Today, Chelsea Manning came out as transgender, and the Pvt. once known worldwide as whistleblower Bradley Manning revealed that she will be living as a woman from here on out.
Predictably, the Chelsea Manning revelation was met with no small degree of lack of understanding. But additionally, several prominent media sources misgendered Manning and by matter of course brought the somewhat confusing issue of reporting upon and discussing gender identity to the fore.
Writing for Salon, Amanda Marcotte deftly explains how the misgendering of Chelsea Manning can be avoided but first highlights some prominent media sources already mucking up the issue.
Marcotte unpacks the challenge in correctly gender identifying Manning while maintaining a clear and consistent narrative with which readers can follow along. She says:
“How do you refer to Manning’s gender in a way that balances respect for the right of individuals to determine their own gender identity with the need for clarity in your reporting? After all, Bradley Manning is a famous, controversial figure who has raised a lot of uneasy questions about national security and human rights. Chelsea Manning, however, is not a famous name at all.”
Marcotte notes that when it comes to gender identity, the media can play an important role in switching the coverage terms used, and thus, the conversation about gender identity overall. She notes that the “sooner journalists stop writing “Bradley” and start writing “Chelsea,” the quicker everyone following this story will adapt — and even change their Google search terms when looking for coverage.”
Salon admits to inadvertently misgendering Chelsea Manning in earlier reporting on his gender identity statement before adding that, as the statement was received and reported, all should honor Manning’s request in the interests of good reporting:
“… after Thursday’s announcement, there is no excuse… Manning has made her identity clear. She has made her request clear. To ignore these facts while reporting them is not just bad journalism — it’s utterly bigoted.”
Just in the past half hour, USAToday referred to Manning as “he” in reporting, and in the clip below, Fox News hosts mock the recently convicted leaker for her gender identity statement.