Sometimes we meet people working in the media who genuinely want to help trans and intersex people. For most journalists, however, the story comes first. For your safety, you should always assume that the media personnel you work with are more interested in the story than in your well being.
There are many stories that could be told about trans and intersex people but editors often prefer to rely on tried and tested formulas. You may want to talk about your small business or the work you are doing in your local community but find the story twisted to focus on surgery or relationship problems. You may find small talk about your favourite celebrity used to present you as an obsessive fan.
To make sure you stay in control of the story, think about what the media might want from you and be careful around those subjects, even if you’re speaking ‘off the record’. Think through clearly what you want to talk about and keep the conversation focused on that. You have no obligation to talk about another subject just because you agreed to be interviewed.
You may be told that if you don’t cooperate the story will run anyway. Occasionally this happens, but nine times out of ten it means there isn’t enough material for a story unless you do talk. Don’t give in to pressure.
Don’t be shy about asking to see the final version of any story you are involved in. Responsible media organisations will do their best to make this possible. This may mean that you have the opportunity to make last-minute corrections. Even if it doesn’t, it means you will be better prepared to deal with the consequences of the story going public.
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