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We need to prevent anti-trans misinformation from even reaching the headlines
Queer Gaze

We need to prevent anti-trans misinformation from even reaching the headlines

Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir They/them Or SHE/HER Queer, non-binary, trans, woman, pansexual, Icelandic, feminist Trans Advocate, Feminist and Writer

It’s no secret that trans people are experiencing heightened levels of hate crimes and abuse in the UK, and beyond.

In recent months we have seen the trial of Brianna Ghey’s murder conclude. The trial confirmed that the brutal murder was in part motivated by her being trans. 

More recently, an 18 year old trans girl was assaulted and stabbed at a roller-skating party in London

In the US, Nex Benedict was physically assaulted in the girl’s bathroom at their school in February, suffering serious head trauma and injuries. It was later reported they had taken their own life as a result. 

These are all direct results of the increased transphobia and anti-trans sentiments we see plastered all over the news and on social media almost daily. 

Never have news platforms had more articles about trans issues, some of them releasing over ten articles a day. The coverage is disproportionate and rarely about how trans people are being treated poorly in society, despite research showing quite clearly how trans people are suffering.

It is, therefore more important than ever that our media is sensitive and respectful of trans people and their identities. Sadly, we have seen many cases recently of trans teenagers like Brianna and Nex being routinely misgendered and their identities disrespected and disregarded.

The media has also downplayed the significance of how being trans played a pivotal part in all of this, despite research showing clearly that trans people are predominantly victims of violent crimes rather than perpetrators.

The media and politicians refuse to take responsibility for their part, and don’t acknowledge how the repeated and constant negative media coverage and comments on trans lives actually impact on the day-to-day lives of trans people. We’ve seen this again this week in reporting on the Cass Review, which has aided and abetted the anti-trans movement in weaponising the story..

But most of us who are aware of the current media climate know that there are also journalists and other people working in the media who genuinely don’t know any better. They are unsure about how to make sure coverage is respectful. Many don’t want to fall into tired tropes and false narratives about trans lives.

The style guide from the Trans Journalist Association is a great resource that needs to be shared further. It gives vital insight into how to ensure that coverage is as respectful as possible. 

This is vital amid a sharp rise of reported hate crimes against trans people in recent years. We need an intervention now to turn this around. Without wanting to sound fatalistic, it is important to acknowledge that we are at a critical point. What exactly is it going to take for us as a society to see it? And how are we going to turn it around?

We need more LGBTQIA+ people, especially from transgender and gender-diverse backgrounds, in the newsroom directly tackling this issue at its source. Preventing misinformation from even reaching the headlines while helping the media understand our lives. 

Meanwhile, as a queer community, we need to unite and learn from our history. An attack on one of us, is an attack on all of us - let’s all respond as such.

They/them Queer, non-binary, trans, woman, pansexual, Icelandic, feminist  Ugla Stefanía Or SHE/HER Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir Ugla is a queer, trans and feminist advocate and writer. They co-run My Genderation, act as an advisor to narrative change group All About Trans and are the author of Trans Teen Survival Guide and Trans Survival Workbook.
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