Reading the comments and writing some. Thoughts on ending transphobia

Ending Transphobia examples - Christianity Daily_
Ending Transphobia examples – Christianity Daily_ (View on
Transgender Bathroom Awareness Poster lgbtplusbristol 50079
This is really the best image to use – Transgender Bathroom Awareness Poster lgbtplusbristol 50079 (View on

Hello Christianity Daily!

Thanks for publishing my photo. However, you’re accompanying it with an inaccurate, and offensive term, which is considered dehumanizing ( a good primer on this is here… , there’s also a readily available journalistic style guide at – take a few minutes to read it next time, please).

Please either

1. Replace the terms used above with human terms, e.g. “people who are transgender,” “transgender people”

or if you elect not to do the above,

2. Remove the photo as it violates the license for use as listed on the main photo page because your article accompanies and promotes transphobic sentiments:…– sorry that’s not allowed with my photos.

By the way, Flickr community guidelines also require a link back to the photo, so please implement that as well.

You’re of course welcome to use these photos in the interest of telling a story that supports equality, and the latest science.

It’s clear in the 21st Century that gender segregated bathrooms do not confer a safety advantage over gender neutral ones. In fact, in Washington, DC, it’s the law – all single stall bathrooms must be gender neutral. This is because they’re safer, fair (to women and men), and promote the health of all. It’s been like this for several years now, and no one is uncomfortable, more people are safer and can participate in society, as they should.

Isn’t this century great? Please join us :).

Have a great day,

Ted Eytan, MD
Washington, DC USA

“Never read the comments” is what people say about articles online that cover LGBTQ and specifically transgender issues.

What they mean, often correctly, is that the biased and unloving statements they may see will trigger negative feelings and reminders that we live in a world that is still learning to love better.

We shouldn’t have to see those comments, though, because they shouldn’t be allowed in the first place.

It’s the accountability of the publisher to manage this, and plenty of publishers do this just fine, so it’s not an impossible task.  You just have to want to do it. Harvard Business Review is an example of a publication that has figured this out. Read their comment policy.

Publishers that allow untoward comments are contributing to implicit and explicit bias as much as the comment writers are.

Studies show that for most Americans, there are explicit (verablized, written) opinions about certain classes of people that are off limits. For other groups, like LGBTQ people…..

The comments that I encounter that relate to me are of a different kind, in the way a publisher might use a photo I’ve taken to adorn an article.

For as long as I’ve put photos (or mostly anything on the web), I’ve made them open source. I still own the copyright but they are Creative Commons licensed, even for commercial use.

Depending on the issues of the day, some photos get regularly placed in publications. This one has been used a lot:

SCOTUS APRIL 2015 LGBTQ 54663 (View on

Same with this one.

Celebrating a new America #lovewins 58242
Celebrating a new America #lovewins 58242 (View on

For obvious reasons (love always wins).

Photos of gender neutral restrooms have also been getting used lately, also for obvious reasons.

Through various internettable means, I review the use of each photo, and 99.9% of the time they’re used to support a conversation that supports the human spirit. As long as they don’t contribute to bias, they’re fine. Some uses are clearly over the line, and for those I request a takedown. I’ve done that less than 5 times over the past 3 years. The rest I tweet/post a thank you and give credit to the publisher.

Then there are the in between times, the time where a teachable moment is possible. For these times I engage and write the comment, and give people the option to use or not use the photo.

I’m posting a recent example that had a good outcome. Replacement of offensive terms with accurate ones, for use of a photo in Christianity Daily. Headline changed, photo taken down (although this was not a requirement of mine, but fine with me), and my comment left on their site.

In another instance (which I won’t link to here), I posted a comment, received a very kind reply (which surprised me, considering the tone of the article), photo taken down, comment removed. Good outcome there as well.

I have control over what I have control over, so this blog doesn’t allow any negative comments directed at people or classes of people. Same goes with the use of any photos I take. I am a publisher, too.


What you permit you promote.

It’s not what you do, it’s what you tolerate.

None of us came to health care hoping to make the world a less loving place, and fortunately the opposite is happening, with our help.

Isn’t this century the best 🙂 .

PS, this photo has been used a lot more than all of the above, and it’s the most accurate. So in the end, the crowd does know the science, and you-know-what wins ( <3 ).

Transgender Bathroom Awareness Poster lgbtplusbristol 50079
Transgender Bathroom Awareness Poster lgbtplusbristol 50079 (View on

this post adapted from a facebook post – putting it here so it says in the ether somewhere

Ted Eytan, MD