Journalists: Commit to Fair and Accurate Coverage of Transgender People, including Pvt. Chelsea Manning

GLAAD Press Release:

September 4, 2013

Over 40 organizations call for improved media coverage of transgender people


Rich Ferraro
Vice President of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8011

The media has a long and poor track record of reporting on transgender people, and the coverage surrounding Private Chelsea Manning has brought that lack of fair and accurate coverage into sharp focus. The coverage that we have seen thus far has relied on stereotypical images, contrived confusion over names and pronouns, and an obsession with surgery. Examples include:

  • USA Today displaying a graphic that outlines several of the surgeries transgender women may elect to undergo, overemphasizing and sensationalizing the role of surgeries in the life of a transgender person.  A transgender identity is not determined by medical procedures.
  • The New York TimesWashington PostCNNNPRNBCFox NewsReuters, and a host of other outlets wrote articles that outlined the “struggles” that media outlets faced in referring to Private Manning as Chelsea or choosing a pronoun. The Washington Post, Fox News, and CNN still refuse to honor Private Manning’s preferred name and pronouns.
  • CNN’s Jake Tapper conducted an interview with a close friend of Manning, continually referring to Manning as Bradley, and also referring to his guest as a “gay man” when she is a transgender woman.

The media disrespected and insulted all transgender people by using phrases like “choose to be a girl,” and CNN panelist Richard Herman saying that Manning will “get good practice” as a woman in prison. Fox News offensively teased a broadcast segment on Private Manning by playing Aerosmith’s “Dude (Looks Like A Lady).”

Transgender people face tremendous levels of discrimination and violence. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), 53% of anti-LGBT homicide victims in 2012 were transgender women – most were transgender women of color. According to the report “Injustice at Every Turn”:

  • Transgender people experience unemployment at twice the rate of the general population, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate.
  • 90% of transgender people report experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job.
  • 22% of respondents who have interacted with police reported harassment by police, with much higher rates reported by people of color.
  • Almost half of the respondents (46%) reported being uncomfortable seeking police assistance.
  • 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population.

We, the undersigned organizations, call on journalists and media outlets to cover all transgender people with the dignity they deserve as human beings. Private Manning issued a public statement, read by her lawyer, that explicitly and unambiguously stated that she should be referred to as Chelsea and to use female pronouns. The Associated Press and TheNew York Times have both announced that they will refer to Chelsea as she requested, and other media outlets should do the same.

The Associated Press Style Guide states that when referring to a transgender person, to “Use the pronoun preferred by the individuals.” GLAAD’s full Media Reference Guide on reporting on transgender people may be found here.

The following are commonly accepted guidelines for covering a transgender person:

  • Always use a transgender person’s preferred name.
  • Whenever possible, ask transgender people which pronoun they would like used.  
  • Do not put quotation marks around either a transgender person’s preferred name or the pronoun that reflects that person’s gender identity.
  • Avoid pronoun confusion when examining the stories and backgrounds of transgender people prior to their transition. In Private Manning’s case, she may simply be referred to as Private Manning.

Private Manning’s story presents an opportunity for the media to do a better job of telling the story of everyday transgender people who are simply trying to live their lives. The media has an opportunity – and the responsibility – to improve its reporting and accurately reflect the lives of transgender people.

If your organization wishes to sign the statement, please email

Gay Veterans’ Spouses To Receive Benefits After DOJ Announces It Won’t Enforce Marriage Definition

From Huffington Post:


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has cleared the way for the spouses of gay veterans to receive military benefits, with the Justice Department declaring it will no longer enforce a provision of the law that states only heterosexual married couples are eligible.

Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Congressional leaders on Wednesday stating that the Justice Department had determined the Supreme Court’s rationale in a decision overturning part of the Defense of Marriage Act should also apply to Title 38, the part of the U.S. code that governs veterans’ benefits. The benefits include health care, disability and survival benefits, and burials in national cemeteries for military spouses. Title 38 currently defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Holder said last year that the Justice Department would no longer defend Title 38 in court. But Wednesday’s announcement went even further, with DOJ finding that the legal basis laid out by the Supreme Court in the DOMA decision should nullify the marriage definition in the provision. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki said just last week that the spouses of gay veterans weren’t eligible for benefits because no court had found Title 38’s definitions to be unconstitutional.

