A Guide To Talking About Transgender People In The Media

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jay-kelly2Recently, many media outlets reported that R. Kelly’s child, Jaya Kelly came out as a transgender boy. Reports claim that Jaya would prefer to be called “Jay” and “dresses in boys clothing and emulates the testosterone fueled behavior of boys in her peer group.” Many members of the media reported on this discovery in such an insensitive and uneducated way, that it made me believe that many of us are confused about how to talk about a trans person or are so wrapped up in our own beliefs of sexuality, that insensitivity becomes the default.

Must Read: How Piers Morgan Got It Wrong With Transgender Activist Janet Mock

One blogger, Naturally Moi, took it upon herself to write an article called, “R. Kelly’s daughter is now a boy,” and in it, the blogger (for Black women) made several large mistakes surrounding the facts about transgender individuals. There were many facts missing and a lot of assuming around Jaya’s life and journey, primarily for the sake of spectacle.

I believe the time to stop guessing and start knowing about trans life is now. If we’re going to be talking about it, we should be informed.

  • Gender Reassignment Surgery

Naturally Moi says, “Jay doesn’t appear to have gotten any form of gender reassignment surgery, but does seem comfortable with her new identity.”

Let’s stop calling it gender reassignment surgery. It’s sex reassignment surgery. Labeling it gender implies that the person is changing what gender they identify with and they’re simply changing their sexual organs to match what they identify with. There is no right or wrong way to transition.

  • “R. Kelly’s Daughter Is Now A Boy”

The title of the post was all wrong. The “now” assumes that the individual made a snap judgment and a choice to change themselves overnight. The “now” is insensitive to the individual’s journey. Each person’s journey is their own and the decisions they make around hormones and sex reassignment surgery is up to their own discretion.

  • “Transguy” trend

This is literally implying that transgender is a trend, a fad–a flavor of the month that will slowly fade. Transitioning is a journey, not a phase, not a trend and it’s not temporary.

  • Use proper sources, and don’t rely on Wikipedia

Naturally Moi says, “The only reference we could find on what it means to be a trans guy is wikipedia, which gives this definition -”A trans man (also trans-man or transman) is a female-to-male (FtM) transgender or transsexual person. A trans man is assigned female at birth, but identifies as male.”

Please don’t use Wikipedia as a source when you’re educating the world about something as specific as transgender. It won’t give you the most accurate definition and explanations for the teams you’re looking to define. Guess what will? GLAAD.

Let’s please educate ourselves further on the topic of transgender before we go around diagnosing teenagers who’d rather dress less like a stereotypical girl and more like themselves.


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