National Geographic makes history with cover of 9-year-old transgender girl December 18, 2016

by Amanda Hoover

A 9-year-old girl is making history as National Geographic’s first transgender cover model.

The move comes years after major news outlets have begun reporting on transgender issues, some in ways that have evoked praise for sensitivity and finesse, and others in ways that have been labeled as offensive. Transgender-rights advocates and others under the LGBT umbrella have hailed the announcement about the National Geographic cover as progress after decades of marginalization and discrimination.

Reporting on transgender people has lagged behind coverage of other LGBT issues for years, creating what some say is a stereotypical, shallow image of a diverse community that is growing and gaining influence rapidly. From confusion over proper pronouns to a failure to pursue new narratives, some advocates have complained that poor reporting has served to further pathologize the community, telling sensational stories that leave readers with marginal impressions of the vast group.

National Geographic unveiled its January issue featuring the young girl from Kansas City late last week. Wearing hot pink cheetah-print pants and a matching T-shirt, Avery Jackson looks poised, strong, and confident with pink-dyed stripes streaking through her shoulder-length hair.