“Decisions by the Executive Branch not to enforce federal laws are appropriately rare,” Holder wrote in the letter, adding that in this case it was appropriate given that the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives had withdrawn from pending litigation challenging the constitutionality of Title 38’s constitutionality.

“The decision of the Supreme Court in Windsor reinforces the Executive’s conclusion that the Title 28 provisions are unconstitutional,” Holder wrote. Continued enforcement of Title 38 “would likely have a tangible adverse effect on the families of veterans and, in some circumstances, active-duty service members and reservists, with respect to survival, health care, home loan, and other benefits.”

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Christo-Nazi Bryan Fischer Spews Yet another Blood Libel

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Love Me I’m a Liberal

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And Then There Was One

From Tom Dispatch:

Delusional Thinking in the Age of the Single Superpower

By Tom Engelhardt
September 3, 2013

In an increasingly phantasmagorical world, here’s my present fantasy of choice: someone from General Keith Alexander’s outfit, the National Security Agency, tracks down H.G. Wells’s time machine in the attic of an old house in London.  Britain’s subservient Government Communications Headquarters, its version of the NSA, is paid off and the contraption is flown to Fort Meade, Maryland, where it’s put back in working order.  Alexander then revs it up and heads not into the future like Wells to see how our world ends, but into the past to offer a warning to Americans about what’s to come.

He arrives in Washington on October 23, 1962, in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a day after President Kennedy has addressed the American people on national television to tell them that this planet might not be theirs — or anyone else’s — for long.  (“We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth, but neither will we shrink from the risk at any time it must be faced.”)  Greeted with amazement by the Washington elite, Alexander, too, goes on television and informs the same public that, in 2013, the major enemy of the United States will no longer be the Soviet Union, but an outfit called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and that the headquarters of our country’s preeminent foe will be found somewhere in the rural backlands of… Yemen.

Yes, Yemen, a place most Americans, then and now, would be challenged to find on a world map.  I guarantee you one thing: had such an announcement actually been made that day, most Americans would undoubtedly have dropped to their knees and thanked God for His blessings on the American nation.  Though even then a nonbeliever, I would undoubtedly have been among them.  After all, the 18-year-old Tom Engelhardt, on hearing Kennedy’s address, genuinely feared that he and the few pathetic dreams of a future he had been able to conjure up were toast.

Had Alexander added that, in the face of AQAP and similar minor jihadist enemies scattered in the backlands of parts of the planet, the U.S. had built up its military, intelligence, and surveillance powers beyond anything ever conceived of in the Cold War or possibly in the history of the planet, Americans of that time would undoubtedly have considered him delusional and committed him to an asylum.

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Obama’s Strategically Incompetent, Useless and Nonsensical War Push

From The Nation:

Bob Dreyfuss
on September 3, 2013

In the midst of President Obama’s reckless push for war—a strategically incompetent, useless and nonsensical attack on Syria—the International Crisis Group has put forth a useful counterpoint, namely, a path toward a diplomatic solution. However remote that might be, at this stage of the game, it’s the only way out, and it’s good that it’s been developed by an establishment organization whose leadership includes many former US and foreign diplomats.

But it’s too late, since Obama—with the able assistance of the Israel lobby, pro-war neoconservatives, and hawks of all kinds (liberal and conservative)—is all but assured of getting Congress to approve his wrath-of-God strike. Obama assures the public and Congress that his aims in attacking Syria are limited, and that he isn’t seeking regime change in Syria, but I don’t believe that for a second. You’ll recall that in March 2003 President George W. Bush, who at least had the crazed courage to declare his intent of forcible regime change in Iraq, jumped his own gun by launching a strike at Baghdad a day or two before the war officially began because the United States had intelligence, faulty as it turned out, that Saddam Hussein was in a specific location in the Iraqi capital. I expect that today the crack US intelligence spotters are once again hoping that they can kill President Bashar al-Assad via a cruise missile strike, thus decapitating the regime.

