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HRC Report Highlights Need for Trans Representation in News and Media

A new report from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation gives insight into how media coverage and visibility impact society’s perception of the transgender community.

The report, Trans Lives & Positive Visibility: How News and Media Can Positively Cover Trans and Non-Binary Stories, found that 33 percent of adults are very or somewhat unfamiliar with topics and issues regarding the transgender community. This appears to be due to a lack of media coverage; 52 percent of adults said their news and media did not mention trans or non-binary people in the last week.

These numbers vary along the political spectrum. A majority of adults (58 percent) who do not usually get any of their news from right-leaning sources strongly agree that their media suggests that “transgender people seek equal treatment under the law.” This percentage falls by about half to 31 percent of adults among respondents who only consume right-leaning news media. 52 percent of those who do not consume any right-leaning sources do not believe transgender people currently have the same rights and opportunities as non-trans people, compared to 20 percent of those who only consume right-leaning sources.

According to the HRC Foundation, “[right-leaning news and media sources] especially contribute to the cultural marginalization, invisibility, and erasure of trans and non-binary people, deepening the stigma the community faces.”

When respondents did see depictions of transgender and non-binary people in their media, the representation wasn’t necessarily positive. Three in ten respondents said they did not see the types of positive stories or representations of trans and non-binary people in their usual news and media. 31 percent did not see stories that show how “transgender people are like me, my friends, and my family.”

“In recent years, visibility for transgender and non-binary people has increased in politics, in the media, and beyond,” Jay Brown, HRC Senior Vice President of Programs, Research, and Training, said in a release. “Increased visibility and corresponding misinformation, especially from right-leaning media outlets, have underlined the need for representation in all areas to be not only numerous, but authentic to the lives and stories of transgender and non-binary people. The data shows that the media must be more inclusive of members of the transgender and non-binary community to assist in the development of positive and open-minded opinions for audiences everywhere, especially the large number of people who know nothing about trans people and their lives.”

Read the full report here.