The few corporate media outlets out there that are even slightly not-hostile to trans people routinely make egregious editorial choices when they write about trans people. Publishing our prior names (especially if we were not a public figure before we transitioned), objectifying our bodies, pigeon-holing us, focusing on surgery (especially when the trans person’s personal life is irrelevant to the article–e.g. Chelsea Manning), not respecting our boundaries or requests, not consulting us on how we wish to be referred to pre-transition, or just in general not consulting us at all as participants in your piece–this is just a short example of the ways these marginally not-hostile outlets dehumanize their trans subjects, even if their slant is intended to be sympathetic.
So here’s another editorial guideline. GLAAD has one but doesn’t explain why its provisions are important. The Radical Copyeditor spells it out for you.
The purpose of this guide is to help people of all gender identities and experiences practice more care toward those on the margins. Trans people must be understood as the authorities on ourselves and the language used to describe us. Not only does this mean that cisgender (non-trans) people need to practice humility and care toward trans people, but it also means that trans people—particularly those with educational, financial, and/or racial privilege—need to practice humility and care toward other trans people—particularly those who are folks of color, low-income, less educated, and/or elders.
If you are trans, I highly recommend inoculating yourself against the temptation to police other trans people’s language by reading “words don’t kill people, people kill words” and the glossary introduction “there is no perfect word,” both by Julia Serano, as well as “I Was Recently Informed I’m Not a Transsexual,” by Riki Wilchins.
A final note: Like all style guides, what follows is about language usage, not definitions; for a comprehensive glossary of transgender-related terminology, check out this one from Julia Serano.
The short of it is: Actually ask us what language we use to refer to ourselves. Not so difficult.
Read more here.