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National Geographic on Trans Cover Story: ‘All of Us Carry Labels’

National Geographic Gender Issue

When National Geographic shared the cover photo for the magazine’s January issue, the reaction was sudden.

A transgender girl, Avery Jackson, appears on the cover of the magazine special “Gender Revolution” issue. Trans activists have lauded the cover and the reporting, while opponents have threatened to cancel subscriptions.

Related: Young Transgender Girl Appears on Cover of National Geographic

Editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg posted her editor’s letter in response after the cover brought about “expressions of pride and gratitude to utter fury.”

In the letter, Goldberg talks about how the issue of gender spans continents and lifetimes. “All of us carry labels applied by others,” Golberg wrote. “The complimentary ones—‘generous,’ ‘funny,’ ‘smart’—are worn with pride. The harsh ones can be lifelong burdens, indictments we try desperately to outrun.”

Goldberg hopes that the special edition will “spark thoughtful conversations” but particularly points out the risks that young girls and transgender kids face in hostile societies.

“Today, we're not only talking about gender roles for boys and girls—we're talking about our evolving understanding of people on the gender spectrum.”

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