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GLAAD AND EQUALITY OHIO RELEASE FACT SHEET FOR REPORTERS COVERING STATE LEGISLATION ABOUT TRANSGENDER PEOPLE AND YOUTH
- Last updated: December 5, 2023
(Columbus, OH and New York, NY, December 5, 2023) — GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, and Equality Ohio, a statewide organization advancing the rights and protecting the well-being of LGBTQ+ Ohioans, are releasing a factsheet for reporters to accurately and inclusively cover state legislation, hearings and votes about transgender people, youth, including about their essential health care.
Reporters and news outlets are urged to elevate facts and follow journalism best practices for covering vulnerable communities and their private, mainstream health care, including basics such as:
- Health care for transgender people and youth is supported by every leading medical association. 30+ statements here from groups including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, The Endocrine Society, and The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
- Health care for transgender people is mainstream, consensus care. It is inaccurate to say there is a “debate” in the medical community. Opposition is fueled by anti-LGBTQ groups and politicians who have also opposed marriage equality, LGBTQ adoption, and anti-discrimination protections. Bills targeting transgender health care are rooted in anti-LGBTQ bias, not a medical “debate.”
- Many state witnesses are recruited and supported by longtime national anti-LGBTQ groups like Alliance Defending Freedom. Research and report these connections. Many witnesses’ anti-LGBTQ records are documented via the GLAAD Accountability Project, including testimony rejected for lack of credibility and expertise. Many witnesses have no expertise in medical, sports, or education professions, but have become wealthy as paid spokespeople to spread disinformation about transgender people and allies. In addition, the same small group of witnesses traveling state to state and to other hearings to claim they regret transitioning reflect less than 1% of the transgender population; 99% of transgender people say they are satisfied with their transition – research here.
- Guidelines for transgender health care are set by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), founded in 1979, compiled by more than 3,000 members worldwide to provide scientific, medical and professional clinical consensus best practice care.
- Accurately report treatment as safe and effective: Puberty blockers can be prescribed as a child reaches puberty to pause unwanted physical effects of a puberty incongruent with one’s gender identity. Research shows access to puberty blockers during adolescence is associated with a significant decrease in suicidal ideation. Doctors have prescribed these medications safely for decades for cisgender children who experience precocious puberty and other non-LGBTQ people. Ask if the bill targeting transgender health care would apply to non-transgender patients’ treatments and procedures.
- The Journal of Adolescent Health found that hormone therapy resulted in lower rates of depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts among older transgender and nonbinary teens.
- Challenge or do not repeat harmful, inaccurate rhetoric including inflammatory claims about transgender health care as “castration” and “mutilation.” Health care for transgender minors includes non-intervention mental health care and social support such as using correct pronouns, names and titles (“daughter” or “son”), as well as allowing authentic gender expression (hair, clothes, shoes, etc.). Research shows that using a trans youth’s authentic name and pronouns improves mental health and reduces suicidal ideation.
- Report the coordinated national effort to target LGBTQ people with state legislation: In 2023, more than 500 bills were introduced in state legislatures to restrict access to school sports, health care, books and inclusive curriculum, and restrooms. None of these bills are based on facts, evidence of harm, or expertise, nor are they supported by professionals who care for LGBTQ people and youth.
- Report consequences and harms of bills targeting LGBTQ youth:
- 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth — and 66% of all LGBTQ youth — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health.
- 52% of trans and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 1 in 5 attempted suicide.
- 36% of LGBTQ youth reported being physically threatened or harmed due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
CHECKLIST FOR MEDIA: REPORTING ON TRANSGENDER PEOPLE AND HEALTHCARE
Seek expertise over opinion and include facts and statements from experts in transgender health care.
Seek quotes and background from transgender people in any story about transgender people or youth. Their lived experience is valuable to help readers and viewers understand trans people exist, live full and healthy lives, and receive health care that is safe and lifesaving.
Accurately report the widely-held consensus about the safety and efficacy of transgender healthcare.
Avoid elevating singular oppositional voices or rare cases in equal weight to the consensus and preponderance of evidence – doing so is inaccurate storytelling.
Challenge people making negative claims about transgender healthcare to provide facts and evidence for claims. Include fact checks of quotes and claims in your reporting.
Check for and include critics’ history of advocating against LGBTQ people. The GLAAD Accountability Project has profiles of public figures and groups and their records of targeting LGBTQ people.
Avoid “both sides” reporting. Efforts to restrict or remove evidence-based healthcare are not a “debate” or a “culture war,” they are one-sided, baseless attacks against transgender people. Recognize trans people and youth are people, not a “side,” and like any human being, want to be themselves and be safe.
Include the benefits of evidence-based healthcare to the health and wellbeing of trans youth.
Include research on harms to vulnerable youth from efforts to take away their health care, and access to school activities and facilities as their authentic selves.
Safety and Security Considerations. Confirm if interviewees are comfortable using their full name, only their first name, or a pseudonym, and sharing their physical identity (i.e., would they like to be on camera or not?) Do not reveal or visually show their location, home, workplace or school – no addresses, street signs, or clear landmarks should be displayed in the interview.
Informed Consent. Be clear to transgender storytellers with the specifics of your outlet and audience. Obtain their consent to continue the interview once that information is provided. Ask what areas of their transition story are off limits. Give them the opportunity to decide what is on record and off record.
About Equality Ohio: Equality Ohio identifies and transforms systems and institutions so LGBTQ+ Ohioans can fully access legal and lived equality. Equality Ohio envisions an Ohio where people are welcome, affirmed and flourishing.
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
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