Jamaica Plain resident Evan Greer is seeking signatures for a petition asking for major news outlet editors to mandate a policy of correctly labeling transgender people according to their preferred pronoun after she was misidentified in an interview.
Greer is the campaign director of Fight for the Future (FFTF), which is a viral digital rights nonprofit known for organizing online protests against government surveillance and for net neutrality. She started the petition after speaking with a major news organization on behalf of FFTF about the Apple versus FBI case, and noticing shortly after its publication that she was misidentified.
“The editors were quick to correct the error when I brought it to their attention, but in many ways the damage had already been done,” Greer said in an email to the Gazette. “Being misgendered is painful. It contributes to the oppression that the trans community faces in nearly every aspect of our society.”
This was not the first time that Greer experienced this type of mistake, specifically in regards to news organizations. She says that over the last few years, she’s been quoted with inaccurate pronouns in major publications such as the Washington Post and Fox News, and even LGBTQ outlets, like the Advocate, and progressive publications, like the Huffington Post.
Greer says that she is not alone, and that the misidentification in the media is something that trans and gender nonconforming people deal with all the time.
As a result of this most recent error, Greer posted a petition on ActionNetwork “calling for news editors to implement a policy requiring journalists to confirm their source’s gender pronouns” which would be sent to “major news editors,” after 800 signatures, according to the petition online. At the time of this article, the petition had garnered 785 out of 800 signatures. The petition can be found at bit.ly/1oJphyv.
The petition notes that this issue doesn’t only apply to the trans community, but also to people with non-English names, or names that are gender neutral.
“I just want newspapers to accurately represent the people they quote,” Greer said. “Whether it’s a trans person, or simply a person with a name that the reporter doesn’t recognize, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and referred to by the correct pronouns.”
Greer says she is currently in contact with an editor at a major Boston publication that may be interested in instituting a policy where journalists confirm their sources’ pronouns. She says she has not reached out to other editors yet, but plans to present the petition to them to demonstrate widespread community support.
The ultimate goal of the petition, according to Greer, is for news outlets to implement a policy of checking pronouns with every source that they use, and to use that momentum to get more people to pressure the largest news outlets such as the New York Times.
Greer also organizes a monthly all-ages, all-gender queer dance party called Break the Chains, which has become a popular underground LGBTQ event in Boston. The next Break the Chains event, Queer Prom, will be on April 16. For more information about the event, visit the Facebook page at bit.ly/1VEHsCF.