How not to report on trans* people/How political correctness continues to be awesome

“I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” the Army private wrote in a statement read on TODAY Thursday. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”

This article starts off okay, then goes downhill in a cavalcade of what is, at my charitable best, oblivious awfulness.

“I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility),” he continued in the statement. “I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.”

The alternative to oblivious awfulness is that Scott Stump of Today is an asshat. Scott is just a journalist, he isn’t meant to know about pronouns. The New York Times’ copyeditor on the other hand is definitely just an asshat. Via Wonkette:


I don’t think the politics of trans* has to be at the top everyone’s priorities. It probably should be if you’re any sort of utilitarian, but I’m not going to go into that now. The point is that you just shouldn’t be a dick. This is a simple life rule that is somehow not succinctly included in any major religious work. But its certainly my philosophy.

If someone asks you to call them a woman you have no reason not to. It costs you nothing and it makes them happy (or at least less miserable in Chelsea Manning’s case). That’s a pareto improvement, we take all the pareto improvements we can get thankyouverymuch.

What to do? Luckily political correctness is to the rescue.

Margaret Sullivan begins her article letting us know of Chelsea Manning: “he identifies as a woman” but explains that the Times cannot just assume everyone will keep up if they switch from he to she immediately. But she ends her article, most meta-ly, saying 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.”

Likewise, Scott Stump above has had a change of heart and the article has been updated. He no longer refers to Chelsea Manning as “he.” Of course, Scott doesn’t use “she” either, instead he uses an ungendered “Manning” repeatedly. Perhaps he worries saying “she” or “Chelsea” he might be admitting defeat through polite behaviour.

That’s political correctness though. People feeling awkward and bullied into being less awful asshats. And it’s worked. You can’t be openly racist without shocking people and looking like an asshat. Likewise homophobic insults are on their way out. Trans* insults aren’t nearly there yet, but it seems they’re on their way.

Another thing to be grateful to Chelsea Manning for.

In case you were wondering, here’s some good reporting on trans* people discussing some other terrible reporting of trans* people. You will notice that none of this is complicated.