Editorial Board: An Apology to the Trans and Non-Binary Communities

On Sept. 19, TSL published a graphic entitled “Trans Vocabulary” that attempted to define and pictorially represent some of the major terms and descriptions of gender identities now accepted by the trans community. As readers noted, the graphic was flawed in several respects. It contained inaccurate definitions that were not drawn from reputable sources. Furthermore, the diagrams oversimplified gender identities and insensitively reduced definitions of gender to symbols.

As a newspaper, we aim to report the truth. We seek to accurately and equally represent all members of our community. We failed to uphold these goals, a failure we deeply regret. Moreover, we apologize specifically for the harm we caused the trans and non-binary communities on campus by perpetuating the stereotypes that inflict daily violence upon their lives.

To avoid making similar harmful mistakes in the future, we are taking steps to educate ourselves, the rest of our editorial staff and our reporting staff about the best practices for providing accurate, sensitive and thoughtful coverage of trans issues.

We personally met with Queer Resource Center director Adriana di Bartolo and program coordinator Al Forbes to address the mistakes that we made and the steps we can take to move forward. With gratitude for their counsel, we present below a more accurate list of definitions of the terms we printed in the graphic, and a list of resources for trans and non-binary individuals, as well as for students questioning their gender and those striving to be allies.

Moreover, we strongly encourage all members of the community to observe Trans Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, an event to remember trans people who have died and to recognize the historical and continued violence perpetuated against trans people.  

None of these steps excuse the graphic that we published. However, we hope that we can be a better ally to the trans and non-binary communities, and to all marginalized communities on campus, going forward.

TSL is here for you. We are not an intractable, faceless entity. We are students who, despite our mistakes or failures, care deeply about all members of the community, and we encourage anyone who believes we have failed our community to reach out to us in person, via email, on Facebook or Twitter, or through the more formal mechanisms of a letter to the editor or Opinions column.

Definitions

The following terms were included in the Sept. 19 graphic. The definitions presented here have been revised to reflect current language used by the trans and non-binary communities. This list is not exhaustive; there are many more terms used by people to describe their gender identity, and definitions are personal and could vary by individual. Make sure that you respect and use the terms that people use for themselves.

transgender: A term used by individuals whose gender identity or expression differs from conventional expectations for their assigned sex at birth. For example, someone who was assigned female at birth but identifies and lives as a man may describe themselves as a transgender man. Someone who was assigned male at birth but identifies and lives as a woman may describe themselves as a transgender woman. Trans is sometimes used as an umbrella term for any person who challenges the gender associated with their assigned sex at birth through their behaviors and/or the way they identify. Some members of the trans community prefer the umbrella term trans*. 

agender: A term used by an individual who feels they do not fall on the gender spectrum, are internally ungendered, or feel that they do not have a gender.  

cisgender: A term used by an individual whose gender identity and expression aligns with that which was assigned to them based on their physical sex at birth. For example, someone assigned female at birth and identifies as a woman could be considered a cisgender woman.

genderqueer: A term used by individuals who reject the idea that there are only two genders and feel that they are neither man nor woman, but are between, beyond, or a combination of genders. Some, but not all, genderqueer people identify under the trans umbrella.

gender fluid: A term used by an individual whose gender identity and/or expression fluctuates.

bigender: A term used by an individual whose gender identity and/or expression is a combination of man and woman.

Sources: Al Forbes, the Queer Resource Center of the Claremont Colleges, the Gender Equity Resource Center at UC Berkeley, the Georgia State University and University of Georgia Safe Zone Facilitator Manual, and the GLAAD Media Reference Guide on Transgender Issues 

Resources:

Education & Information

The Queer Resource Center of the Claremont Colleges — pomona.edu/administration/qrc

UC Davis LGBTQIA Resource Center — lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu

UC Riverside LGBTQIA Resource Center — out.ucr.edu

National LGBTQ Task Force — thetaskforce.org

Legal Support

Sylvia Rivera Law Project — srlp.org  

Transgender Law Center — transgenderlawcenter.org