Update on 20 November: This callout, as it was written below, was originally for transgender writers. I had wondered whether the list should include both transgender writers and writers with intersex variations, but had been wary of contributing to the conflation of trans and intersex issues that is already pervasive. However, today’s media commentary on Taylor Lianne Chandler, Michael Phelps’ lover, and the conflation that has stirred up, has prompted this list to be expanded to writers with intersex variations, in part to address this very problem.
Some years ago, Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper ran a front page article about the gender transition of a police officer in my home state of Victoria, Australia. The headline? “Sex Swap Cop”.
At the time that I read it, I was going through a vulnerable period with regard to my own gender transition. Fortunately, my transition was not deemed worthy of coverage by the Herald Sun. I was not a police officer – although I was already many years into my career as a writer and, at the time, I knew of no other trans writers in Australia with significant publication records (outside of published full-length memoirs of gender transition, which is not to devalue such memoirs). This situation has since changed and has in part prompted this blog post.
More recently, media coverage of the murder of Mayang Prasetyo has drawn much-needed attention to the inadequacies of reportage on transgender people in Australia. Although the coverage by The Courier-Mail newspaper drew the most criticism, I was nonetheless disappointed by some other coverage, including an article on the ABC News website that unnecessarily mentioned Prasetyo’s birth name. In fact, while the coverage by The Courier-Mail justifiably attracted condemnation, that outcry overshadowed other instances of coverage that were in some way lacking but largely went un-critiqued or were even the target of widespread praise.
During this period of coverage, I was reminded once again that major media reportage about trans people is overwhelmingly written by cisgender people. So, in order to make an inroad or two into addressing this problem in Australia, I’ve created a callout:
Thanks to everyone who has already spread the word about this initiative or offered assistance in other ways. Please keep spreading the word and offering your help. If you’re a writer who wants to be added to the list, please contact me. I’m also seeking journalists who might be able to pass on the eventual list to their editors and, of course, I’m seeking editors who would be interested in receiving the list.
The creation of this list does not, of course, posit that cisgender people are incapable, or are even less capable than transfolk, of writing in nuanced and sensitive ways about the lives of transgender people. In fact, something else I find problematic is uncritically reverential responses by (well-meaning) cisgender people to transfolks’ perspectives on trans issues. I hope that the creation of this list doesn’t encourage more of this either. These and other caveats aside, I hope that this list can help to create some opportunities – not only for trans writers, but for (likely cisgender) editors and, of course, for readerships in Australia spanning all gender identities.