The Associated Press and the New York Times will henceforth use female pronouns to refer to Pvt. Chelsea Manning, five days after she announced she intends to live as a woman and wants to be referred to as such.
In a blog post announcing the decision on Monday, the AP said the new policy is in conformity with its style guidelines:
The use of the first name Chelsea and feminine pronouns in Manning’s case is in conformity with the transgender guidance in the AP Stylebook. The guidance calls for using the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.
The New York Times confirmed on Monday that it too will refer to Manning as female, beginning Tuesday. Its Manual of Style and Usage notes that for a transgender individual, “[u]nless a former name is newsworthy or pertinent, use the name and pronouns (he, his, she, her, hers) preferred by the transgender person.”
Despite these policies stating that they should use the pronoun preferred by the individual, the AP, the Times, and other publications danced around the issue, using gender-neutral pronouns in their stories on Manning when the story first broke last Thursday.
Both the AP and the Times explained that it was necessary to provide further context and reporting on her announcement. On Thursday, the AP explained that “AP stories will use gender-neutral references to Manning and provide the pertinent background on the transgender issue. However, when reporting is completed, the AP Stylebook entry on “transgender” will be AP’s guide.”
Similarly, the Times said it wanted to use the masculine pronoun and gradually evolve in order to “provide clarity for readers,” though its public editor, Margaret Sullivan, wrote that “given Ms. Manning’s preference, it may be best to quickly change to the feminine and to explain that — rather than the other way around.”
NPR used male pronouns on Thursday, but by Friday evening, its “thinking had evolved”, and the newsroom received an e-mail from its managing editor for standards and practice announcing that the network would henceforth use female pronouns.
Other news outlets using female pronouns include Slate, MSNBC, The Huffington Post, and the London Daily Mail.
Some media outlets, like the Washington Post, are still reviewing their procedures.
Marina Fang is an intern for ThinkProgress.