Guest blogging: Helpful dictionaries and resources for anyone writing on LGBTQ issues and the recent federal discussion of “defining gender.”

Each week, we will strive to post content from a guest blogger with an expertise in an area of the field. This week, we are fortunate to have Pat Garvin a visual journalist at The Boston Globe and the publisher of the LGBTQ+ Experiment newsletter.

The issue of “defining gender” hit the news this week, with President Donald Trump announcing he is seeking a legal definition of the term, which would be based solely on “genitalia at birth.” As writing on this subject is likely to require some deeper understanding of sex, gender and other similar topics, I asked Garvin if he had any suggestions on where reporters can go to become more well versed on these issues.

Garvin was nice enough to provide a roster of dictionaries and resources he uses to more fully understand the terms used in covering LGBTQ topics and explain why he thinks each one has merit. It’s also worth noting that even experts in a field understand they need to look things up occasionally (or more), so in my book, he also serves as a good example for all reporters. Interested in being our next guest blogger? Contact us here.

When coming across a term I don’t know, I’m often tempted to Google it to learn its meaning and etymology.

Here are some of the glossaries I’ve returned to most often, and why:

  • GLAAD Media Reference Guide
    This is aimed at journalists and other people who work in media-related positions, but is illuminating for anyone who wants to understand terminology.
  • National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) Stylebook
    The NLGJA is “an organization of journalists, media professionals, educators and students working from within the news industry to foster fair and accurate coverage of LGBTQ issues.” Like GLAAD’s Reference Guide, the NLGJA’s style guide has an exhaustive glossary of terms, explaining the context in which these terms should — and should not — be used.
  • The Human Rights Campaign
    The HRC is the largest LGBTQ+ organization in the US, and has a straightforward glossary.
  • Trans Student Education Resources
    This list of definitions is especially helpful in its attention to detail on terms related to the transgender community.
  • The LGBTQIA+ Resource Center at UC Davis
    This is a staggering and even daunting collection of terms that deal not only with gender and orientation, but also race and disabilities.
  • National Center for Biotechnology Information’s glossary
    The National Center for Biotechnology Information is a division of the National Library of Medicine, and thus, the glossary has some medical terminology that’s not in some of the other resources.
  • The National LGBT Health Education Center
    The National LGBT Health Education Center “provides educational programs, resources, and consultation to health care organizations with the goal of optimizing quality, cost-effective health care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.” Its glossary offers a robust list of terms associated with the LGBTQ+ people’s health and medical treatments.
  • The Trevor Project
    The Trevor Project aims to prevent suicide among LGBTQ+ youth, and this guide not only defines terms, but links to resources about specific topics.
  • CBS News: The gender identity terms you need to know
    Some of the above resources might seem technical to some readers, but this CBS News article explains things in a straightforward way that isn’t academic.
  • The New York Times: The ABCs of LGBTQIA+
    Similar to the CBS News piece, this explains terms simply, and explains the historical concepts for some of the terms.

I intentionally use each of them so that I can soak up the nuances and different ways they explain terminologies. Each one takes a slightly different approach to wording, and I feel it’s helpful to soak that in as I’m trying to learn new terms. It’s helpful to see a couple different definitions for the same terms, because I’m able to catch more of the nuances of some terms if I’m able to read multiple explanations.

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