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Tips for Journalists
Below are a few style guide listings from reputable sources that TSER believes are useful for journalists covering transgender issues. If you are a journalist writing about TSER in any capacity and have questions about how to write about these topics, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
An umbrella adjective to describe people whose gender identity or expression differs from the sex assigned at birth. A transgender man is somebody who was assigned female at birth and lives as a male. A transgender woman was assigned male at birth and lives as a female. Do not use transgender as a noun; no one should be referred to as “a transgender.”
Always use a transgender person’s chosen name. Do not use the word “chosen” to describe a person’s gender identity; do not write “a person’s chosen gender identity.”
We typically only mention that a person is transgender if it is relevant to the story. For example, no need to describe one of three victims of a random car crash as a transgender person.
If you are not sure which gender pronoun to use, ask. If you can’t ask, then use the one that is consistent with the way a person presents himself or herself. In some situations confusion may be avoided by not using pronouns. Do not use transgendered.
The terms transsexual man or transsexual woman should be avoided as they are considered outdated. Unless a person specifically requests to be identified that way, use transgender instead. See transgender.
This term is widely regarded as pejorative and should be avoided. Use a simple description or explanation of how the person prefers to be described, e.g., “Award-winning potter Grayson Perry, who frequently dresses as a woman and calls himself Claire…” See transgender.
They, them, their — In most cases, a plural pronoun should agree in number with the antecedent: The children love the books their uncle gave them.They/them/their is acceptable in limited cases as a singular and-or gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy. However, rewording usually is possible and always is preferable. Clarity is a top priority; gender-neutral use of a singular they is unfamiliar to many readers. We do not use other gender-neutral pronouns such as xeor ze…Arguments for using they/them as a singular sometimes arise with an indefinite pronoun(anyone, everyone, someone) or unspecified/unknown gender(a person, the victim, the winner)…In stories about people who identify as neither male nor female or ask not to be referred to as he/she/him/her: Use the person’s name in place of a pronoun, or otherwise reword the sentence, whenever possible. If they/them/their use is essential, explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. Be sure that the phrasing does not imply more than one person…
LGBT, LGBTQ — Acceptable in all references for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning and/or queer. In quotations and the formal names of organizations and events, other forms such as LGBTQIA and other variations are also acceptable with the other letters in the acronym explained. I generally stands for intersex, and A can stand for allies (a person who is not LGBT but who actively supports the LGBT community), asexual (a person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction) or both. The word queer can be considered a slur in many contexts, so limit use of the word to quotes and names of organizations, following rules for obscenities, profanities, vulgarities as appropriate. Note that sex, gender and sexual orientation are not synonymous. See gay or gender.