Genderqueer in Journalism

Way back in December, I was interviewed for an article titled The Shadow Sex, which appeared in San Francisco Magazine, both in print and online.

Later, the accompanying photography series by Chloe Aftel got picked up by several news media outlets some of which continued to build on the stories of genderqueer and non-binary individuals, as well as the photographer herself. Here are some sources that re-distributed it:


And then it began to appear in other countries and languages…

In the midst of that media storm, I was interviewed and featured in Vanity Fair (Italia): Non sono né donna, né uomo.

It’s interesting how just one article spun off into so many, and with such wide reach. I’m grateful for the increased visibility of non-binary people and our lives. (I’ll withhold further commentary on the articles themselves.)

What I’d like to see from future journalists on the subject is deeper coverage on:

  • acknowledging that gender identities outside of male or female exist.
  • the unique obstacles we face as individuals finding our place in a world in which our gender does not exist: in legal forms, in the medical world, in clothing stores and pronouns, we are erased and invisible.
  • the cycle of discrimination in healthcare, employment, family, and society that leads to disenfranchised communities: gender non-conforming individuals are kicked out of their homes and communities, fired from their jobs, harassed, untreated by doctors, or simply emotionally overwhelmed from lack of support.
  • positive acceptance and other ways people can help, such as awareness, self education, and advocating for our rights.
  • how our identities can prompt a dialogue on what gender means to everybody else, because we still have a long way to go in terms of gender equality and respect.

Fortunately, a few reporters are slowly picking up on this trend of “getting it right” and setting the precedent for a new standard. After speaking with Monica Hesse about a possible article on non-binary gender, I was pleased to read the result of months of research: “When No Gender Fits” an in-depth profile on the front page of The Washington Post.

Following that article, many bloggers pointed out how it would be great to see more diversity among those generally featured. I believe this speaks to the dearth of journalism on the subject of genderqueer identities, and the untapped potential for rich, engaging, thoughtful stories one could find within this vibrant community.

12 thoughts on “Genderqueer in Journalism

  1. It would also be great if there was attention given to older people coming out as non-binary – I find it a bit lonely and harder for people to understand, particularly when your visual appearance is not in line with how you feel.

    1. I thought a similar thing after reading some of the articles on Chloe’s project. The project is very much not just about “young adults”. I was photographed by Chloe after reading about the project from Micah on tumblr. I’m 38 and I attend a genderqueer support group in Berkeley that has people from their late teens up through their 60s. We’re really quite varied.

  2. We lucked out when it comes to doctors. Our doctor didn’t understand what I meant when I said Jeremy identifies as non-binary trans but as soon as Jeremy explained that if gender was a cupcake, zie’d be a blue cupcake with pink frosting, our doctor replied with, “Oh, you’re bi-gender.”

    Jeremy’s currently mad at my new bathroom scale because it asks for a male or female option. Zie filched my old scale and is using that one instead. And zir health card is set to male… and there’s only male/female options for our passports. Zie’s got a long road ahead of zir.

    It’s great seeing those articles!

    1. That’s what I think is the primary purpose of these articles – they plant the seed in people’s minds about these words, identities, what they mean, when they wouldn’t normally be exposed to any of it. When they actually meet someone who’s non-binary it’s not as “out there” anymore.

      (Also, +1 for pronouns! You rock!)

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