[10/23/18] – (Trans)Gender and Mass Communication

Issues of gender are becoming featured more and more in our news and other media, which is why this week’s blog specifically takes a look at transgender people in the media. In 2018 alone, some examples include the first the first openly transgender person to appear on the cover of any Cosmopolitan, the first openly transgender person on a cover of Vogue, the first transgender woman to come out in professional hockey, and the first openly transgender candidate for governor nominated by a major political party in the United States. Recently the conversation around transgender participation in sport has picked up after Dr. Rachel McKinnon, a scholar and cyclist, became the first transgender track world champion, taking gold at the UCI Master Track Cycling Worlds in Los Angeles.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for (Trans)Gender and Mass Communication



A commentary from Dr. Rachel McKinnon: “I offer some thoughts on how to think about whether including trans women in competitive sport is ‘fair.’ The IOC Principles of Olympism establish participation in sport as a human right; they also prohibit discrimination in various forms. I suggest that excluding trans women constitutes prima facie discrimination and does NOT meet the standard required to justify such discrimination. I also suggest some ways to think about ‘fairness’ in sport, and that including trans women in sport is consistent with fair competition.”

“Gender should be the least remarkable thing about someone, but transgender people are still too often misunderstood. To help those who are scared to ask questions or nervous about saying the wrong thing, Jackson Bird shares a few ways to think about trans issues. And in this funny, frank talk, he clears up a few misconceptions about pronouns, transitioning, bathrooms and more.”




Writing: Explain how the inclusion of transgender athletes in sports challenge our understanding of sex and gender as binary, using theories such as social constructionism.

Debate: Would you consider transgender inclusion in sports a human rights issue, as Dr. McKinnon does? Why or why not?

Poll: Do you believe sex is fixed (unchangeable) or flexible (changeable)?

Short Answer: What does it mean to be transgender? Please give an example.

Current Events Quiz

What is the name of the first transgender woman to win a world cycling title?

  • Kate McKinnon
  • Rachele Mack
  • Rachel Maddow
  • Rachel McKinnon

Rachel McKinnon had her status as winner challenged by Jennifer Wagner, the ___.

  • Olympic Sex Identifier
  • newscaster reporting her win
  • person in last place
  • Bronze medalist

No athlete can expect to compete against___.

  • one who is identically matched in all capabilities
  • an animal of the same species
  • a person of the same race
  • their twin sibling

Dr. McKinnon is more concerned with ___ than trans people taking over sports.

  • animal rights
  • fairness and human rights
  • the weight of her gold medal
  • sexual harassment of trans athletes during sex testing

To compete, McKinnon’s ___ is suppressed.

  • sarcasm
  • testosterone level
  • progesterone level
  • voice

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