My Recommended Revision to the GLAAD Media Guide

From Facebook:

by Britney Austin
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Reposted with Permission

I have read and reviewed the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Reference Guide regarding the Transgender Glossary of Terms. This is currently located at and my quotations from this were taken on July 19th, 2011.


The classification of people as male or female. At birth, infants are assigned a sex based on a combination of bodily characteristics including: chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs, and genitals.”

Recommended Revision:


The classification of male or female. Sex is primarily based on the following factors: chromosomes, hormones, and anatomy.

Recommended Addition:  Sex Identity—  One’s internal sense of sex.

Recommended Addition:  Gender —  The classification of masculine or feminine. These refer primarily to behavioral, social, and cultural attributes for what is common for one’s sex.

“Gender Identity”

One’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or a boy or girl.) For transgender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own internal sense of gender identity do not match.”

Recommended Revision:  Gender Identity —  One’s internal sense of being masculine or feminine.

 “Gender Expression”

External manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through “masculine,” “feminine” or gender variant behavior, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics. Typically, transgender people seek to make their gender expression match their gender identity, rather than their birth-assigned sex.”

Recommended Revision:  Gender Expression —  The manner in which one demonstrates his or her gender.

“Sexual Orientation”

Describes an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional and/or spiritual attraction to another person. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same. Transgender people may be heterosexual, lesbian, gay, or bisexual. For example, a man who becomes a woman and is attracted to other women would be identified as a lesbian.”

Recommended Revision:  Sexual Orientation  —  One’s attraction to the sexes where heterosexual refers to the state of being primarily attracted to the opposite sex, homosexual refers to the state of being primarily attracted to the same sex, and bisexual refers to the state of being attracted to both sexes in varying degrees.


An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term may include but is not limited to: transsexuals, cross-dressers, and other gender-variant people. Transgender people may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF). Use the descriptive term (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, FTM or MTF) [italics removed] preferred by the individual. Transgender people may or may not choose to alter their bodies hormonally and/or surgically.”

Recommended Revision:  Transgender —  This refers to the state of one’s gender (including gender identity and expression) differing from what is common for one’s sex.

An older term which originated in the medical and psychological communities. Many transgender people prefer the term “transgender” to “transsexual.” Some transsexual people still prefer to use the term to describe themselves. However, unlike transgender, transsexual [italics removed] is not an umbrella term, and many transgender people do not identify as transsexual. It is best to ask which term an individual prefers.”

Recommended Revision:  Transsexual —  One whose internal sense of sex is different from the sex that has been assigned to them.


DEROGATORY see Cross-Dressing [italics removed]”

Recommended Revision:  Transvestite —   Synonym for crossdresser. See Crossdressing.


Altering one’s birth sex is not a one-step procedure; it is a complex process that occurs over a long period of time. Transition includes some or all of the following cultural, legal and medical adjustments: telling one’s family, friends, and/or co-workers; changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents; hormone therapy; and possibly (though not always) some form of surgical alteration.”

Recommended Revision:   Transition —  The process in which one changes his or her sex from what has been assigned to them and/or the process in which one changes his or her gender role from what has been assigned to them and expected of them. These processes include but are not limited to disclosing to others his or her plans to transition, changing one’s name and/or sex on legal documents, undergoing hormone replacement therapy, and undergoing sex reassignment surgery as well as surgeries and/or other procedures that assist in the transition.

 “Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)”

Refers to surgical alteration, and is only one small part of transition (see Transition [italics removed] above). Preferred term to “sex change operation.” Not all transgender people choose to or can afford to have SRS. Journalists should avoid overemphasizing the importance of SRS to the transition process.”

Recommended Revision:  Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) —  One or more surgical procedures for the purpose of changing the primary sex organs from one sex to the other sex as much as is possible with current technology.


To occasionally wear clothes traditionally associated with people of the other sex. Cross-dressers are usually comfortable with the sex they were assigned at birth and do not wish to change it. “Cross-dresser” should NOT be used to describe someone who has transitioned to live full-time as the other sex, or who intends to do so in the future [bold emphasis removed]. Cross-dressing is a form of gender expression and is not necessarily tied to erotic activity. Cross-dressing is not indicative of sexual orientation.”

