Thanks to social media, NPR will now refer to Chelsea Manning as “she” instead of “he”

npr-logoTHE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — Initially, this piece was intended to help put further pressure on NPR (National Public Radio) to reverse a then apparent policy of using gender pronouns that correspond with birth sex until, according to claims made in transgender groups on social media, after medical treatment is completed.

But before I could confirm that this was indeed NPR’s official policy, they came out with a statement saying that their thinking has evolved and they would now honor Manning’s stated gender preference.

NPR’s Managing Editor for Standards and Practice Stu Seidel’s statement to the NPR newsroom:

Dear All:

Army Private Manning’s request to no longer be known as “Bradley” is one NPR should respect. We allow people to decide what they want to be called. Manning asks to be called “Chelsea.” (This is different from granting anonymity or using a pseudonym for a source, since Private Manning has made public his decision to change his name.)

Manning also asked to be referred to as “she,” not “he.” That request gets into many questions of defining an individual’s gender that we feel are best left to the person in question, so long as we are telling a complete story.

Arguably, the earliest identification any of us is given is whether we’re a “boy” or a “girl; a “he” or a “she.” Our gender is on our birth certificate, our driver’s license, countless forms, and so on.

Does an individual’s sense of his or her own identity trump those designations?

Like so many of our journalism colleagues, we’ve had numerous newsroom conversations over the last two days about how NPR should refer to Manning. Yesterday, we decided to make clear in first reference that Bradley Manning wished to be known as “Chelsea,” and we decided to use male-related pronouns on later references. Our thinking has evolved.

We are fond of saying that our style and language use is always open to challenge and subject to change. We also believe that a healthy newsroom is open to debate and reflection. In the past day, we have been challenged by listeners and readers and by colleagues at our member stations and in our newsroom, raising a chorus of views, including requests to rethink, backed up by arguments that make good sense. We have been persuaded. . . .”


My hat’s off to everyone who pressured NPR to reconsider their policy. This is another example how social media is used to improve our lives.

Special thanks to Melville Lee Petrosky.


Full statement from NPR:

NPR Issues New Guidance On Manning’s Gender Identity : The Two-Way : NPR.



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Categories: Transgender, Transsexual, Trans

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8 replies

  1. Still using male prononus in their statement.

  2. Here, NPR is listening to public pressure. I’m surprised that they didn’t subscribe to the Associated Press’ reporting standards of word usage…. In other items, NPR is listening to Koch pressure. No one NPR cash contributor should be allowed to donate any more than 5% of NPR’s total contribution income for the year. That way, NPR won’t have to kowtow to any filthy rich stinker’s control on what should be run or not run on the NPR broadcast.

  3. This is stupid. You refer to someone’s gender in accordance with how they present themselves. Or do you have to check someone’s ID or look between their legs first before making reference.

  4. Thanks for passing this on, Lexie. The letter isn’t perfect, but I’m glad we’ve helped them be respectful to Chelsea. Keep up the good work!

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