Writing in the Margins: Mainstream News Media Representations of Transgenderism

Thomas J Billard


This study examines representations of transgender individuals and identity in mainstream U.S. newspapers in an effort to understand the extent to which the transgender community is legitimized or delegitimized by news media. To do so, 200 articles from 13 of the 25 most circulated daily newspapers in the United States were coded for the presence or absence of “legitimacy indicators.” The study finds that mainstream newspaper coverage of the transgender community is extremely limited. Moreover, the coverage that does exist contains a significant amount of delegitimizing language, which it is argued will detrimentally impact both the projected legitimacy of transgender claims in the political arena and public perceptions of the transgender community.


transgender, journalism, newspapers, legitimacy, content analysis

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