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When it comes to coverage of ABC’s Bruce Jenner interview, reporters are on notice: Don’t fixate on his appearance and don’t “misgender” him. And if you focus on his genitalia, you run the risk of being labeled a “conservative.”
Those are among the guidelines issued Friday by Media Matters for America, a progressive group that watches the media, perhaps most famous for coverage of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and, most recently, Bill O’Reilly.
Jenner’s interview by Diane Sawyer is scheduled to appear Friday night on 20/20, and Media Matters sent its missive to journalists nationwide earlier that day. It consists of a list of do’s and don’ts.
“Don’t fixate on Jenner’s appearance,” is the No. 1 “don’t” on the list. “Focusing on transgender people’s appearances — especially on how well they ‘pass’ — is degrading and objectifying. It turns trans people into spectacles,” according to Media Matters.
The top “do” on the list is to highlight the realities of being transgender. “Most trans people are not famous, wealthy, white reality television stars,” Media Matters says. “The transgender community — and trans women of color in particular — faces high levels of discrimination, harassment, and violence, which in turn contributes to higher levels of poverty, homelessness, and economic marginalization.”
Using proper terminology is also very important, says Media Matters. “Don’t misgender trans people, use the correct pronouns,” the organization said, linking to GLAAD guidelines.
“Don’t focus on surgery,” is another note from Media Matters. “Focusing on body parts of transgender people — especially on genitalia — is a common practice in conservative media because it similarly objectifies trans people and reduces their lives and experiences to a list of medical procedures.”
Media Matters also says, “Do explain the benefits of transitioning,” but “Don’t conflate sexual orientation and gender identity.”
“There’s no reason to speculate about Jenner’s past or future romantic relationships,” says Media Matter.
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