Forget debates over bathrooms or pronouns. The Associated Press recently released new guidelines suppressing the very concept of transgenderism as an ideology that can be debated, while forcing that ideology on reporters in the name of promoting good journalism.
The AP is the most common stylebook among journalists and news outlets on the Left and Right, including The Daily Signal. The Daily Signal does depart from AP style when the style guide adopts ideological messaging on abortion, transgender identity, and other issues, however.
In a classic example of “1984”-style doublethink, good journalists are required to abide by transgender ideology, while denying that such an ideology exists. AP’s most recent style guide update—published Thursday—instructs them to use a person’s “preferred” pronouns, deny that sex is a biological fact recognized at or before birth, and use the euphemism “gender-affirming care” when describing experimental medical interventions that leave patients stunted, scarred, and infertile.
Reporters are to adopt wholesale the claim that a person’s internal sense of gender overrides his or her biological sex and to discount opposition to these claims.
Yet they are apparently barred from discussing the ideas behind this ideology, or the ideology itself.
The most recent update to the AP style guide is quite clear: “Do not use the term transgenderism, which frames transgender identity as an ideology.”
Yet the entire document is dripping with this ideology.
“Avoid references to a transgender person being born a boy or girl, or phrasing like birth gender,” the guide urges. “Sex assigned at birth is the accurate terminology.” The document goes on to claim that “sex is usually assigned at birth by parents or attendants, sometimes inaccurately.”
While the document acknowledges that gender—not sex—is a “social construct,” the use of the phrase “sex assigned at birth” implies that biological sex is also socially constructed, rather than a central reality of humanity that enables people to reproduce. Transgender ideology relies on muddying the waters in this way, suggesting that transgender identity is the real fact, so changing a person’s body to match a gender identity opposite his or her biological sex is “affirming,” rather than destructive.
This is an extremely controversial claim, but the AP guidelines actively suppress dissent.
The update parrots pro-transgender claims that are hotly debated in the medical community. The document states that children can take “puberty blockers,” which it describes as “fully reversible prescription medication that pauses sexual maturation.” It does not note that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved drugs such as Lupron for that purpose, nor that authorities use Lupron to chemically castrate sex offenders.
The AP guide accuses “opponents of youth transgender medical treatment” of citing “widely discredited research,” failing to note that many of the studies pro-transgender activists use to endorse experimental interventions have themselves been discredited. For example, doctors have condemned as “fatally flawed” a recent study claiming to show improvements from cross-sex hormones.
Perhaps most horrifically, the much-touted Dutch study that first gave credence to the idea of transgender medical interventions ultimately involved a male subject who died from an infection after surgeons tried to use some of his digestive tract to construct a false vagina.
While the AP guide acknowledges that “all these treatments have potential side effects,” it nonetheless endorses them. It urges reporters to “avoid the word mutilation, a politicized and subjective term often used to mischaracterize surgery.”
The document urges journalists to “avoid terms like biological sex, along with biological male and biological female, which opponents of transgender rights sometimes use to refer to transgender women and transgender men, respectively.” AP argues that such terms are “redundant because sex is inherently biological.” Yet opponents of transgenderism use “biological” to emphasize the truth of biology against the very ideology AP insists journalists never mention.
In a few instances, the AP guide rightly discourages obnoxious or outdated terms like “tranny” and “transgendered.” It also urges journalists to avoid the terms “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” or the acronym “TERF,” to refer to critics of transgenderism.
However, the guidelines also discourage reporters from using “gender-critical” to describe those who oppose transgenderism, even though many advocates have consciously embraced that term.
The guidelines also encourage reporters to avoid using the term “groomer,” without acknowledging critics’ concerns that events such as Drag Queen Story Hour and LGBT lessons at young ages make children vulnerable to abuse.
The Associated Press style guide has long urged journalists to adopt a person’s preferred pronouns, regardless of biological sex, but the guide also forbids journalists from referring to “preferred or chosen pronouns,” instead using phrases such as “the pronouns they use, whose pronouns are, who uses the pronouns.”
When it comes to sports, the new AP entry urges journalists to avoid “phrasing that misgenders people or implies doubt, such as former men’s swimmer or currently competes as a woman.”
Journalists should not even imply doubt, much less actually express it.
God forbid they actually use a specific term to discuss this ideology, rather than merely adopting it wholesale.
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