Friday, August 23, 2013

Manning: He or She? News-sources Weigh In on the Side of Bigotry.

In a move that shows just how far our society has to go in terms of Trans Acceptance, several major news organizations are refusing to switch pronouns and name usage for Chelsea Manning.

Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, is the Army Private who was recently sentenced to 35 years in a military prison for leaking classified documents. 

Her request for the change was delivered by her lawyer on the Today Show yesterday and despite her not being the first celebrity or famous person to announce such a change, news outlets are struggling with, or outright refusing, the switch.

The Huffington Post, the London Daily Mail, MSNBC and Slate have all started using the feminine pronoun.

NBC's Today, USA TODAY, The Boston Globe, Politico, CNN, Fox, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, the Daily Beast, the Los Angeles Times, NPR and The New York Times are still using the masculine pronoun.

When pressed on why her wishes aren’t being met, a variety of excuses were given… that it would cause confusion for the readers, that she might switch back, that it might be a ploy for attention… but perhaps most disappointing of all was this excuse given by NPR spokesperson Anna Bross. “Until Bradley Manning’s desire to have his gender changed actually physically happens, we will be using male-related pronouns to identify him.”

In other words, Dear Trans Community. You don’t get to use your pronoun of choice until you have undergone gender reassignment surgery. Never mind that in order to have the surgery, you are usually required to live as your desired gender for a significant period of time… and more importantly, never mind that not all trans people can, or want, the surgery.

Let’s say that last bit again shall we as it seems to be the pressing point: Not all trans people want to undergo surgery. Not all trans people are able to (for a variety of reasons) undergo gender reassignment surgery.

But the AP style-book, used by journalists all over the world, won’t honor your chosen gender pronoun until there has been a physical change.

This is beyond offensive to the Trans community and it shows us that we have a long way to go before we can consider even our more progressive new sources as truly supportive.

Of course, GCV, while not a news organization, will honor this change and we encourage our readers to do the same.

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