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Trans Journalists Association rolls out ‘refreshed’ style guide

TJA’s ‘refreshed’ style guide is even more confusing than the previous version. Credit: Getty

September 11, 2023 - 5:30pm

Last week, the Trans Journalists Association rolled out a “refreshed” style guide sharing “editorial best practices” for covering transgender issues. As the debate over paediatric gender clinics, detransitioners, women’s rights, sports, prisons, and schools heats up, this guide provides a way for ideologically compliant reporters to cover these issues without saying much of anything at all. 

Let’s start with the basics and then look at a few of the touchiest subjects. 

First off, reporters shouldn’t refer to anyone as “male-bodied” or “female-bodied”, or “trans-identified”, “male-identified”, or “female-identified”. These terms, according to the style guide, are “confusing and inaccurate phrasing, which can conflate gender identity and sex assigned at birth”. Specifically, this language risks “confusing” readers in the wrong way: by drawing a distinction between sex and gender identity when the style guide wants no such distinctions to be made. Reporters should “avoid using biological in reference to people”. 

Instead, the guide pushes the use of “assigned sex” or “assigned gender”, terms appropriated from rare disorders of sexual development and applied to people with no such disorders whose sex was accurately observed at birth. The note that “[a]ssigned sex and gender are concepts specific to humans […] in discussions of nonhuman animals, sex is sufficient” has strong “Does a chicken cry?” vibes but also cuts against frequent activist references to the gender-bending animal kingdom, and is thus unlikely to survive the style guide’s next round of edits. 

In any case, there is a much more succinct way to write all this up: just don’t refer to sex. The roles males and females evolved to play in human reproduction — and any social and political fallout from reproductive difference — is strictly off-limits, even though none of us would be here to argue about this nonsense if not for these most basic facts of human existence. 

The guide then moves on to the thorny subject of trans healthcare, where — readers will be relieved to hear — there’s nothing to worry about. “Gender-affirming care” is “a very broad term” that “may also be used to refer to cosmetic or medical procedures pursued for gender affirmation regardless of whether the patient is transgender”, like when a woman with breast cancer seeks reconstructive surgery after undergoing a mastectomy. 

Evidently, the goal here is to make “gender-affirming care” so diffuse and meaningless as to permit the widest possible dishonesty on the part of activists and clinicians who advocate for controversial interventions like puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries under that heading. 

There’s also sleight of hand here that the guide’s authors hope readers won’t notice: cross-sex hormones don’t “guarantee” infertility, but when a child’s pubertal development is blocked early enough — sorry, I think I’m supposed to say “when a child has their gender affirmed at the right time”— and that child goes onto cross-sex hormones, he or she will be rendered sterile, as will patients who undergo a number of other “gender-affirming” interventions, like oophorectomies and orchiectomies. “Mutilation” is a judgement, but “sterilisation” isn’t: for too many of these patients, it’s a fact they’ll have to live with for the rest of their lives. 

The most important euphemism of all, is, of course, the “transgender child” herself. After all, if kids are simply “trans” — whatever that means — and experimental interventions are just another form of “gender-affirming care”, no more controversial than going to a salon to freshen up one’s roots, there’s nothing to talk about. 

But hand over the language and activists can define all opposition as mere prurience. Further, phrases like “transgenderism, gender ideology, trans ideology, trans agenda” and “trans activists” are merely, as the guide suggests, “loaded terms that anti-trans activists use to describe transgender people”.

And what if one wants to report on this bold new social movement, with its strange sway over our institutions and will to bend language to its cause? The message behind this style guide is clear: don’t think of it as a movement, even as it shakes the ground under one’s feet.


Eliza Mondegreen is a graduate student in psychiatry and the author of Writing Behavior on Substack.

elizamondegreen

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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
10 months ago

I can’t keep track of all this terminology. Is a trans journalist somebody who was assigned another career at birth but now identifies as a journalist, like Lady Sara Wilson, or is it somebody who is a journalist but identifies as having another career, like Piers Morgan?

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago

Very good!

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
10 months ago

Where is a sex kept prior to it being assigned ?

In a box ?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Definitely not a sexpot.

Andrew H
Andrew H
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Bravo!

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
10 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Like a modern day Schrodinger’s Cat

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Wise

Hahaha 😀
Love the comments!

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
10 months ago

Why would editors and journalists give a moments thought to a “style guide” produced by a pressure group of trans ideologues?
By definition this is not objectively determined terminology Rather it is scientific misinformation, outright lies , dishonesty and cringeworthy euphemisms that serve only one side of a deeply contested political issue. It is actively designed to hide the abhorrent truth about the trans movement.
All pressure groups would like to dictate the terminology that is used when reporting on their particular campaign. But if they tried issuing a “style guide” for editors and journalists they would be quite rightly ignored. I hope this rubbish meets the same response.

