Monday, January 12, 2009

Respond to Anti-Transgender Reporting

Stories like this one (from an Associated Press reporter!) are exactly why transgender anti-discrimination laws are getting overturned across the nation. Reporters have a duty to report accurately and fairly. This reporter, Mr. Ron Word, has written an article headlined "Fla. conservatives fight transgender restroom rule". While Word does interview two transwomen the majority of his article is incredibly biased. He incorrectly defined "transgender" and did not provide any statistics, quotes, or research refuting the ridiculous claim that a non-discrimination law will magically grant pedophiles more access to children. Please (especially if you live in Florida) read this article and email him a response. Stories like this spread fear and lies, and do no service for our community. Email Ron Word at

Below is my email to Mr. Word.

Hello Mr. Word,

I am writing to you in response to your recent article “Fla. conservatives fight transgender restroom rule”. I greatly appreciate you highlighting this political and social battle, as it is an issue all Floridians – and folks across the US facing similar legal battles should be aware of.

Opening your article with the “dark” and grossly misinformed ad against gender identity non-discrimination at first struck me as an excellent way to showcase the fear-mongering of those who oppose the protection. Yet, you site the ad as being “sort of” true, and never document the reasons why it is not true. The protection extends to issues of gender identity, and in terms of bathrooms it protects transwomen and transmen who wish to use the bathrooms associated with their sex – not pedophiles or sexual offenders. In fact there are no documented court cases in any of the existing counties, cities or states with gender identity protection where a pedophile or a sexual offender claimed the gender-identity protection as their right to commit crimes. Pedophilia and sexual assault will still be illegal. By not reporting this and by not clarifying that the protection does not apply to those engaged in illegal activity you allow this misinformed fear to go unabated.

Moreover, you seem perhaps a bit confused on the subject of transgender people. They do not “change their sexual orientation” as you report. Transgender is an umbrella term that refers to anyone whose gender presentation differs from the sex they were assigned at birth or from cultural norms on how men and women act. Thus, gender identity protection extends to feminine men and masculine women who may not even identify as transgender as well as transsexual men and women who live full-time in a sex different from the one assigned at birth. Transgender people can be straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual as gender identity is different from sexual orientation.

I strongly urge you to contact the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). GLAAD works with media professionals to ensure fair and accurate coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and subjects. They have extensive resources and can assist in connecting you to transgender leaders in Florida who might be able to more accurately represent this extraordinarily important issue. I have cc’d Sarah Kennedy, GLAAD’s Media Field Strategist to this email and I urge you to call or email her with any questions or concerns (646-871-8012). In addition, GLAAD’s Transgender Glossary of Terms can be very useful:

Mik Kinkead

Now, cut and paste this one or go write your own!! Thank you!

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