Recommended Revision:  Crossdressing —  This refers to the practice of wearing clothing and/or accessories typically worn by the other sex. Some individuals refer to themselves as crossdressers while others refer to themselves as transvestites–the synonym of crossdresser.

 “Gender Identity Disorder (GID)”

A controversial DSM-IV diagnosis given to transgender and other gender-variant people. Because it labels people as “disordered,” Gender Identity Disorder is often considered offensive. The diagnosis is frequently given to children who don’t conform to expected gender norms in terms of dress, play or behavior. Such children are often subjected to intense psychotherapy, behavior modification and/or institutionalization. Replaces the outdated term “gender dysphoria.””

Recommended Revision:   Gender Identity Disorder (GID) —  A diagnosis included in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders). This diagnosis is frequently used for the purpose of determining a patient’s eligibility for hormone replacement therapy and sex reassignment surgery.


Describing a person whose biological sex is ambiguous. There are many genetic, hormonal or anatomical variations which make a person’s sex ambiguous (i.e., Klinefelter Syndrome, Adrenal Hyperplasia). Parents and medical professionals usually assign intersex infants a sex and perform surgical operations to conform the infant’s body to that assignment. This practice has become increasingly controversial as intersex adults are speaking out against the practice, accusing doctors of genital mutilation.”

Recommended Revision:  Intersex —  This refers to one with physiological characteristics of both sexes and/or ambiguous sex characteristics including but not limited to chromosomal variations and the presence of ambiguous sex organs or sex organs of both sexes.

My Conclusion:

 I think the GLAAD Media Guide as referenced and quoted above is an example of both political bias and intellectual laziness. So much of the terminology is blended together especially by often treating sex and gender as the same thing. All this guide does is make an already confused public more confused. I do not personally think these concepts are very difficult to understand. A person does not have to take a college course to have a basic grasp on sex, gender, and its related diversity. Such a media guide should simply define the terms without all of the recommendations and unrelated information. If people simply understand what the words mean then they can easily understand the concepts behind them.

The main bias I notice with the current guide is an anti-medical agenda. It attempts to erase the word transsexual and minimizes the importance of medical treatments by making SRS seem insignificant and by essentially dismissing the GID diagnosis altogether. I certainly think that transsexualism should be taken out of the DSM and treated strictly as a medical issue but that is not something that even needs to be discussed in a simple terminology guide. The way in which the guide uses the term transgender to include just about all of the other terms also serves to erase the medical needs of those with transsexualism by comparing these needs to gender behavior. Furthermore, instead of them comparing any of these things to sex, they compare them to birth sex. The main result of this is that it treats a transsexual who has transitioned as someone who is permanently transgender. The way in which I defined these terms allows for a transsexual person to no longer be transsexual after transition. The whole point of transition for a transsexual is to be complete in his or her sex not to perpetually remain in limbo. It is also worth noting the fact that the media guide attempts to erase the term transvestite even though there are crossdressers who prefer that term to describe themselves.


I believe this guide is written as an attempt at both gender deconstruction of society as well as to increase the number of people as well as the length of time those people are included under the LGBT umbrella (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender). The de-medicalization of transsexualism into a gender agenda aims at actually deconstructing the sexes as now nobody is really male or female but somewhere in between. Plus, by including practically everything as transgender or gender variant, now practically everyone would fall under the T and thus under LGBT. I do not think this is all a coincidence. I think there is a deliberate agenda behind this and primarily a destructive force. The guide basically exploits the medical conditions and birth challenges of intersex and transsexual people for the purposes of this gender deconstruction and at the same time tries to stamp out the scientific and medical legitimacy of those conditions. For those who think I’m way off track here, do me a favor and read that GLAAD guide closely. Read between the lines. It isn’t just what is being said, it is what is not being said.

