NYTimes, AP Will Now Call Bradley Manning 'Chelsea,' Use Female Pronouns

August 27th, 2013 3:43 PM

*Corrected from earlier | "Starting tomorrow, The New York Times and The Associated Press will refer to Bradley Manning as Chelsea Manning, 'formerly know as Pfc. Bradley Manning,' honoring the former soldier's request to be addressed as a female," Politico media reporter Dylan Byers noted yesterday* afternoon. Not only will AP and the Times refer to Manning with female pronouns, but in an email, an AP editor insisted that Manning "will henceforth use Pvt. Chelsea E. Manning... in accordance with her wishes to live as a woman."

For his part, however, Byers (and presumably the rest of Politico), is sticking with "he" when describing Manning:

Manning announced last week that he intended to live as a woman named Chelsea Manning. In a statement, he asked that "starting today you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun."

Initial reports about Manning's announcement by the Times, The Associated Press, and others referred to Manning as a male, though the AP stylebook states that media outlets should use "the pronoun preferred by the individual," suggesting a forthcoming change to the feminine.

That is true, but not completely. According to the AP Stylebook, AP writers are to "[u]se 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."

Manning has not yet received hormone therapy nor surgery and one presumes that his manner of dress in a military prison will be dictated by the prison uniform for male prisoners.

Additionally, it is quite incorrect to describe Bradley Manning as one "Pvt. Chelsea E. Manning." Chelsea may be the name by which he wishes to be called, but as the AP itself has reported, Manning has yet to get either a court nor the U.S. military to legally change his first name.

The New York Times, perhaps recognizing this legal issue, will not refer to Manning as Pvt. Chelsea Manning but rather "Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Pfc. Bradley Manning."

[For the sake of accuracy, recall that Manning was demoted from private first class (Pfc.) to private (Pvt.) as part of his conviction at court martial.]

For our part, although we at NewsBusters generally follow AP Style, we will continue to refer to Private Bradley Manning by his given name and use masculine pronouns to refer to him.