“Transgendered men go topless in Rehoboth” is the headline of a recent article by The News Journal in Delaware. “Action called upsetting, not illegal” was the subhead.

Full stop right there—not only does the headline use “transgendered” instead of “transgender” (I realize some people still use “transgendered” but I believe that “transgender” is the preferred word) but more importantly, as the article confirms, the use of the phrase “transgendered men” is completely inaccurate in this case.

Here’s an excerpt:

Rehoboth Beach and the local Internet have been buzzing for days after a few transgendered men caused a stir on the beach over the holiday weekend by removing their tops and revealing their enhanced breasts.

Police there were called to the beach after lifeguards requested that the sunbathers replace their tops.

“Passers-by came up to the lifeguard and said they were alarmed and unhappy with the females showing their breasts,” Police Chief Keith Banks said. “The lifeguard responded and saw that they were males.”

Banks said police were called because the men originally refused to put their tops back on, but had consented before police arrived. Officers made sure the situation was under control, and no citations were issued.

These individuals clearly were transgender women, not transgender men. Then there’s the comment by the police chief that the individuals “were males.” Setting aside his ignorance on the subject, shouldn’t the article have pointed out that he was incorrect? Then again, the editors from the beginning didn’t understand the difference.

The article goes on to discuss the peculiar situation of whether going topless was illegal for these individuals. The consensus seems to be that it was not illegal because the transgender women, despite having breast implants, still had male genitalia.

Steve Elkins, executive director of the LGBT nonprofit CAMP Rehoboth, added these thoughts to the mix:

Elkins said he also thinks that it is horrific that some people who voiced outrage through radio talk shows and the Internet only have a problem because they were transgendered.

“Whoever called and [initially] complained about a woman having her top off,” he said. “The people now trying to make something about the fact that they were also men, they are trying to have it both ways. You can’t have it both ways.”

Setting aside the apparent misunderstanding by Elkins “that they were also men,” his point about a double standard is well taken, not only socially but also journalistically. An article about a group of topless women usually doesn’t make it into the news, unless they happen to be transgender.

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