Next Steps for Learning and Allyship
Some action items and reflection questions for journalists looking to improve their reporting and be more respectful, thoughtful humans.
One key thing we hope you take away from this Media Representation Guide is that journalists and media players can be critical allies for any community that is seeking the equity we all deserve. By turning the tables of power and reporting with instead of on trans and gender-diverse communities, you can use your platform to raise visibility and share stories that often go untold.
Moving Past the Negative News Narrative
Trauma, violence, and suffering exist in 2SLGBTQ+ communities—but so too do hope, resilience, and community care. Affirming stories of success and celebration should be as common as the struggle narrative.
While antagonism, controversy, and sensationalism draw clicks, it’s the responsibility of journalists to go beyond and share stories that are truly representative of the richness of our communities.
Positive or neutral reporting show the cisgender community that they have more in common with trans and gender-diverse people then they may think. More well-rounded media coverage may also help trans and gender-diverse folks of all ages who may be searching for support and community. Seeing yourself reflected in non-negative stories can go a long way in making someone feel accepted by society and like there’s a promising path forward.
“Ask us questions about everyday needs and present us as human beings with a variety of perspectives instead of being specific about what makes us different as trans people. I would feel more respected, honoured, and validated if we were able to talk about the things I share in common with the rest of humanity.”
- Susan Gapka (she/her), trans activist and member of The 519’s Education and Training Team
Tips for Better, More Balanced Storytelling
Contact The 519 and other organizations for media stories outside of Pride Month, Trans Day of Visibility, Trans Day of Remembrance, and other themed days.
Build sustainable relationships with trans and gender-diverse folks by attending events and becoming part of our community.
Actively seek stories outside the news cycle. Trans and gender-diverse folks do interesting everyday things, too! Celebrate our joys, achievements, and successes with your reporting.
Include our voices in everyday stories. Reporting about women-run businesses? Include trans women. Reporting about youth-led initiatives? Include 2SLGBTQ+ youth. Reporting on upcoming events? Include trans-led events and celebrations. Your reporting can bring our communities opportunities without having to focus solely on our identities.
Interview trans and gender-diverse people instead of having an “expert” comment on our lives.
End stories on a hopeful note, whether that’s a positive quote about someone who is being remembered or a person reflecting on what comes next for them.
Challenging Institutional Norms
Method #1: Defend a person’s right to self-identify
Your first approach should always be to try and help an editor or producer understand that you’re trying to be representative and respectful of the words and meaning someone shared with you.
What this could sound like
“Hi, Editor X, I just finished my interview with Suren. Suren uses the pronouns he/them and asked that we use the word genderqueer to describe his identity. I wanted to let you know that I’ll be interchanging these pronouns throughout the story as per Suren’s request and explaining how he defines his gender identity after I include the term.”
Some editors will have the empathy to accept that this is how someone identifies. Ultimately, a person’s right to self-identify and define their own gender identity is protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code. In this spirit, it should be reflected in your reporting, regardless of what your newsroom policy or journalistic style guide says.
Learning and growth depend on constant reflection. Below are some questions that may help think through your reporting and the role that journalists can play in active allyship with trans and gender-diverse communities. Pose these to yourself, answer them with a co-worker, or use them in the classroom.
- What biases might I have against trans and gender-diverse communities?
- What assumptions do I hold about trans and gender-diverse folks?
- How do these biases and assumptions influence the way that I report?
- Whose voice or experience am I centring in my reporting and why?
- How does cisnormativity come through in my reporting? Cisnormativity is the assumption that the majority of people are cisgender and that this is the norm.
- How is your personal identity situated in relation to trans and gender-diverse communities?
- How would you introduce yourself to an Indigenous community member, considerate of the guidelines outlined on the [Covering 2 Spirit Communities] page?
- Where do the words you use come from? Do they have colonial, patriarchal, or otherwise harmful roots?
“The media is made up of people, and everything that comes out of a newsroom is coming from those people. If those people are not aware of their biases and the stereotypes that they are perpetuating, then they will continue to perpetuate them.”
- Nana aba Duncan (she/her), Journalist and Carty Chair of Journalism, Diversity and Inclusion Studies at Carleton University
There are no cards in the learning and allyship category.
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