The Pronoun Game

The media say
Bradley Manning, today
Has decided he’s making a change
He’s making a stand
With his latest demand
But reactions have been a bit… strange.

Cos as far as I see,
It’s all “Bradley” and “he”
Like the networks are sharing one plan
But it’s Chelsea, you see,
(And the pronoun is “she”)
Who’s stopped living her life as a man

So… on Here and Now, on NPR, the hosts announced Manning’s request, and that they would be referring to her as Chelsea from now on. But the rest of NPR (at least while I was listening) was not on the same page. Most of the news sources that I have seen have struggled a bit, most often landing on “he” and “Bradley”.

This blog, unless I suffer some sharp blow to the head at some point, will speak of her as Chelsea. Comments, too, please. My house, my rules.

Ok, that’s done. The real reason for this post was to point you to Zinnia’s blog (I’m sure most of you are already readers), where Lauren simply rocks.


  1. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    I guess not everyone else is in the here and now, which is forever a point in time after Chelsea made her identity clear.

  2. Timothy (TRiG) says

    I was listening to this news on BBC Radio 4 last night, and they consistently used male pronouns. Perhaps I’ll send them a sharply-worded letter. It was annoying me.


  3. says

    @Timothy #2 – The BBC and several other news outlets have policies to use a person’s LEGAL name and gender rather than follow the preference of the person. Until Manning get her documents changed — and her situation will make that very difficult, unfortunately — expect the continued use of Bradley and masculine.

    Another issue that some people seem to be struggling with is how to reconcile a person pre-announcement and post-announcement. It’s not just a matter of educating the media outlets: they have to work out how to make sure that their audiences understand that it is the same person. That is especially difficult when you have a very high profile person who has been in the news constantly for three years.

  4. Vicki says

    I’m not reassured by “they aren’t just doing this because they disapprove of her, their policy is to misgender even trans* people they approve of.”

    At least one news outlet is dodging the question by saying “Pvt. Manning” (a non-gendered honorific), and otherwise avoiding pronouns: “lawyer said” or “Manning’s lawyer said” rather than “her lawyer” or “his lawyer.” And “Private Manning” or a footnote “this is the Manning connected to Wikileaks” will provide continuity.

  5. gshelley says

    The Guardian has consistently used Chelsea and She since the announcement. So much so that I even saw one complaint in the comments that they were probably using “she” so much to make some sort of point.

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