To the Houston Chronicle

In regards to http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/3197088

 

I write today in regards to several errors in today’s Rick Casey column (When the flasher is a transsexual 5/25/05).  Not only was the column sensationalistic, but it also adds to misunderstanding about an already stigmatized segment of our community – transsexual people.

 

Specifically, what was incorrect was Mr. Casey’s reference to a Male-to-Female transsexual as a “male transsexual” and his usage of the male pronoun in referring to her. 

 

I encourage the Chronicle to follow the guidelines of the Associated Press Stylebook in this regard.  AP style states that when referring to transgender subjects, reporters are to “use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics (by hormone therapy, body modification, or surgery) of the opposite sex and present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly." Clearly if this transgender woman has “Playboy quality breasts,” she is living publicly as a woman. 

 

In addition, for the record, a transsexual man is a person who began life as a female and now lives their life as a man, i.e. a Female-to-Male (FTM) transsexual.  A transsexual woman is the opposite, i.e. a Male-to-Female (MTF) transsexual.

 

To the Houston Voice

In regards to http://www.houstonvoice.com/2005/5-6/news/localnews/rape.cfm

 

I write today in regards to several errors in Binnie Fisher’s story of May 6, 2005, “Transgendered man says he was raped in Brazoria County Jail.”  First, I should say that I appreciate that the article exposes a difficult issue – the sexual assault of transgender/transsexual people in the criminal justice system.  It is good to see trans people portrayed in a positive light, as survivors and people with children.  However, the errors in language in the article add to misunderstanding about an already stigmatized segment of our community – transsexual people.

 

Specifically, what was incorrect was the author’s reference to Mica Green as a “male transsexual” and the usage of the male pronoun in referring to her, despite her presentation to the world as a woman and the usage of the correct terms by the Paige Mahogany from CATS.

 

To begin, a transsexual man is a person who began life as a female and now lives their life as a man, i.e. a Female-to-Male (FTM) transsexual.  A transsexual woman is the opposite, i.e. a Male-to-Female (MTF) transsexual.

 

In addition, I encourage the Houston Voice to follow the guidelines of the very mainstream Associated Press Stylebook.  AP style states that when referring to transgender subjects, reporters are to “use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics (by hormone therapy, body modification, or surgery) of the opposite sex and present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly." 

 

In addition, on their website, the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Journalists have additional information on this subject.  I would encourage all of the Voice’s reporters and editors to familiarize themselves with it. 

 

The LGBT press should provide an example to the mainstream media, not lag behind it.