Putting People At The Heart Of Every Story
“Trans people are people,” says Quinn Rhodes, an agender journalist. “We’re not an ‘issue’ or a ‘debate’ and it is dehumanising and genuinely harmful to our rights when the media treats us that way. My identity is not a ‘debate’ and trans people are real people whose lives are affected by transphobia every day.”
This is one of the most important guiding principles to remember when it comes to reporting on stories around trans people. It might sound basic, but taking a people-first approach is crucial to navigating away from sensationalist and harmful reporting.
“An honest article on trans people, from my experience, is one that centralises the fact that trans people don’t exist in a bubble or in any particular demographic,” adds Ayla Holdom, an advisor at All About Trans. “As part of natural human variety, people from every conceivable background may just happen to also be trans and are choosing to be open with the world about that.
“Honest reporting remembers that trans people are as connected as anyone, with lives, jobs, friends, communities and loved ones, and with the hopes, responsibilities and potential that come with our society. They are everyday people first and foremost, not a secret sect or philosophical conundrum.”
This also means making an effort to cover trans stories outside of the narrative of pain or policy. “Reporting on trans civil rights, homelessness, and other issues facing trans communities is important,” says the Trans Journalists Association style guide, “but so is telling stories of trans people thriving.” Seeking out stories and diverse voices across all of your coverage is good journalism.