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Sunday, 30 May 2010

Writing Letters

Ok, so this arrested couple in Malawi has been in the news lately. To quote the New York Times, "A gay couple in Malawi sentenced to 14 years in prison for 'unnatural acts' . . .." The good news: they were pardoned! Yay!

The bad news? From the same article, "Late Saturday, Mr. Chimbalanga, who has said he considers himself a woman in a man’s body, and Mr. Monjeza were released from custody." What the fuck is this? I don't even . . .

The AP Stylebook has fucking rules about how you talk about trans people. They do not include referring to women as "Mr." nor "he." Nor do they involve referring to man/woman couples as "gay." That sentence above is the most ungendering piece of shit they've yet to turn out this century. Yes, he might consider himself a woman, but here in New York, we certainly know better! Because, apparently, Africans are not worthy of having their identities recovered? Or is the NYT just looking for any excuse to be transphobic in general?

Alas, the Times is not alone in this shit. I highly encourage you to write letters to any newspaper you see that disregards the gender identity of Ms. Chimbalanga.

Seriously, we in the first would want to be all moral high ground about this, but our newspapers can't seem to manage to respect her either.

To: letters@nytimes.com

Subject: AP Stylebook Guidelines for referring to transgender people

Dear Sir or Madam,

In your article, "Malawi President Pardons Gay Couple" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/30/world/africa/30malawi.html?partner=rss&emc=rss), you mention that one of the people arrested, Ms. Chimbalanga, identifies as a woman. The AP Stylebook has guidelines for how to refer to transgender people. It does not include referring to transgender women as "he" or "Mr" nor does it include referring to man/woman couples as "gay." I have no idea what your motivation is to entirely disregard and disrespect this woman's identity. It is entirely inappropriate and you should know better.

Thank you for your time,
Charles Celeste Hutchins

1 comment:

Zack M. Davis said...

Technical quibble: The New York Times has its own style guide, so you should criticize them for ignoring their own rules, not for failing to conform to AP Style.