The Media is actually Sensitive?!


Lauren Thomason, Reporter

Remember the days of ridicule, mean comments, and bullying that the media used to give to transgender individuals? Long gone are those days as the media gets with the times for once and actually is accepting of the fact that not all people are exactly the same.

In today’s day and age where society seems to be more progressive, it is great to see the media finally promote this as well. While Sweden actually changed its language–introducing the pronoun “hen” into their vocabulary a few years ago in order to exhibit sensitivity towards transgendered people–the typically slower-to-change America is at least moving towards this sensitivity in the best way it can, through media.

In particular, the media is being much more sensitive towards Bruce Jenner and his current reason for media exposure. Of course there are still some looks being thrown at Jenner, but this time around the looks are mostly just looks of curiosity. Rather than being looked down upon by the public, Jenner is being applauded for his bold decision.

The New York Times, one of America’s most well known news sources, does a great job of being sensitive to the topic. Their article about Jenner focuses on his athletic career and how he, an Olympic athlete, is dealing with this situation and finding himself in whatever way he sees fit. The article goes even further to express how heroic and inspiring it is that someone of his public stature is able to embrace his gender identity, and how he may be able to influence other people to do the same.

Even articles from sources more in line with pop culture have been more sensitive to the topic. A recent People Magazine article about Jenner never suggests that what he is doing is wrong nor that it should be something that is looked down upon. In reference to the alleged sex change, People Magazine reporter, Aili Nahas, seems to use the word “happy” more frequently than any other description of the event. Nahas is sensitive to Jenner’s situation as she gets the point across that the only important thing is whether or not Jenner himself is happy.

Of course, there is still some humor made in bad taste, and a few magazines that seem to know how to walk the line in between what is okay and what is not okay such as inTouch Magazine’s edited picture of Jenner morphed with Stephanie Beacham. However, even with their cover being in horribly bad taste, other media forms such as ET online made it clear that this was unacceptable when they covered the outraged response of the public to this magazine cover.

Clearly, the media is making a step in the right direction as they get with the times and realize that being transgender is completely normal. Many people just feel that they were simply born into the wrong body. Jenner’s story has simply highlighted this change in media, but if looking even further into the media’s recent change you can see that they look upon transgender individuals with a newfound sense of respect.

There are many other cases of the media being particularly sensitive to the topic in addition to that of Jenner’s story. One particularly well-known person for accepting and confidently displaying their being transgender is the Orange is the New Black star, Laverne Cox. She has been on many covers of magazines and mentioned in various articles for her gender identity. In these articles, not once is it ever mentioned that her decision is wrong; everything is particularly upbeat and supportive. Another big promoter of the transgender community is an Amazon original comedy all about a family whose paternal character decides that he wants to be a she. This relatively new show is called Transparent, and after only one season it won the Golden Globe award for best tv show–musical or comedy. The media has been extremely accepting of this, and the majority of the public’s response has been positive. One more example of the media’s sensitivity to the topic is the Mercury’s response to the official announcement that Congressman Mike Honda’s grandchild is transgender. In the article by Mercury News reporter Julia Sulek, the female pronoun is used throughout the article in order to provide the due respect for the gender role that 8-year-old Malisa, formerly Brody, identifies with.

Media has come a long way from the articles of disgust and disapproval that it once used to publish in such matters. Perhaps if the media is changing then that reflects that society as a whole is moving towards being more sensitive and understanding in the subject of gender identity. If someone believes that they are meant to be a boy or girl then why should someone else tell them that they are not allowed to? The media is finally realizing this and being extremely understanding in the current abundance of transgender stories.