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A nice Surprise: CosmoGirl tackles “The Gender Spectrum”

September 14th, 2007     by Stacey May Fowles     Comments

I subscribe to a number of teen magazines, and yes, mostly so I can criticize them, but today I opened my mailbox to a nice surprise.


The October issue of CosmoGirl has the usual “how to be pretty,” “how to impress boys” and “how you might die of the random disease of the month” content, but buried in the back, on page 149 there’s a thoughtful, insightful and in some ways, revolutionary piece written by Jessica DuLong, called The Gender Spectrum. In the piece, DuLong takes a sensitive and informative approach to transexual, transgender and genderqueer teens, telling the stories of Andrea, Kody and James. In fact almost the entirety of the article is from their point of view and in their own words. Awesome.

It’s refreshing to see a mainstream teen magazine cover this kind of content, especially given some of the miseading articles as of late. The article even gives a nod to my much beloved Kate Bornstein, one of the teens citing Bornstein’s book, My Gender Workbook, as a pivitol truning point in hir life. Who thought Kate Bornstein would ever make it into the pages of CosmoGirl? Certainly not me. (Although I’m disappointed that Bornstein is not mentioned, just the book title.)

The piece has a great “Gender Vocab” sidebar that defines terminology for gender issue newbies, and has some admirable passages like this one:

…imagine if the body you saw in the mirror didn’t match your inner sense of who you are. You’d probably feel scared, confused, and pretty helpless. And then you’d want to tell people the truth… More and More teens are openly questioning not only their own gender, but also society’s rigid gender expectations - and challenging others to open their minds too.

DuLong also points readers in the direction of this great website:

I never thought I’d say this but, bravo CosmoGirl.

Tags: body politics, media savvy

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