Every day there are ethical decisions that impact the hundreds or thousands of people who watch, read, listen, and/or click on a media source. The foundation for making the right decision starts with ethics classes in college. Students in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism will use this blog to reflect on ethical questions in the media today.
Monday, September 30, 2013
There are no stupid questions
As an advocate for human rights, I think that everyone needs
to be considerate of what people identify as, whether that be gender, sexuality
or anything else. In the case of Bradley Manning, or as she is known now as
Chelsea Manning, I think the media needs to be respectful of her choices.
Although it may be true that she does not really identify as
a woman and is just doing this to be in a woman’s prison instead of a men’s
prison, it is imperative that we recognize the bigger picture here.
A blog post on the Human Rights Campaign website does a good
job of summing up the whole situation. It makes a point to say, “What should
not be lost is that there are transgender service members and veterans who
serve and have served this nation with honor, distinction and great sacrifice.”
Just because society as a whole can’t figure out how to
accept the LGBTQA community (even Pvt. Manning’s Wikipedia page is confused),
doesn’t mean that our journalists should be just as ignorant. Equality starts
by recognizing every one is different and was raised a little bit different.
The media needs to compensate for this by being fair.
It is our duty as news gatherers and presenters to be fair
to what people want/feel/are. We can’t be fair, one of those concrete ethical
rules, by not respecting the trans community.
Photo courtesy of people.com.
Something else I would like to point out is that
transgendered and transsexual are two different things. Transsexual is after
you get the surgery to become a male or female and transgendered is “all in
your head” and how you present yourself on the outside. I have noticed that people use these
interchangeably and that is not fair.
When the pregnant man came into the news a couple years ago
people freaked out. They couldn’t just accept that this person was born with
female reproductive parts and just doesn’t physically look like a female and
that they identify as a man.
Something else I would like to point out is that not
everyone fits into the gender binary. Some people don’t identify as a man or
woman. When this occurs people freak out because they just simply don’t know
what to do or how to act around these people. You should act the
same around all people, because all people have feelings.
If you don’t know which pronoun to use with someone, use a
gender-neutral pronoun like “they” or just ask them. In school they tell you to
ask questions when you don’t know something; the same applies to the real
Now back to Chelsea Manning. She specifically sent out a
letter asking to be called “she,” and I don’t think it gets much more simple than
that. It is easy to be confused when this person has been in the news so much
as “Bradley Manning”, but if we want to be fair to this person, no matter what
they have done criminally, we have to respect their wishes.
If we were doing our jobs right at journalists and human
beings then there would be no question in regard to what to call this or any person. Just ask what they prefer to be called. Even better
yet, if they TELL YOU what they want to be called, your job is 100 times easier!