Monday, September 30, 2013

There are no stupid questions

Alexandra Newman

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
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 world.

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!

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