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I've been a copy editor for 25 years. This morning I was reading this article (https://archive.ph/kY96x) about a vile TIM involved with the Trans Journalists Association and getting really pissed. Guys like this are proof that this movement is not really about civil rights at all, because if it were, they would avoid associating with people like this. Instead, these thugs are spearheading the capture of the news media to push their toxic, stupid, sexist ideology. I thought I ought to write to editors at the New York Times and other papers to let them know, just in case they didn't know, that they're endorsing a movement of woman-haters, citing this article as a prime example. Do you think this is worth doing, and if so, do you have ideas about other points I should make or sources I should cite?

I've been a copy editor for 25 years. This morning I was reading this article (https://archive.ph/kY96x) about a vile TIM involved with the Trans Journalists Association and getting really pissed. Guys like this are proof that this movement is not really about civil rights at all, because if it were, they would avoid associating with people like this. Instead, these thugs are spearheading the capture of the news media to push their toxic, stupid, sexist ideology. I thought I ought to write to editors at the New York Times and other papers to let them know, just in case they didn't know, that they're endorsing a movement of woman-haters, citing this article as a prime example. Do you think this is worth doing, and if so, do you have ideas about other points I should make or sources I should cite?

3 comments

I would begin with the reminder that a functioning democracy needs a free press that tells the truth in clear and unambiguous language. That sunlight is the best disinfectant and telling the truth means you don’t decide that some truths need to be hidden from view. I would challenge them to challenge the narratives they adopted - most opposed people ever, sterilization as life-saving care, etc. Remind them that such claims need to be reported as just that, claims, and further to “educate themselves” on the veracity of what they report as “settled science’. I definitely would direct them to SEGM - the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine.

Along these lines, I would point out that gender identity is defined to be an entirely subjective, internal, idiosyncratic belief about one’s self, and their job is to utilize a framework and language based in material realities. So males are men and females are women, and pronouns are sex-based for clarity and simplicity. I actually think this is critical. Wrong-sex Pronouns disguise and obscure the truth, and it’s important to reclaim sex-based pronouns for standard usage in reporting. Good luck and please share!

Definitely, this is a great idea. I think it's important to note that this issue, hence the language, is contested, (you can cite that recent Pew poll) and that where there is a contested issue, journalists must adopt a neutral position.

I happen to have a 1999 edition of 'The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage" written by two of the paper's editing/style gurus (so I don't think it matters that its old, one can still cite it as authoritative) Allan M. Siegal and William G. Connolly. that makes this point. Here's the sentence from the Foreword (p viii) that one could cite along the lines of "as Allan Siegal and William Connolly pointed out in the Foreward to *The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage * (1999)" in a passage that is arguably even more relevant today:

"The manual favors constructions that keep language neutral, a crystalline medium through which journalists report ideas without proclaiming stances."

FYI, I should include that whole paragraph so you know the context...esp given what comes before that sentence:

"Nowadays any style manual must grapple with the vocabulary of social issues. This one counsels respect for the group sensibilities and preferences that have made themselves heard in the last two or three decades- concerns, for example, of women, minorities and those with disabilities. The manual favors constructions that keep language neutral, a crystalline medium through which journalists report ideas without proclaiming stances. That advice takes its most explicit form in the entry on MEN AND WOMEN. It is worth recalling that in 1976, a more limited entry was called simply "women." Sexual equality had yet to be elevated, at least by The Times, to an agenda for society over all.)"

If one turns to "Women" in the guide it says (haha): "See MEN AND WOMEN"...It's a two-page entry... you probably don't want it, but I'm happy to supply. And as a 25-year veteran, you probably already have all this (and I know the style guide is available to buy) so apologies if so.

ABORTION as exemplar: Also as a veteran copy editor you'll know the efforts style guides went to to NOT take a side on the abortion issue, eschewing language that privileged either side, so choosing generally NOT to use "pro-choice" or "pro-life" because those are the labels the sides gave themselves. The Times guide for example, said "Impartial terms include abortion rights advocate and anti-abortion campaigner..." This same approach must apply here, which means the media CANNOT adopt the style guidelines proffered by one side of this issue, i.e. the Trans Journalists Association. I doubt you'll get them to take 'our' side, obviously, but I am convinced a water-tight case can be made that they must not take 'their' side either.

TL;DR Great idea, I reckon highlight that this is a contested issue and in such cases journalists must not take sides, just as they took pains not to do on the abortion issue.

Hope you let us know how it goes...

The optimist in me says definitely write. You never know who will read it, how close they are to peaking or whether they agree, but have been too scared to speak up. You also never know whether they've received other similar opinions. I say go for it.