Last edited 10 months ago by Marcus Leach
Janet G
Janet G
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

This style guide will no doubt be used by media that are”captured” by trans organisations. The Australian Broadcasting Commission is an enthusiastic endorser of all things recommended by ACON (which used to be about people with HIV, but which now is all about trans). The Guardian is another captured medium.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

A/ An entire generation (or two now) of their staff are trans ideologues.

David Webb
David Webb
10 months ago

This will probably become standard practice across all mainstream media within days.

Maurice Austin
Maurice Austin
10 months ago
Reply to  David Webb

Without question. After the short-lived “two million genders means two million pronouns” storm passed around 2020, and activists settled on over-using, mutilating and misusing “they”, within seconds the media here in Australia were straight-faced using “they” as an absolute universal, along the lines of: “when Mary’s husband left, they went straight to the lawyers”.
Now, which one sought the legal help again?
And these are the same people who constantly bleat that we have to be super-careful with language!

Cynthia W.
Cynthia W.
10 months ago
Reply to  David Webb

It didn’t take long after the first public proclamation of “birthing persons” for “woman” and “mother” to disappear from all journalism regarding human reproduction.

Janet G
Janet G
10 months ago
Reply to  Cynthia W.

Yes and in Australia will the word “mother” disappear from the national census? Consultations are underway for planning the 2026 census and those who are concerned are busy writing submissions.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
10 months ago

When someone tells me their child is trans, I regard them with the same level of skepticism as I would when someone tells me their dog is vegan.

NB: the CAPTCHA warning really is a pain in the butt.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
10 months ago

This new guidance is double plus good!

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
10 months ago

Before, and especially since, 1984, it has been recognized that he who commands the language commands the discussion. Anyone who values open expression and unambiguous argument must reject this terminological tripe.

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
10 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

Absolutely right.

William Cameron
William Cameron
10 months ago

Anyone else notice two consistent themes in all this ?
Its predominantly men wanting access to women in vulnerable private places.
And there is an unhealthy wish to involve children.

AC Harper
AC Harper
10 months ago

Sex is determined at conception. Gender expectations are inferred at birth.
Was that so hard? It’s not critical of people whose individual preferences run counter to social expectations but I suppose the definitions undermine the activists determination to ‘assign’ victimhood.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
10 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Sex is determined at conception and formally identified at birth. It is true that whoever records the sex at birth has no idea if the child will prefer pink or blue when he/she is older or will find either wearing a dress or a suit abhorrent.

Janet G
Janet G
10 months ago

and what century we are living in. Pink and blue have swapped “genders” in recent times.

David Yetter
David Yetter
10 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Why is it hard? It was once observed that it is hard to get someone to believe something if their paycheck depends on their not believing it. The same applies when it isn’t money, but social influence that is at stake.

Last edited 10 months ago by David Yetter
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago

There used to be one style guide, from the Associated Press. Is the regime media supposed to recognize 100 different style guides? No one else will, that’s for sure.

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago

How we talk about people, things, and ideas has a huge material impact. Subtle choices between phrases can reinforce certain world views and messaging is crucial to the advancement of political movements.

Yo – go trans you say. But no, this is in fact from a different style guide:

https://everydayfeminism.com/2018/06/feminist-editors-style-guide/

It’s almost as if trans activists learned their MO (not to mention most of their theory) from the feminist movement.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
10 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Feminism is about being female, which is real. ‘Trans’ is imaginary. There is no equivalence whatsoever. The first is about fighting misogyny, the second is a product of it.

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago

Though if gender is a social construct, I guess being female is “imaginary” too.

It also makes little sense to set feminism and trans activism in opposition. Contrary to the way the lines are drawn on Unherd, they have much in common, in terms of intellectual heritage, tactics and support base.

Anti trans feminists are pretty much a splinter group of the broader feminism movement. The groups that are pushing trans in our schools, businesses and institutions are pushing feminism too.

Fiona English
Fiona English
10 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Being female (or male) is a biological reality. Gender is how society expects females/males to behave/look/dress etc.and as such is a social construct which can differ from one society to another. Hope that helps. Oh, and we are not ‘anti-trans feminists’ as you put it, or ‘a splinter group’, we are feminists who centre women as social, political, cultural actors in the world – just as men (patriarchy?) centre men. The reason feminists speak out – or as you put it – ‘push feminism’ – is to redress the balance, ensure hard won rights and enable women to act equally in all spheres of life.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
10 months ago
Reply to  Fiona English

Well said!
Mr. Morley’s keyboard seems to be running on automatic. I’m sure he’ll fix it when he wakes up from his nap.

David Yetter
David Yetter
10 months ago
Reply to  Fiona English

It has occurred to me that the whole trans movement is an overreaction to the fact that feminism succeeded in allowing females to penetrate male-dominated professions, adopt masculine roles, dress, hair-style,… while there was no compensating social sanction won for males to go into female-dominated professions, adopt feminine roles, dress, hair-style,.. We go to great effort to induce women to go into still-male dominated fields like physics, mathematics, computer science, surgery, finance,… but no effort to induce men to go into counseling psychology, nursing, primary school teaching…. Women can wear trousers and no one blinks, but a man wearing a frock is “in drag” and either looked at askance or bizarrely celebrated.
Declaring oneself to be a “woman” seems to be a work around to allow male human beings in the early 21st century to be feminine. How much better if we simply accepted that just as women can be masculine to one degree or another and still be women, men can be feminine to one degree or another and still be men.

