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Religious Tolerance logo

Homosexuality, Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual topics:

2016-DEC & 2017-JAN:
National Geographic's issue on gender,
transgender individuals, & transsexuals.

Part 1 of seven parts

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love hate image2017-JAN: The National Geographic Magazine breaks new ground:

Back in mid-2015, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriages across the U.S. Almost immediately, many web sites and news sources that had been opposing marriage equality switched much of their activity by starting to promote opposition to equal rights for transgender persons and transsexuals. A year later, support for marriage equality had exceeded 60% among American adults, 1 and equality for transgender persons had became a new focus in the battle for civil rights.

Such conflicts are not a new phenomenon. Periodically, during the history of the United States, there have been battles over whether to treat people equally. In the early years only land-owning males were allowed to vote. It took a civil war to eliminate slavery and, at least in principle to treat humans of different races equally. Late in the 19th century, profoundly deaf couples were not permitted to marry in some states. It wasn't until the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1920 that women received the right to vote. Before mid-2003, sexual activity between persons of the same gender was a criminal act in some states. It wasn't until mid-2015 that loving, committed same-sex couples were allowed to marry anywhere in the U.S. (except for American Samoa). Currently, battles continue over security of employment and accommodation among Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender individuals (the LGBT community). If past history is any indication, the present battles will conclude with equality for all. But they still have to be fought individually.

Contrary to many conservative religious news and information sources, transgender persons have not invented additional genders beyond male and female. They are typically either:

  • Identified as male at birth, but identify as female, later in life.
  • Identified as female at birth, but identify as male, later in life.
  • Identify themselves as having no gender, later in life.
  • Identify themselves as switching between female and male, during their life.

The topic of transgender persons had been receiving some attention in the print media:

  • During 2014, actress Laverne Cox became the first transgender woman on the cover of Time magazine.

  • During 2015, Caitlyn Jenner, a U.S. television personality and former gold medal-winning Olympic decathlete, was the first transgender woman on the cover of Vanity Fair.

  • During late 2016-DEC, National Geographic magazine distributed their 2017-JAN issue to their print subscribers. It featured Avery Jackson, a nine-year old transgender child, on its cover. On the cover is a quotation by Avery saying:

    "The best thing about being a girl is, now I don't have to pretend to be a boy."

    Her portrait was taken by photographer Robin Hammond:

National Geographic covers, 2017-JAN 2

Print subscribers' cover (left) and newsstand cover (right)

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In the newsstand copy (right):

Newsstand cover

  • The person seated in the center front with the multi-colored shirt is bi-gender (a.k.a. gender-fluid; She/he identifies as either female or male and alternates between the two genders from time to time.
  • The six individuals in the back row. from left to right are:
    • Intersex nonbinary: They are a combination of:
      • Intersex: Their internal sex organs or external sex organs, or sex chromosomes, or sex hormones do not match the conventional female or male pattern, and
      • Nonbinary: They don't identify as either female or male.
    • Transgender female: Identified as male at birth, and transitioned to female later in life; commonly referred to as a MTF transgender person.
    • A second transgender female.
    • Transgender male: : Identified as female at birth, and transitioned to male later in life. ; commonly referred to as a FTM transgender person.
    • Androgynous: Of indeterminate gender; Identifies as a blend of female and male.
    • Cisgender male: Identified as male at birth and remained male for his entire life, as are more than 99% of all birth-identified males.

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More about the National Geographic's 2017-JAN issue:

The entire issue is devoted to the world-wide "shifting landscape of gender." It was released on newsstands on 2016-DEC-27.

On 2017-FEB-06, the National Geographic TV Channel will feature a two-hour documentary called "Gender Revolution." It is hosted by Katie Couric.

Susan Goldberg, National Geographic Editor in Chief, wrote that many:

"... people are talking about Avery Jackson, a nine-year-old girl from Kansas City who is the first transgender person to appear on the cover of National Geographic. 3

Actually, Ms. Goldberg may be wrong. Avery is the first person who publicly identifies as being transgender to be featured on their cover. However, since there is about 1 transgender person or transsexual per 170 individuals, there is a distinct possibility that more than one of the individuals shown on the approximately 1,500 past covers during the National Geographic magazine's 128 year life was actually transgender, without the knowledge of magazine personnel.

Avery Jackson told USA Today that growing up:

"I really just wanted to be myself. I'm just a girl. By putting myself more out there, people will be able to know that I am transgender and proud and [they will] learn more about transgender issues." 4

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Susan Miller, writing for USA Today, said:

"From the Supreme Court to statehouses, fashion pages to Facebook, the question of 'who we are' is complicated and fluid, and never more relevant.

That is why National Geographic decided to devote its January issue to the 'gender revolution,' said Susan Goldberg, the magazine's editor in chief. 'It seems that the discussion about gender is really at the center of our national conversation. It is playing out in our education system, legal system, the military. Everywhere you look there is this conversation. ... We thought Avery was so strong, so proud ... and confident about her decisions that she was a good person to symbolize the new discussions about gender. She seems to sum up the complexity of the issue'."

"Avery's mother, Debi Jackson, 42, said her child went from being a 'happy, outgoing 2-year-old boy to becoming sullen and depressed' between the ages of 3 and 4. Avery became angry and withdrawn and hated going to preschool,' Jackson said. 'She started talking about death a lot'."

" 'When Avery dressed up in a princess dress, the darkness lifted,' said Jackson, who also has a son Anson, 11, with husband Tom, 41. The couple [originally] thought their child was a gay boy and "it would be OK." 4

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Discussion Avery and the National Geographic
magazine on gender continues in the next essay:

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. 2016-MAY: Gallup found that support for gay marriage exceeded 6 out of 10 American adults. Their poll found that 61% believed that "marriages between same-sex couples should ... be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages." 37% were opposed.
  2. Image of the cover of the 2017-JAN issue of National Geographic magazine. Copied from magazine web site at: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ You can order a copy from that URL.
  3. Susan Goldberg, "Why We Put a Transgender Girl on the Cover of National Geographic," National Geographic, 2016, at: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/
  4. Susan Miller, "Trans girl, 9, makes history on National Geographic cover," USA Today, 2016-DEC-21, at: http://www.usatoday.com/

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How you may have arrived here:

Home > "Hot" religious topics > Homosexuality & Bisexuality > Media accounts > here

 Home > Transgender topics > here

 Home > "Hot" topics > Transgender topics > here

 Home > Christianity > Christian history, belief... > Beliefs > Transgender topics > here

Home > Christianity > History, practices... > Christian practices > Transgender topics > here

Home > Religious Information > Basic data > Transgender topics > here

Home > Human rights > Transgender topics > here

Home > Morality and ethics > Transgender topics > here

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-DEC-23
Latest update : 2016-DEC-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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