On today's date in The Beacon archives, we published:•21c Hotel Celebration of Discrimination (2012)
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Posted by The Dean of Cincinnati
Over at the Queer Cincinnati blog, Barry has been following some stories that feature inappropriate use of genderized pronouns when reporting on non-standard individuals (from a gender identity perspective). Here’s his latest entry. (Here’s an earlier one.) I must admit, when I first started thinking about this issue, I wasn’t sure about Barry’s position. I mean, if a man presents himself (herself?) as a woman, should a news reporter really ignore the fact of his (her?) physical maleness when using pronouns in a story? In other words, should a reporter call a man “she” if that’s how the person presents herself? (I’m confusing myself with all these pronouns! Yet another argument supporting the singluar “their.” )
Anyway, rather than try to figure things out on my own, I was curious how something like the AP Style Guide might provide clarity for addressing gender identity in situations like this. I mean, there is no argument with The Enquirer or WCPO, for example, if they are following assigned form; in that case the issue would be with AP. So I did some light internet browsing and found this resource outlining AP Style Guide definitions.
ASSOCIATED PRESS (2006)
gay Used to describe men and women attracted to the same sex, though lesbian is the more common term for women. Preferred over homosexual except in clinical contexts or references to sexual activity.
Include sexual orientation only when it is pertinent to a story, and avoid references to “sexual preference” or to a gay or alternative “lifestyle.”
lesbian See gay.
transgender Use 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.
If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.
transsexuals See transgender.
So it seems that, according to the AP Style Guide, sexual orientation is irrelevant if not central to the story, and individuals should be referred to using the genderized pronouns of their choice. So, a man who dresses as a woman is “she,” according to the style book. End of argument (unless you are a homophobe who wishes to accost the AP).
Therefore, any time the Enquirer messes this up, someone should request a correction, and follow the Gannett chain if the paper doesn’t do the right thing.
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