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Are Transgender Style Guidelines Evolving or is Everyone Still Terribly Confused?

Think Progress intern Marina Fang, like a bunch of other news outlets as of late, has a fascinating piece on newsroom guidelines regarding transgender reporting. The question at hand: Should writers use the preferred “he” or “she” pronouns despite how a person was born?

Fang’s piece comes in the context of Private Chelsea Manning, the Army private who was previously Bradley Manning. Manning considers herself female even though she was born male. AP will use the pronoun preferred by the individual, as will the NYT. WaPo is still “reviewing its procedure.” NPR used male pronouns Thursday but by Friday “had evolved.” Not included in Fang’s story is MetroWeekly, one of Washington’s two gay publications, which refers to Manning as “she” through and through.

The Daily Caller is mixed — no set policy. “The transgender thing is tough,” Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson told FishbowlDC. “I feel sorry for them for sure — imagine being so unhappy you castrated yourself — and in general we call people what they want to be called. On the other hand, you can’t change your sex. It’s impossible. A person’s sex is determined at the DNA level.  It’s lying to pretend otherwise.  We don’t have a policy on it though.”

The Hill, run by conservative-leaning Hugo Gurdon, appears to agree with Carlson. They called Manning “he” and explained that “he” preferred to be known as Chelsea Manning. White House Spokesman Josh Earnest, meanwhile, referred to Manning as “Mr. Manning” in a recent White House briefing.

Still, Fang writes that the AP and NYT “danced around the issue, using gender-neutral pronouns in their stories on Manning when the story first broke last Thursday.”

This is Think Progress, after all, so Fang avoids citing the policies of conservative sites. But a quick look at Breitbart.com addresses the whole he/she issue like this.

Headline: “Bradley/Chelsea Manning May Sue the Army For His Sex Change”

In the lede alone, there are four uses of “he.” So much for Chelsea’s wishes.

“In the new world of turning established American institutions on their heads, Bradley Manning, the Army private who was convicted of violating the Espionage Act for releasing huge amounts of restricted documents to Wikileaks and sentenced to 35 years in prison, now wants to be called Chelsea because he asserts he’s a woman trapped in a man’s body — and he may sue the Army because the Army won’t pay for hormone therapy as he transitions from Bradley to Chelsea.

The Daily Caller, meanwhile, also thinks Manning (Chelsea or Bradley) is male, but not totally. “Just because Bradley Manning, who is a dude, has expressed a desire to look like a lady, that doesn’t mean they should play Aerosmith’s ‘Dude Looks Like a Lady.’ It’s entirely inappropriate!” joked Jim Treacher, who writes “The Daily Trawler.”

But in the new “Liberally Yours” column, Thom Hartmann repeatedly refers to Manning as a “she.” J. Arthur Bloom, The Daily Caller‘s Opinion Editor, offers the counter argument to Hartmann’s column. When he talks about Chelsea he writes “she” and when he writes about Bradley it’s “he.” So she (or he) is both a man and a woman depending on the graph.

The short of it? The media is not yet united on this issue and it isn’t clear when it will be.

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