In its latest edition (dated June 29), People magazine piled up the praise for Chastity Bono’s decision to be "Chaz," declaring herself to be a male. This leads to the kind of journalism that ignores all the hard-to-obscure physiological facts and goes with the feelings of the celebrity it’s celebrating:
(Transgendered people believe they were born as the wrong sex, so except in quotes, PEOPLE will refer to Chaz as ‘he,’ even when referring to past events, to reflect what Bono considers his true gender.)
Journalists don’t have to oppose transsexuality to be accurate (and there wasn’t even a hint of opposition to the decisions of "Chaz" in the People article). But accuracy should require that females be described as female.
The "he" and "his" pronouns weren’t in the headline or beginning of the article, no doubt out of concern of confusing the reader. The headline was "Becoming Chaz: With her family’s support, Sonny and Cher’s daughter reveals she is transgender and living as a man."
The article began: "The images are iconic TV moments: Precious little Chastity Bono, with her blonde hair and chubby cheeks, gracing her parents 1970s variety show The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour..."
People insisted that some of Bono’s relatives still need to adjust to the times. Cher’s mother told a newspaper, "Whatever way she goes is fine with me....I love her and I’m behind her."
The story included instructional quotes from Masen Davis of San Francisco’s Transgender Law Center and Shannon Price Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, "who is transgender." It ended with supporters praising her "gigantic step" that would be "fantastic."
This kind of journalism is supposed to demonstrate sympathy and solidarity rather than accuracy or balance.