Britney AustinFeel free to distribute my recommendations (with credit given to me). Feel free to post feedback including constructive criticism.

4 Responses to “My Recommended Revision to the GLAAD Media Guide”

  1. Teresa Ellen Reeves Says:

    Teresa Ellen Reeves GLAAD has spoken for us without our consent & our presence on their Board.

    Only recently have they added Jennifer Finney Boylan as a token transwoman, the only one of 22 Board members. Her book, She’s Not There”celebrates “a life in two genders”, with male privilege that gave a career, marriage and family for the first 42 years of life. Then she transitions, has sex reassignment surgery, and gets to keep the marriage, family and career. Of course, she celebrates the word transgender, doesn’t want to talk about her SRS. Because admitting that she is post transsexual would mean that she would be admitting to having terminated her sexual relationship with her wife ten years ago, because her wife “is not a lesbian”.

    GLAAD dictates erasing the word “transsexual” & the assimilation of transsexuals under the transgender variant
    umbrella. They confound & equivocate change of gender, transgender as the same as change of sex, transsexual, seek to equivocate gender “expression” as “gender identity” & seek to deconstruct sexual dichotomy to create a new 3rd “gender” as a catch-all for gender variants to identify as “other” than male or female.

    I have a great deal of admiration for Jenny Boylan as a writer and for the fact that she kept a wonderful relationship with the woman she married and they are together because of their love for each other. I have no doubt about that.

    She is in many ways the champion for the later transitioner who puts forth the idea that you can live a life “in two genders” while those of us who transitioned early found living as our birth sex to be unbearable and were compelled to resolve our incongruence without hesitation.

    Jenny Boylan is the first and only one ever to speak for us at GLAAD. No one transsexual or transgender sat on their Board when the media guide was created and all those rules with the intention of eliminating transsexual and transvestite as words not to be used was put together by people who are not like us who believe they know who we are and what rights we deserve.

    After an eQualityGiving report on our lack of representation in national non-trans specific LGBT organizations reported that we had no representative on half of the three dozens organizations including GLAAD and GLSEN and only 3% representation overall, I was heartened when Jenny Boylan was added to the GLAAD and Kimberly Reed to GLSEN.

    So now Jenny Boylan speaks for me! In a post about 2 months ago Jenny Boylan asked for names of transgender people whom she could take with her when she goes to the public or to legislators in our behalf for GLAAD. There were perhaps a hundred names suggested, with the first suggestions being Ru Paul, Kate Bornstein and Chaz Bono. No one, including Jenny ever mentioned my name and there were very few suggestions for anyone who identified as being transsexual and not transgender and that seemed to be only Ashley Love and Lynn Conway. It seemed that she was not really interested in anyone who did not agree with her identification only as transgender and she was not seeking to change GLAAD’s media guide on the supremacy of that word and the erasure of the word transsexual.

    When I came on to Facebook in February 2010, I had the opportunity to build a news, information and advocacy network as an alliance of transsexual, transgender, intersex, lesbian, gay, bisexual, feminist and straight allies that Facebook encouraged and allowed me to build to 3,000+ friends. My reputation and activism as an advocate and writer allowed me to be connected to hundreds of LGBT organizations and I was included with Jenny Boylan and other trans writers and advocates on multiperson (up to 20 people) threads from without by people who thought of us as the go to persons fighting for our rights.

    I was honored to be included as a writer among writers with Jenny and I was honored when she accepted my friend request! But Jenny has a hair-trigger finger on her delete button when she gets annoyed with someone. And I annoyed her when I tagged her as one of 30 friends with a Springsteen inspired song I had written about the 33rd anniversary of my sex reassignment surgery, “The Night the Stars Fell on Long Beach”. She had deleted me on the eve of my anniversary!

    What had I done to offend her? She admitted to being a grouch who was annoyed about the song which she said was about a “labiaplasty”. She didn’t think SRS was one of the greatest moments in her life, and that her marriage and children’s births were more important to her, and she wouldn’t write a song about those events, either. And she wanted someone to “shoot her” if they caught her talking about her SRS after 33 years!

