Trans Journalists Association Style Guide Encourages Journalists to Censor Dissenters

A drag queen throws glitter during a march in support of Black Lives Matter and Black Trans Lives in Boystown on June 14, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Protests erupted across the nation after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25th. (Photo by Natasha Moustache/Getty Images)
Natasha Moustache/Getty Images

A style guide released by the Trans Journalists Association advises journalists to avoid common phrases such as “biological gender” or “opposite sex” in the name of inclusivity, urges them to generally avoid “narratives of detransition,” and encourages them to describe critical feminists as “transphobic” and “anti-trans.”

The style guide, signed by the likes of “queer genderqueer spiritual activist” and “radical copyeditor” Alex Kapitan and St. Louis Public Radio reporter and Trans Journalists Association founder member Kae Petrin, contends that “too much” of the media coverage on trans people and issues have failed both audiences and trans communities.

“The media bears a great responsibility when it comes to ensuring accurate and sensitive coverage of trans communities,” they stated, providing a style guide designed “to begin to improve trans coverage.”

While the guide covers a host of topics — from diversifying newsrooms to “avoiding harmful cliches and stereotypes” — it contains several specific calls which, if implemented by mainstream media outlets, would effectively silence opposition and erase the biological reality attached to the word “woman.”

The guide states specifically that journalists should entirely “avoid equating gender and anatomy in your coverage” and opt for phrases such as “people with ovaries, people with prostates, people who can get pregnant”:

This is particularly prevalent when writing about “men’s health” and “women’s health.” Consider whether that framing is trans-inclusive. When you write the word women, are you including trans women? Does it apply to non-binary people and trans men? Most reporting about health according to gender overlooks trans people and incorrectly equates anatomy to gender. Instead of simply writing “men” or “women,” consider who the issue you’re writing about affects — for instance: people with ovaries, people with prostates, people who can get pregnant. In some cases, the answer is not immediately clear, and it might be necessary to consult an expert. If you’re unable to find a clear answer, you can use “cis men/women and some intersex and trans people.”

The guide also advises journalists to completely dismiss the debate on transgender women competing in women’s sports, proclaiming that there is “no evidence that trans women who are recieving [sic] transition-related medical care have an advantage over cis women.”

Furthermore, the guide explicitly instructs journalists to avoid the terms  “biological gender,” “biological sex,” “biological woman,” “biological female,” “biological man,” or “biological male” altogether, deeming them “inaccurate and often offensive.” Instead, writers should — when it is “necessary” —  refer to the sex the individual was assigned at birth, using “Assigned Male at Birth” (AMAB) or “Assigned Female at Birth” (AFAB).

“Think seriously about whether a story requires this information,” the guide cautions.

The style guide also takes specific aim at feminists who criticize the transgender movement, or as they have been dubbed, “trans exclusionary radical feminists” (TERFs). The guide advises journalists to essentially censor them by avoiding giving their view a platform. In the event that they do cover them in some way, the words “transphobic” and “anti-trans” should be used, per the guide:

Some anti-trans rights groups and individuals use the euphemism “gender critical feminism” to describe their hateful ideology. They are also sometimes called “trans exclusionary radical feminists” or TERFs. This ideology should not be elevated in the press. When reporting on fringe groups and hate groups, instead of calling them TERFs or gender critical feminists, use language like transphobic, anti-trans, etc. Avoid referring to anyone as a feminist when they are spreading anti-trans hate.

Stories about detransitioning should also be avoided, the guide states, because such stories “often suggest trans people should not have bodily autonomy and give fuel to the far right’s attacks on trans youth“:

“Detransition” narratives often feature people who thought they were trans or experiencing gender dysphoria and later figured out they weren’t without medical treatment. These stories should not be used to question established medical standards that give trans people bodily autonomy, which are laid out by the internationally recognized World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

On a broader scale, the guide urges newsrooms to gather more trans sources for issues “beyond trans issues” alone.

“Incorporate trans people into your source base, and interview them for stories across beats, just as you would interview people with a variety of backgrounds and perspectives for most stories,” the guide states, citing the importance of the “unique perspectives.”

The guide also provides a lengthy list of words to avoid. Those include “gender identity disorder,” “identifies as,” “male-bodied” or “female-bodied,” “opposite sex,” “sex change,” “transgenderism,” and “transgendered.”

The document notes that it will be “updated as language evolves and additional guidance is needed.”

Similarly, the Merriam-Webster dictionary recently appeared to modify its definition of “trans woman” to “woman who was identified as male at birth,” effectively ignoring the biological reality associated with the word, “woman.”

As Breitbart News detailed:

Notably, the new definition conflicts with the dictionary’s official description of “woman,” which is defined as “an adult female person.” Merriam-Webster defines “female” as “of, relating to, or being the sex that typically has the capacity to bear young or produce eggs” — a function a trans woman is, biologically, incapable of.

Similarly, “trans man” is currently defined by Merriam-Webster as “a man who was identified as female at birth,” and the same logical sequence prevails. A “man” is defined as “an adult male human,” and “male” is defined as “an individual of the sex that is typically capable of producing small, usually motile gametes (such as sperm or spermatozoa) which fertilize the eggs of a female” — another function biological females, or those who would identify as a “trans man” —  are not able to do biologically.

Elsewhere, companies are actively encouraging employees to embrace the calls for such change. T-Mobile announced in November the launch of “new optional name badges for all retail employees that can include employees’ personal pronouns,” pushing the “revolutionary claim that men can grab women’s pronouns and identity whenever they wish,” as Breitbart News reported.


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