There are wrong and right ways to talk about transgender people and issues in the media. I must admit I was hopeful that news outlets would be more aware of how transgender people were talked about in the media because of Chelsea Manning and the work of national organizations to educate the media.
Recent events in Baton Rouge have shown this not to be true. The Advocate has rightfully criticized the local Baton Rouge Advocate for the mishandling of coverage of the murder of a transgender woman in Baton Rouge:
The Baton Rouge paper’s coverage of Hartley’s murder repeatedly uses the derogatory word “transvestite,” in addition to male pronouns and numerous mentions of Hartley’s arrests for prostitution.
Unfortunately, this woman’s experience is not unique. Transgender people are harassed, mistreated and killed at alarming rates in the United States, and when the media pays any attention to these horrific events, it is usually only in a sensationalist manner.
According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 27% of transgender people report incomes of $20,000 or lower and more than 15% report incomes of $10,000 or lower. Only 7% percent of the general population reports incomes of $10,000 or lower. This high percentage of transgender people who live in poverty is not surprising if you also consider the fact that 97% of transgender people experience mistreatment, harassment or discrimination at work.
It is for this reason that transgender people desperately need employment and housing protections. People who are homeless and/or unemployed often turn to high-risk activities in order to survive. This leads them into even more dangerous situations.
by Micah Caswell