In an #APStyleChat Twitter session Tuesday afternoon, The Associated Press’s official Stylebook account counseled journalists to not describe a transgender individual as having been “born” a certain sex.
“Call people transgender only if relevant; give the name they use publicly; avoid references to being born a boy or girl,” wrote @APStylebook during the interactive Twitter session.
The wire agency then urged writers to “[a]void transgendered or transsexual; don’t call someone a transgender; trans is OK on second reference and in headlines.”
In a subsequent tweet, the AP prescribed the terminology to be used to refer to an individual’s medical procedures for transitioning: “For medical procedures often but not always used for a transition, say sex reassignment or gender confirmation.”
The Associated Press initially announced its Stylebook changes regarding gender-identity issues in March. The entries were updated on Oct. 9, apparently prompting the new chat session on Twitter. For example, “[the] usage of gender confirmation is new to the gender entry on Stylebook Online today,” the AP said in a tweet.
One change the AP is still declining to make is the approval of designer gender-pronouns such as xe or ze. But in Tuesday’s chat, the wire service suggested it was possible the news agency would change its mind if the adoption of those nontraditional pronouns became more widespread.
Asked by one reader, “Why are neutral pronouns like ze/zir not OK?”, @APStylebook answered that “For broad audiences, it’s best to use terms with which people are most familiar.”
“We are open to revisiting if usage increases.”
Meanwhile, the intersection of gender politics and journalism has led another iconic news agency to name an editor assigned to the “gender” beat.
Teen Vogue magazine reported Tuesday that Jessica Bennett, formerly of Newsweek, will soon join the New York Times as its first ever “gender editor.”
“To me, what gender issues means is not simply coverage of feminism or issues related to women’s rights,” Ms. Bennett said, reported Teen Vogue. “Though of course that is important, and we’re committed to approaching those issues and approaching them from an instersectional lens. But I think for a place like the Times, this type of content needs to exist throughout every section of the paper.
“So whether that means stories about gender identity, or sexuality, or masculinity, or race and class and how that plays into gender identity, or simply the subjects that the Times already covers — politics, international affairs, science, health. But approaching these subjects through a lens of gender,” she added.
“The reality is that institutions, and old-school media institutions, were primarily created by and for white men,” Ms. Bennett said, according to Teen Vogue. “But that has changed.”