    But I said in my reply that I’d had more than a labiaplasty. A t 22 it was the greatest moment of my life, that I did not celebrate my life before transition, but that I’d had many great moments since. I reminded her that Stevie Wonder wrote “Isn’t She Lovely?” about the birth of his daughter that was not about an episiotomy or a Caesarian section.
    And her 33rd anniversary will occur at age 75 or so.

    I asked her to take a look at someone’s profile and what they are doing before being so eager to dump people without a thought. She apparently hadn’t read mine or she didn’t care about my work as an advocate with homeless people.

    So should put me back on her list and I felt as though I was on probation and I considered her dissing my song as a Red Badge of Courage, like being dissed by Simon Cowell, enough to push me to perform the song at Antioch’s University’s Women’s Breakfast that week of April 2010.

    But that was just about all she wrote until June 4, 2011 when we both were included on a stupid game thread of 90 persons, one that asked us to post a status of our shoe size “in inches” to promote Breast Cancer Awareness, obviously some kind of “phallic symbolism” that was juvenile, vulgar and not funny.

    When I responded to the post that most people don’t like being included in these mass-person games and even mentioned that Jenny had vowed to defriend people after she had been included in the previous year’s color of underwear game- I had even said, “Don’t shoot me, I’m only the messenger!”

    The last message I received from Jenny was “god in heaven” and I had been deleted! It was the second anniversary of my walking out after being humiliated by a local transgender group in Seattle.

    Not only had I been deleted, but I was also blocked from commenting on her profile, although I could see and read it, and could message her.

    With Jenny’s deletion of me, I lost all hope of any reconciliation with LGBT and transgender advocates. If Jenny Boylan disagrees with me and has no respect for me as a pioneer among those with a transsexual history, no respect for what I do and no respect for my opinion and deletes me over nothing– then she doesn’t speak for me or anyone else who shares my opinions and history as a post-transsexual woman.

  2. HenryHall Says:

    by Britney Austin @ I certainly think that transsexualism should be taken out of the DSM and treated strictly as a medical issue but that is not something that even needs to be discussed in a simple terminology guide.

    Taking transsexualism out of the DSM would be problematic since it isn’t in there to be taken out. Transsexualism is in the ICD-10 where it is already a medical issue; that is to say a psychiatric diagnosis. All psychiatric diagnoses (including Identity Disorders) are medical issues because psychiatry is merely one of many branches of medicine.

    • Suzan Says:

      Actually psychiatry is more quackery or religion than medicine.

      It is just as much of a misogynistic tool for the oppression of women and minority sexualities as religion. It enforces the patriarchy and conformity. GID is far from being the only fraud perpetuated by the Psychiatric Industrial Complex. There are things like such as Self Defeating Personality Disorder that label abused women as mentally ill and asking for it. Pre-Menstrual Disphoria Syndrome. not to mention the active child syndrome which gets labeled hyper-activity and drugged into complacency.

      I never had GID because the Psychiatric Industrial Complex hadn’t invented it yet. GID is a fiction.

  3. Andrea Rosenfield Says:

    GLAAD’s credibility is below-zero at this point; an anti-gay guy from the Heritage Foundation was on the GLAAD board until a couple of weeks ago, and is still on the board of lots of other LGBT groups, see here:

    As for the guide, just go back to the mid-1980s and scan in the “educational materials” from the TV/TS support groups (as they were called back then in a more honest time). Search/replace “transvestite” with “transgender,” and it comes out exactly right, plus Suzy’s long-standing request for “TG/TS” labeling pops out all on its own.

    TGSF (formerly ETVC) still has older, non-polluted (or at least less-polluted) materials in PDF form on its website. Risking getting held in moderation for a second link, but I don’t do Facebook, so I can’t pass this on directly. Check this out:

    Click to access Transgender%20flyer.pdf

    Worth taking a look at, I think. It’s a post-2002 revision, and a bit gender-polluted for it, but still a much better starting point than trying to fix GLAAD’s pile of intentional hide-the-transvestite obfuscation IMO.

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