your staff about how to write about transgender people. I am somewhat a authority on this subject having published thousands of articles about people under our umbrella. Besides drag queens I can only recall one prior instance when a trans person was publicly equally comfortable with both gender pronouns and names.
To say it was s surprise when Kevin Balot won the Thai transgender beauty contest would be a understatement. To the best of my knowledge that was the the first time I wrote about a transgender person who identified publicly as female but was equally at ease being addressed with male pronouns and presentation.
There were no condemning responses to the multitude of articles about Kevin Balot because they were respectful in making sure the reader was aware of the trans persons extraordinary identity.
Your article did not do that. I was taken unaware as you made no effort to educate readers Natalie Smith is currently at ease with both her male and female names. That could be construed as exploitative but for the sake of argument lets just assume you are ignorant about transgender sensitivities.
Let me explain why you article was seen as problematic.
Glaad has established the industry style guide when writing about transgender victims, which Natalie Smith is.
As you can see it’s not acceptable to place a trans persons name in parentheses regardless. If you still doubt Glaad and I, take a moment and sample the millions of articles about trans people on the web. You will find haters put our preferred names in parentheses to invalidate us consistently. On the whole, you will not see that practice in respectable informed media sources.
Now, I’m not suggesting you edit your article to adhere to this style guide. What I am trying to do Ms. Pineda is to educate you about what is expected from the media.
So in the future, now that you are are aware this, please help trans peoples struggle for respect by making your readers aware of extraordinary circumstances such as these so they know it’s unusual to use a name other than a trans persons preferred name when writing about us. That way your articles will be received like the articles about Kevin’s were, with amazement and open minds and gratitude.
Kelli Anne Busey