Transgender Couple Responds To A Newspaper's Offensive Headline, Turns It Into A Teaching Moment

"I have always been a woman and Jake has always been a man."

After British couple Hannah Winterbourne and Jake Graf were recently married, a story about them ran in The Sun, a tabloid newspaper in England. While the article itself, written by reporter Emma Pietras, was described by the couple as "positive" and "lovely," the accompanying front-page headline "Tran and wife" (referencing Winterbourne and Graf's gender identities) was not. 


Not only was the publication's attempt at a play on the words "man" and "tran" offensive to the transgender community and its allies, but their top headline — "Jake who used to be a woman weds Hannah who was a man" — was problematic as well. 

According to LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD, phrases such as "used to be a woman" and "who was a man" are "are reductive and overly-simplify a very complex subject."  The organization notes that "a person's sex is determined by a number of factors — not simply genetics — and a person's biology does not 'trump' a person's gender identity." 

Both Winterbourne and Graf were quick to respond to The Sun on Twitter. "A shame that our beautiful day and a positive article by @Emskibeat has been marred by fairly offensive headlines. I have always been a woman and Jake has always been a man," Winterbourne wrote, garnering more than 12,000 likes. 

Graf echoed her sentiment with, "Following such a lovely, positive article from @Emskibeat in today's @TheSun it's a real shame that it's been cheapened by such a sensationalised and misleading headline. @hannahw253 was never a man, as I was never a woman. #trans #fact," garnering 4,000 likes. 

Beyond the headlines, the cover image perpetrated an arguably worse offense by featuring alleged pictures of Winterbourne and Graf before they transitioned. This deliberate choice obviously undermines the way the couple has chosen to express themselves and how they would like to be seen by the modern world. 

Any publication with a large platform has a responsibility to inform its audience with the most up-to-date language in reference to a person's identity.  As we progress, more and more publications are thankfully taking the time and space needed to report responsibly on a more inclusive, nuanced narrative of romance, but there is clearly much work to be done. 

Many media organizations are still learning and adapting to new terms, so while The Sun clearly made a mistake, those on social media were sure to support of Winterbourne and Graf with positive responses.  

Many were inspired by not only the couple's show of love, but their show of strength, and offered them proper congratulations. 

One Twitter user, Lisa Lund, cropped out the offensive headlines and recaptioned the wedding photo of Winterbourne and Graf, "No words needed just love end of...❤️" 

One more time for the people in the back (and at The Sun): "Love is love is love is love." Winterbourne and Graf have proven that, though they — and every other couple, regardless of gender identity — should never have to. 


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