An article in today’s Daily Mail by Ian Drury (21st August 2014) reports on Warrant Officer Deborah Penny, a transgender woman who is serving on the front line in Iraq as a bomb disposal expert.

Focus: The Identity Trust are pleased this article has been written in a sensible and responsible manner, using Deborah’s correct name and appropriate pronouns.  It is what we have advocated on many occasions, most recently with the launching of Our Trans Manifesto endorsed by many statutory bodies, and other public and private organisations, and which is now being taken forward into Europe.  Part of our Manifesto, which you can access here, calls for realistic and positive portrayals of transgender individuals such as this.

What is positive?

With regards to the reporting of Deborah’s story,  it is commendable that her service in Iraq in the Royal Logistic Corps is discussed within the wider context of the roles women fill within the military as Deborah Penny is, and always has been, a woman.  And it is encouraging to report on an employer who is supportive of transgender personnel.  Particularly when the employer had made significant advances in their policies to transgender personnel from past years; an example that companies and employers can and do change.

We only have to look at the newspaper reports that circulated concerning Chelsea Manning to see media progress in the responsible treatment of transgender individuals with the medically recognised condition of Gender Dysphoria.  You can read our editorial on the media treatment of Chelsea’s story here.  This article is positive, and is devoid of the unnecessary and repugnant sensationalism inappropriate to what is the story of an individual who, after all, has transitioned as part of her treatment of a medical condition.  In the future, we hope such articles will not even be deemed newsworthy, but every step forward is a positive one.

What is not?

However, some myths still make their way into the article.  Deborah was not “born a man”, she was simply born with a male body.  She is, and always has been female.  Your gender identity, the core feeling of whether you are male or female, is with you from your birth, no matter the physical sex with which you are born.

Nor is the term “sex-change” an advisable term.   It is more correctly and appropriately termed as gender confirmation or affirmation treatment/surgery or gender reassignment surgery and it refers to the treatments that individuals take to permanently transition, such as hormone therapy, surgery etc and which bring the sex characteristics of the body more into line with the core gender identity had since birth.  Most transgender individuals view their ‘transition’ as an affirmation of the gender identity they have always had, rather than an actual transition from one gender identity to another.  The term “sex-change” is therefore incorrect and inappropriate.

You can link to the original article in the Mail Online by clicking here.

Picture reproduced courtesy of the Mail Online.

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