How to Cover the Trans Community Respectfully

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Sep 21, 2020

Hardly anything makes a community join forces faster than when they are continually misrepresented, as has been the case with the trans community. To better support trans journalists as they navigate careers, workplaces and reporting, more than 200 journalists got together and launched the Trans Journalists Association (TJA) on the last day of this year’s Pride Month (June).

“We are a collective of trans journalists who have felt erased and misrepresented by the industry at large,” TJA posted on Twitter when announcing the organization, whose goal is to  provide “guidance to newsrooms for more accurate coverage of trans communities.” 


“We kept seeing stories that really disrespected trans people (and) devalued their lives in our communities, and language that was really rooted in sexism,” Oliver-Ash Kleine, a founding member of TJA, told E&P. “It was this ongoing frustration with a lot of trans journalists that I was in a community with and we realized that we were uniquely positioned to push back and to make a difference.”

TJA is filling a crucial void in journalism. Membership is not only free and open to any trans person who works in the media, according to TJA’s website, but the site also includes resources for employers to make workplaces more equitable and a style guide to help all journalists cover media about the trans community respectfully—featuring a glossary of terms and phrases to avoid. The day after the organization went public, Fast Company reported that 100 people had joined, including reporters from Canada and the United Kingdom.   

“I’m pleasantly surprised by the overwhelmingly positive feedback to our launch, but I know there’s lots of transphobia in the world and on social media,” Kam Burns, a reporter at Wired and a TJA organizing committee member told Fast Company. “Trans people getting more of a voice in media is definitely going to help.”

On September 18, TJA and the Society of Professional Journalists launched The Race & Gender Hotline for any journalist on deadline to instantly consult experts on the best ways to report on sensitive topics.  

To learn more about TJA and how to become a member, visit their website here, and stay educated by following them on Twitter.