GLAAD, BUT NOT HAPPY
The article about a teen activist protesting the serving of foie gras by Cyrus Restaurant in Healdsburg used dehumanizing and inaccurate terminology to describe the youth ("Foie Gras Flap," Jan. 13).
It was also highly inappropriate to report on this individual's gender identity when the information was not pertinent to the story. In a case involving a young person, it becomes especially dangerous to publicize their transgender status, since doing so may compromise his or her safety.
Identifying the young woman as a "transvestite teen activist" served only to sensationalize the story through the use of an outdated and defamatory term. If gender identity is relevant to a story, the appropriate term to use is "transgender."
Had the youth's gender identity been necessary to include in the story, describing this activist as "a 16-year-old male who dresses and lives as a female," was also inappropriate. We recommend using this explanation: "Transgender refers to those whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth."
We urge you to change this story to reflect fair, accurate and inclusive standards, and to seriously consider these critiques in future reporting.
Please consult the GLAAD Media Reference Guide for more information.
Director of National News
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, GLAAD
I'm deeply disturbed that you used the word "transvestite" in the title and article about the conflict between Cyrus and the teenage girl.
First, the word "transvestite" is pejorative and derogatory. It is no longer used, and for good reason. Second, what does it matter which sex she was assigned at birth? What does that have to do with the story at all? Identifying her in this way puts her safety at risk in a very small town that isn't always accepting of differences. Third, the writer correctly refers to the young woman as she, and therefore it makes no sense to even mention that she is dressed in woman's clothing. There is nothing remarkable or relevant to the story about a young woman wearing women's clothing.
The story was rightfully careful to leave out her name. Why include unnecessary information in a derogatory way about her gender?
I'd be happy to provide you and your staff information and training about gender diversity. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of service.
FTM Sonoma County
Such a shame
I am not sure you are aware of the differences between "transvestites" and transgender individuals. Your language is clearly archaic and in need of some fine-tuning. I am a transgender man living in Healdsburg, and I do not know if you realize the severity of the danger you could be putting this minor in by outing her to the public. Then you misrepresented her by putting a picture of an entirely different person in the paper when you published the story. Do you know that MTF women are targeted every day for sexual and physical violence at the hands of those who misunderstand? We do not need your help in it.
I do not happen to share the views this young woman does about Cyrus, but misrepresenting someone in my community is offensive, especially from a magazine so much of its readers consider as a resource for factual information.
I suggest some education surrounding transgender issues. I am sure there are plenty of transgender people out there willing to give it if one would be willing to receive.
I am currently filming a documentary about my life in Healdsburg and have faced tremendous adversity. Nowhere in this article was there a need to publish the status of her gender. It is irrelevant and such a shame.
Send a letter to the editor about this story.