‘Transgender’ Ascendancy Guarantees Journalistic Confusion: Just Ask NPR

AP Photo/U.S. Army 640, bradley, chelsea manning
AP Photo/U.S. Army

For news outlets that really care, the transgender ascendancy and the pronouns therefrom are a real minefield.

National Public Radio’s ombudsman just published a head-scratcher about a transgender story that ran on their “Weekend Edition Sunday.”

The program featured a story about a man going by the name of Andrea Zekis, who now dresses and otherwise identifies as a woman. The story related his experiences in the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department when he started dressing like a woman.

Two complaints came in, both saying the NPR story put the man in harm’s way.

One listener complained that “Andrea’s birth name and pronouns were used for much longer than they had to be. The idea that it’s okay to call trans people, especially trans women, by names and pronouns they no longer use actually literally puts trans people in physical danger.”

Someone calling him or herself “QueenKylee” said, “calling someone by their birth name is not only offensive to that person, but in some cases, puts them at risk.”

It should be noted that photographs of the gentleman would tip off almost anyone that the she is a he.

Elizabeth Jensen, NPR Ombudsman, explained how this is all very difficult. She cited Bruce Jenner as an example. He now considers himself a woman, but he still wants to be called “he.”

Jensen laid out NRP’s “gender identity” policy:

People define their gender identities and we respect their decisions.

We respect their wishes if they change their names.

We respect their wishes on whether to be referred to as “he” or “she.”

If they have been in the public eye in the past, we remind listeners/readers about their histories. Chelsea Manning’s story is a recent example.

An update to the NPR website later in the day showed how hard it is to be politically correct in the new transgender world.

The NPR update quotes a Vox.com story about a BuzzFeed tweet:

“…[I]t’s “transgender,” not “transgendered.” “Transgendered” is the linguistic equivalent of describing someone as “blacked.”

Except, of course, just as no one can be “blacked,” no one can really be “transgendered” or “transgender.”

Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter: @austinruse.


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