How LGBTQ organizations are helping the media cover Elliot Page’s announcement

From tip sheets to advice, advocacy groups are helping journalists use correct terminology and avoid hurtful language.

GLAAD and other LGBTQ groups are helping media outlets use correct terminology after actor Elliot Page came out as trans and non-binary.
GLAAD and other LGBTQ groups are helping media outlets use correct terminology after actor Elliot Page came out as trans and non-binary.

On Tuesday, Elliot Page, the Oscar-nominated star of “The Umbrella Academy,” posted to Instagram about his experience being transgender and non-binary.

In addition to congratulating Page, LGBTQ organizations are posting tips to social media to help journalists, and the public at large, navigate the proper way to cover transgender topics respectfully and accurately.  

Advocacy organization GLAAD created a tip sheet to help the media avoid common mistakes and cliches, such as using old gender pronouns, speculating on medical procedures or critiquing a transgender person's feminity or masculinity. 

It's important to have resources created by people with expertise in trans issues because often cis gender people, or those without an understanding of trans issues, aren’t sure how to depict an individual’s experience, said GLAAD chief communications officer Rich Ferraro. 

"Only 34% of the general public knows transgender people personally, but much of the information people learn about the trans experience comes from the media," he said. "It's so very important that the media tells trans stories fairly and accurately with the right language,  because that trickles down to classrooms and living rooms around the country."

One of the biggest issues is "deadnaming" a transgender individual -- using the person's birth name -- as the Transgender Journalist Association tweeted. 

"Reminder: there is NEVER a reason to publish someone’s deadname," the organization said in a statement. "We are delighted @TheElliotPage, star of Juno & The Umbrella Academy, loves being trans & is sharing that part of himself. We urge journalists and media outlets to treat Elliot with respect & not deadname them."

After Page's post, outlets like USA Today and The New York Times were applauded for not using Page's birth name, while others like TMZ and NBC News' Out, were criticized for including it in their headlines. 

"Since Elliot Page was so widely known by his former name, we’re using it in our 1st tweet/article ONLY," Out responded via Twitter. "This decision also abides by GLAAD’s guidance when referring to celebrities who come out as trans." 

Page himself voiced concerns about violence against the trans community, particularly trans people of color, in his coming-out statement and said that misnaming can negatively impact the mental health of members of the community. 

To counter slip-ups before they happen, GLAAD proactively posts to social media and reaches out to journalists with its media resource guide, which is updated regularly. 

"Living in a country where over 40 trans people—mostly transgender women of color—have been murdered in hate crimes this year, GLAAD spends a lot of time contacting media outlets who in many instances have never covered trans stories before," Ferraro said, adding it prevents victims from being victimized twice. 

"Not only are they the victim of a horrendous hate crime, but now their legacy is being tarnished by the fact that the media outlet is referring to them by the name given to them at birth and not their authentic name," he added. 

The GLAAD Media Institute does behind-the-scenes consulting and works with brands, celebrities and PR professionals to advocate for inclusion of trans people in advertising and campaigns. GLAAD has also collaborated with Getty Media to increase the use of trans people in everyday situations in stock photos. 

The group also worked with Procter & Gamble on a series of ads over the past year, including Pantene's Home for the Holidays, which told stories of members of the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles and the film “They Will See You,” made with CNN’s Great Big Story

"For a community that is often targeted by anti-trans rhetoric, legislation and media, our stories are the most powerful thing we have to educate and grow acceptance," Ferraro said. 

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