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A Trans Woman's Plea To Media Professionals

This week it's Grantland outing somebody, last week it was a woman imprisoned for protecting herself from a hate crime, this NEEDS to stop. Next week I want to read something nice.

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So Grantland have published an unabashed apology for their handling of their Dr. V and the magical putter story...

Maybe it's the estrogen or maybe I'm just worn down to the point of exhaustion, but I'm in tears over this. I'm a trans woman and I have attempted to kill myself twice, I have been a prolific self harmer, I have cried an ocean and bled rivers, wishing the torture and pain of living a lie would just go away. I have been on lunch break with colleagues and have seen how the throwaway insults that have been written about trans women translate into throwaway transphobia, the disparaging language printed and said on television is how cis people learn about us. A wrong pronoun here, a subtle attack on our authenticity there, it all adds up to the biggest misrepresentation of a minority since the lies that were spread about gay men and women in the eighties and nineties.

It is simply beyond words that time and time again we read how "sorry" these people who show absolutely no respect are, over and over again trans people are trashed by the media, treated like a piece of tenderized meat to be bashed from all angles and meaninglessly attacked for the titillation of the masses. I am sick to the bone from reading these apologies from editors, however genuine they sound, the fact is that these are the same editors who approved the offending article in the first place. What am I supposed to do, accept the apology and pretend everything is OK?

Trans men and women, especially those of color, are being murdered, we are committing suicide, being denied healthcare, jobs and homes, we are far more likely to be forced into living a life that brings us closer to the dangers of society, and what, all the media can do is obsess about our genitals, forcibly out us against our will and deride the people who risk everything just to live some semblance of a 'normal' life.

To all media professionals:

Please, just stop and think, for just one minute, I am actually on my knees begging you, think about how your actions affect the people you deal with. I'm tired of reading about yet another trans person who has committed suicide, been murdered or been hounded out of their life. I am so tired of over and over again having to stand up for people who for no fault of their own find themselves as the butt of a joke or used and abused for the sake of a few clicks to your website.

Why can't you concentrate on all the positive things trans people do? Janet Mock is a wonderful writer, Laverne Cox is a talented actress, Lana Wachowski and Laura Jane Grace have shown that transitioning can enhance a persons life. Kate Bornstein and Julia Serano have written some amazing things on gender, feminism and overcoming the challenges that life throws at us. In the UK Paris Lees is breaking new ground as a journalist and broadcaster, Stephen Whittle, OBE and Christine Burns, MBE have tirelessly and successfully campaigned for greater rights for transgender people. Raphael Fox and Lewis Hancox are redefining how trans folk are represented in documentaries with their My Genderation series. I've even written an educational children's book about a gender neutral child. Why can't you highlight us?

What's so difficult about showing the world the legitimate struggles we face instead? Whistle blower Chelsea Manning is fighting for the right for medical treatment, CeCe McDonald has just been released from prison after defending herself from a hate crime, homeless woman Andrea Quintero was brutally murdered in Rome. As many as 41 percent of trans people have attempted suicide, almost 20 percent have been refused medical treatment, we are vastly more likely to be jobless and homeless. Why can't you highlight these genuine injustices?

It is simply not enough to plead ignorance and apologize afterwards, you have a duty to fully investigate how to represent people who are gender variant, the ethics and best practices around disclosing identity and the use of pronouns, there are free and easy to access style guides like this one from GLAAD or the UK's Trans Media Watch (.pdf).

Please, show us some respect and stop recycling the tired old tropes that were used against lesbian and gay people, give us our dignity and help us show the world that being transgender can be one of the most wonderful, enlightening experiences a human being can have.

Sarah Savage is a trans activist, writer, speaker and patron for Wipe Out Transphobia

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