A guide on how to report on members of the trans and gender diverse community has been released in time for this year’s Midsumma Festival.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission developed the gender identity reporting guide to combat the misgendering and insensitive language often used around trans people.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton said despite advances in equality misgendering still occurs in the media.

“With trans issues likely to be in the media during Midsumma, getting the language right is respectful and easy to achieve,” she said.

“Continued misgendering, including using ‘he/she’ or ‘it’ to describe a trans person without checking their preferred pronoun not only reflects a lack of acceptance but can perpetuate ignorance and confusion.

“This guide will assist the media to deliver respectful and accurate information.”

Gender and sexuality commissioner Ro Allen agreed, saying the guide will make a big difference.

“All we need is respect. Use the correct pronoun, and if you don’t know, ask,” Allen said.

“If you get it wrong just apologise and move on, it’s not difficult and makes a big difference to people.”

Rory Blundell from Minus18 believes misgendering can have a huge impact on trans people, particularly younger and more vulnerable members of the community.

“It can affect someone’s basic confidence, from making a moment awkward and embarrassing to shaking someone’s sense of self,” he said.

“In the past misgendering has affected me for days or weeks, because it makes you second guess how you represent yourself. It’s never nice.

“The statistics on mental health risks for young LGBTI people are bad so for those more vulnerable it can have an even greater impact.

“This is also the case for non-binary identities that aren’t as well represented, it’s added stress.”

Blundell said the guide will be hugely important for members of the trans and gender diverse community.

“It’s hugely important, it means trans and gender diverse young people can feel confident when speaking to the media,” he said.

“It means when we read about ourselves in news outlets it’s done correctly because representation is important.

“It’s important to make sure people feel safe and by having this guide young people can finally see something respectful written about them that doesn’t cause harm.”

You can read the trans and gender diverse reporting guide here.

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