Nat Geo to Feature Its First Transgender Cover Girl

By Joanna McClanahan of Ramblin’ Mama

National Geographic is set to make history with its January 2017 issue, which will feature a transgender person on its cover — a first for the magazine.

The subscriber’s edition of the magazine’s “Gender Revolution” issue will feature a picture of 9-year-old Avery Jackson, who has been a transgender activist since the age of 7. Also featured on the cover is a quote from Jackson’s Nat Geo interview, in which she says, “The best thing about being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy.”

According to a press release, the Gender Revolution issue will examine the “cultural, social, biological and personal” aspects of gender identity. National Geographic spoke with more than 100 children and teens around the world, examining traditional gender roles and rituals of manhood or womanhood for its January issue.

“National Geographic is almost 130 years old, and we have been covering cultures, societies and social issues for all of those years. It struck us, listening to the national conversation, that gender was at the center of so many of these issues in the news,” said National Geographic’s Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg.

“Youths are articulate and smart and key observers, and they don’t have a social veil. They’ll tell you what they think, and that is a true reflection of how societies really are. It’s harder to get more candid responses out of adults. We wanted to understand how gender plays out in society, and what are the limits, or lack of limits, they think they have because of their gender,” said Goldberg.

The topic of gender will be further discussed in an accompanying two-hour documentary, also titled “Gender Revolution.” The documentary, hosted by Katie Couric, is scheduled to premier on February 6, 2017.

“It’s hard to avoid hearing about some aspect of gender these days. Every time you check your phone, turn on the TV or scan Twitter, there’s another story that’s challenging our preconceived notions of what gender is, how it’s determined, and the impact these new definitions are having on society,” said Couric. “I set out on a journey to try to educate myself about a topic that young people are living with so effortlessly — and get to know the real people behind the headlines. Because the first step to inclusiveness and tolerance is understanding.”

With the recent election have come increased feelings of anxiety and marginalization and, tragically, a spike in hotline calls and suicides in the LGBTQ community.

I’m glad to see the conversation surrounding gender expand and hope it will lead to greater understanding. In my personal opinion, it’s far overdue.


About the Author

Joanna McClanahan is Editor at Mock Mom. She’s also a Contributor at Sammiches & Psych Meds and has been published on Scary Mommy. You can find more from her on, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.