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago

cosmetic or medical procedures pursued for gender affirmation regardless of whether the patient is transgender”, like when a woman with breast cancer seeks reconstructive surgery after undergoing a mastectomy. 

The difference being, of course, that while one affirms both sex and gender, the other affirms “gender” by denying sex.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
10 months ago

Imagine going around thinking people want to write articles about you.

Last edited 10 months ago by Dumetrius
Dumetrius
Dumetrius
10 months ago

.

Last edited 10 months ago by Dumetrius
Ken Charman
Ken Charman
10 months ago

This is an open goal that neither of the two main parties has the guts to kick the ball into. There’s an election victory waiting for whoever swings the boot. What’s the problem? Leather it.

Last edited 10 months ago by Ken Charman
William Cameron
William Cameron
10 months ago

Destroy the correct meaning of words and you destroy society.

William Cameron
William Cameron
10 months ago

“Trans Journalists association” how do we join ? Are there exams? What is the address and phone number ?

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
10 months ago

Monstrous misuse of language.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
10 months ago

The penetration of psychiatry and related public institutions by Queer philosophy or critique still retains the capacity to surprise.
This school of deconstructionism was most active 30 years ago. In the last two decades, however, it’s essentially been taken up by militants and activists even if under the auspices of academia. Access to the public, the practicing health professions and public associations in healthcare has also been vital via mainstream publishing.
The kernel is the doctrine that any notion of sexed or sexual identity can be rationalised to its ‘epistemic overdetermination’ of human identity by a particular ‘historical’ narrative and power complex. In effect, the evolution of gender politics as advocated by the most influential theorists in this domain means that today’s episteme can happily define human identity in terms of a fluid, transformable non-binary-gendered system of knowledge.
The implication is that bodies should be endless redefinable and physically redetermined within this new episteme of gender ontology which will also purport to provide an epistemological foundation. Others might see this as a massive opportunity for health insurers and plastic surgeons…

Steve Hay
Steve Hay
10 months ago

I find the best approach to trans actives prople is to treat them the same way as I treat every one else, No one is special as far as I am concerned,
I am waiting with bated breath for my first “cancelation “

Melvin Band
Melvin Band
10 months ago

Since a child’s brain on average is not full formed before the age of 18, how in the world can anyone expect the child to make rationa,l knowledgeable, logical decisions before that age- I am in the wrong body, I neeed a sex change etc.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
10 months ago

Yeah, whatever. But really, who cares?!?!?

Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
10 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

When castration, sterilization and mastectomies performed on children is reported under the euphemism: “gender affirming care”, every right minded person should be disgusted at the transparent attempt to hide such inhuman barbarity.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

What I meant is that it is the “association of trans journalists”, hardly something noteworthy. I didn’t even know such a body existed.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
10 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Not only does such a body exist, you must affirm its selection of gender, no matter what it looks like.
That’s right, isn’t it? No? Oh, their. I’m sorry, their. I didn’t mean to hurt their feelings.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
10 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Nor did I, or, I suspect, did most other people. That however is the problem. These lunatics wield tremendous power. Governments, health sectors, schools, major employers, all will listen to these headcases in preference to listening to anyone halfway normal.   

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
10 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Please don’t use the word body ever again!

John Tyler
John Tyler
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Well said! But perhaps the authors of this style guide would find FGM on girls merely a culturally-affirmative act of care; not barbarous in the least!

Andrew H
Andrew H
10 months ago
Reply to  Marcus Leach

Very well said

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
10 months ago

What is the cause of your ongoing and creepy fascination with trans stuff, folks?

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
10 months ago

Probably because this small group of creepy deviants is having such an influence on the institutions of Western countries that they even have previously respected major news organisations referring to men as “she/her”.

David Morley
David Morley
10 months ago

Any theories? We’d all love to hear.

R Wright
R Wright
10 months ago

There is no more blatant an example of a systematic attack on objective reality and societal norms.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
10 months ago

Because creepy and unnatural behaviour fascinates?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
10 months ago

There wasn’t a problem until it became a lingua franca adopted by schools and other government agencies. Much like smoking and drinking, it’s an adult vice that shouldn’t be pushed on to susceptible children. The term ‘gender’ is a Trojan horse for those with a sexual agenda toward children. It’s already starting to happen under the guise of children’s rights. The argument goes that if children are ‘equal’ in all respect to adults who are we to deny them sexual agency? This is not a slippery slope fallacy. This actually happened in the Netherlands under the Children’s Party who campaigned for lowering the age of consent to twelve. Hopefully the LGBQT acronym won’t eventually include the M for Minor-Attracted Persons.