Info for Journalists Covering Rainbow Communities

Queer, gender diverse and intersex issues are often discussed and covered in NZ media. Journalists have the opportunity to improve the understanding and awareness of gender and sexuality across Aotearoa. The information below is a resource for journalists to encourage and aid respectful and accurate reporting. 

At RainbowYOUTH, we believe that any journalism covering issues related to queer, gender diverse and intersex people should:

  • Protect the privacy of individuals involved

  • Use the correct pronouns for everyone involved

  • Be checked by the queer, gender diverse and/or intersex person for accuracy and use of appropriate phrasing and language

  • Approach sensitive situations with respect and discretion 

  • Never ‘out’ someone - never reveal details about an individual’s sexuality, gender identity or intersex status without their explicit consent

  • Consider carefully the views a story is platforming - do these views encourage or promote harm to queer, gender diverse and/or intersex people? If so, how is it in the public interest for you to share them?

  • Wherever you can, search for a way to cover the strengths and resilience of queer, gender diverse and intersex people - this helps rangatahi see themselves better reflected in the media, and shares examples of role models

  • Consider if mentioning a person’s sexuality, gender identity or intersex diagnosis is relevant to the story you are writing. If not, you should not include it. 

Other things to consider: 

  • If you cannot find someone from the queer, gender diverse or intersex community to speak to for a story around issues that impact them, you should consider not covering the story or waiting until you do. Consider revisiting your story angle which may be the reason they are refusing to participate. 

  • If you invite a queer, gender diverse or intersex person to debate, or have a dialogue with someone who has harmful or damaging views and they say no, it is probably due to safety concerns or regard for their own wellbeing rather than them not having a legitimate or coherent argument to express. Consider how framing queer, gender diverse or intersex issues as a healthy debate puts power into the hands of those not at risk. 

  • Sometimes, you will hear about research that purports to back up harmful myths about queer, gender diverse and intersex people. The use of science to backup homophobic, biphobic, transphobic and intersexphobic beliefs is not a new thing. Make sure you conduct due diligence by: 

    • Looking into the background of the researcher(s) and their institution

    • Searching for and reading any conflicting studies

    • Consulting with queer, gender diverse and intersex communities and fully representing their views of the research


Diverse and gender diverse inclusive stock images

There is a great stock image website called The Gender Spectrum which “features images of trans and non-binary models that go beyond the clichés. This collection aims to help media better represent members of these communities as people not necessarily defined by their gender identities—people with careers, relationships, talents, passions, and home lives”.

Covering hate groups or anti-trans issues

Often the discrimination and violence faced by the rainbow community is approached objectively by the media, who work to ensure their reporting is balanced and fair to all parties. Coverage by the media lends a (however misguided) sense of legitimacy to views that can cause real risk to the rainbow community - consider your due diligence around reporting on these issues and how you can frame the story in a way that causes the least harm gender diverse and trans people.

Language

At RainbowYOUTH, we use the words ‘queer’, ‘gender diverse’ and ‘intersex’ as umbrella terms for different parts of our community. You can read more about why we use these words here. Other ways you might refer to the whole community are by using the terms ‘rainbow’ or ‘LGBTIQ+’.


ori)These terms are western terms that don’t adequately represent non-western and indigenous concepts of diverse sexualities, gender identities and intersex people. Some terms that are used by these communities include: Takatāpui (Māori), Mahu (Hawaii), Vakasalewalewa (Fiji), Palopa (Papua New Guinea), Fa’afafine or Fa’afatama (Samoa, American Samoa), Aka’vaine (Cook Islands), Leiti (Tonga), Fakafifine (Niue).


Resources