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IPSO has published its first piece of editorial guidance for journalists and editors who may be researching or writing a story featuring a transgender individual.

Head of Standards at IPSO, Charlotte Urwin, said, in a recent blog post on the IPSO website, that the guidance represents “an important step for IPSO in its work to support journalists to meet the Editors’ Code of Practice”.

Considering why IPSO has produced the guidance, Ms Urwin said that, although The Editors’ Code sets the framework for the highest professional standards for journalists, “there are some situations where it is helpful to produce guidance which explores in more detail how the Editors’ Code applies to particular themes or issues”.  One such area is the researching or writing of stories featuring transgender individuals, or discussing transgender issues.

In January 2016, Ms Urwin continued, the Editors’ Code was changed to make clear that the press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s gender identity and that details of an individual’s gender identity must be avoided unless genuinely relevant to the story.  Equally, coverage of transgender issues is a fast moving area as there is increasing public awareness of the issues faced by the transgender community and the language used to talk about gender identity and gender transition is also changing.

This guidance does not replace or supersede either the Editors’ Code or the Codebook, nor does it limit or restrict editorial decision-making, Ms Urwin notes.  Instead, the guidance “explores key questions for journalists and editors to think about as they write these stories, provides detailed discussion of key issues and highlights other organisations that may be able to help journalists or editors”.

IPSO engaged with transgender individuals and journalists whilst developing the guidance.  All About Trans (a non-profit project that encourages better understanding between trans people and the media) facilitated two events for IPSO.  Both occasions saw “lively and thoughtful discussion”, Ms Urwin said, “and gave me a good insight both into the challenges facing the transgender community and the impact of both supportive and challenging media coverage on the community”.  To read Ms Urwin’s blog post in full and for a link to the guidance, click here.