Guide for journalists

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Writing about nonbinary people can be tricky if you're unfamiliar with nonbinary issues. There are some mistakes that different journalists commonly make, so this article aims to address the most frequent.

What to do[edit | edit source]

  • Ask the person what their pronouns are, and if necessary, how to use them. Then use the right pronouns in the article. If it's not possible to ask someone what their pronouns are, default to "they/them" or avoid pronouns.
  • If an article is about something other than their nonbinary gender, stick to the subject. Don't ramble on about their gender; something short like "Sam, who is nonbinary, said of their amazing scientific achievement..." rather than "Sam came out as nonbinary seven years ago, and their co-workers accept their gender and..."
  • Consider whether mentioning their gender is even necessary, by substituting a binary gender to see if it feels awkward. "Sam, who is a woman, said of her amazing scientific achievement..." sounds very awkward, so in that sentence shouldn't include someone's gender; inclusive pronouns are enough.
  • Assume that mentioning they're transgender is not necessary or relevant.

What not to do[edit | edit source]

  • Do not mention whether someone was "born a boy/girl" or similar. It's not relevant, and it's often private information. More importantly, even if everyone knows, this information is protected by law under the Equality Act 2010.
  • Do not mention the name someone was given at birth or by their parents. It was chosen before the person was able to articulate their gender and express it accurately. If a person has changed their name, they no longer wish to be known by it; respect that.

Common cliches[edit | edit source]

Avoid where possible!

  • Illustration: toilet doors

External links[edit | edit source]

  • GLAAD Media Reference Guide, specifically GLAAD Media Reference Guide - Transgender Issues. A guide for journalists on how to talk about transgender issues in general. Useful for some points not covered here.
  • Wallace, Lewis Raven (September 30, 2019). "Five tips for journalists on covering trans and nonbinary people". Columbia Journalism Review.
  • Kapitan, Alex (August 31, 2017). "The Radical Copyeditor's Style Guide for Writing About Transgender People". Radical Copyeditor.
  • Trans Journalists Association: Style Guide