Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Man, I Feel Like a Woman

And just when you think life couldn't get any stranger, along comes a notice from the Associated Press that we reporters are to "Use Private Chelsea E. Manning and female pronouns for the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning, per her wishes to live as a woman."

In case you missed it last week, Manning announced after his conviction and sentence for espionage that he wants a sex change operation and hormone therapy while he is locked up in the brig.  I--and a number of others--find the timing of this declaration to be a bit dubious.  Had Manning made this declaration prior to his arrest for leaking documents to Wikileaks, he would have been discharged--as that is the Army's policy on transgender issues.  Now that he is a military prisoner, he cannot be discharged.  Secondly, now that Manning is a "ward of the state" if you will, the medical expenses for the sex-change procedure would have to be covered by we the taxpayers.  We may not have to worry about that, since military policy does not provide for sex change procedures or hormone-therapy to prisoners--but expect plenty of "outrage" from the left and calls to overturn that provision.  And finally, Manning decides it's time to live as a woman right after he is ordered to spend 35-years hard time in a men's prison--which by all accounts, can be pretty darn nasty for those seen as being weak by certain segments of the population.

Now for those of us in the journalistic field, the AP decision raises some very difficult questions.  Is gender now to be considered what a person thinks they are, or what genitalia nature gave them?  Often times, we in the press are provided only basic information on people in the early stages of many breaking news events.  Releases and statements on car crashes, house fires and criminal arrests usually include just gender, age and hometown.  So how are we to accurately process the gender information given to us by less "politically sensitive" law enforcement officials?  Let me give you an example

One person is killed and two others are injured in a Winnebago County crash.  The sheriff's department says a car driven by a person with male sexual organs--but an unknown gender declaration--ran a stop sign along County Road X and collided with a vehicle operated by a person with a believed female gender identity around 6:00 last night.  The driver believed to be a man was declared dead at the scene.  The person with female genitalia was transported to the hospital with life threatening injuries.  Her passenger, a three year with male sexual organs but who is too young to have established a gender identity, was treated for minor injuries.

And then we in the press wonder how we come in below politicians in the "Most Admired Careers" polls every year.

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