For Assad’s sake, let’s hope that his elegant and sophisticated wife, who—before it was decided by the powers-that-be that Assad was worse than Hitler was profiled by Vogue—has squirreled away a secret cellphone on which to call her family, since undoubtedly if the CIA doesn’t have the number to trace her location using it, Vogue’s helpful, national security–minded editors will happily provide it to the agency.

Trying its best to remind Obama and the world that might-makes-right isn’t the best solution in Syria and that the top priority is to remember to do what’s best for the people of Syria, the International Crisis Group says:

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War Drums: Obama Hints at a Much Larger Attack in Syria to Order to Win Over Republicans

From Alternet:

President suggests missile strikes could lead to longer-term mission after political negotiations in Washington.

By Dan Roberts, Spencer Ackerman
September 3, 2013

Barack Obama portrayed his plans for US military action in  Syria as part of a broader strategy to topple  Bashar al-Assad, as tougher White House rhetoric began  to win over sceptical Republicans in Congress on Tuesday.

While stressing that Washington’s primary goal remained “limited and proportional” attacks, to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities and deter their future use, the president hinted at a broader long-term mission that may ultimately bring about a change of regime.

“It also fits into a broader strategy that can bring about over time the kind of strengthening of the opposition and the diplomatic, economic and political pressure required – so that ultimately we have a transition that can bring peace and stability, not only to Syria but to the region,” he told senior members of Congress at a White House meeting on Tuesday.

Obama has long spoken of the US desire to see Assad step down, but this is the first time he has linked that policy objective to his threatened military strikes against Syria. It follows pressure on Monday,  from senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, to make such a goal more explicit.

The apparent change of emphasis appeared to resolve some of the political deadlock on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, as House speaker John Boehner and a series of other Republican leaders announced that they would back the president’s call for military authorisation from Congress.

There was more good news for Obama when secretary of state John Kerry and defence secretary Chuck Hagel got a relatively easy ride when they testified later to the Senate foreign relations committee, convened in special session to discuss the issue of military authorisation.

The endorsement of GOP leaders could be important in winning over the Republican-controlled House, where Obama has failed to win any support since his re-election in November. But even the Republican leadership has struggled to control Tea Party radicals in the House, and an anti-interventionist wing in the Senate led by Rand Paul remains a substantial challenge for the White House.

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I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore

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The Fight for the Right to Grow Medical Marijuana

From High Times:


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Ringo Starr – Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival – 8. Bang On The Drum All Day (Todd Rundgren)

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Overcoming ‘Overburden’: The Climate Crisis and a Unified Left Agenda

From Common Dreams:

Why unions need to join the climate fight

by Naomi Klein

The following remarks were delivered on September 1, 2013 at the founding convention of UNIFOR, a new mega union created by the Canadian Autoworkers and the Canadian Energy and Paper Workers Union, and provided to Common Dreams by the author for publication. 

I’m so very happy and honoured to be able to share this historic day with you.

The energy in this room — and the hope the founding of this new union has inspired across the country – is contagious.

It feels like this could be the beginning of the fight back we have all been waiting for, the one that will chase Harper from power and restore the power of working people in Canada.

So welcome to the world UNIFOR.

A lot of your media coverage so far has focused on how big UNIFOR is — the biggest private sector union in Canada. And when you are facing as many attacks as workers are in this country, being big can be very helpful. But big is not a victory in itself.

The victory comes when this giant platform you have just created becomes a place to think big, to dream big, to make big demands and take big actions. The kind of actions that will shift the public imagination and change our sense of what is possible.

And it’s that kind of “big” that I want to talk to you about today.

Some of you are familiar with a book I wrote called The Shock Doctrine. It argues that over the past 35 years, corporate interests have systematically exploited various forms of mass crises – economic shocks, natural disasters, wars – in order to ram through policies that enrich a small elite, by shredding regulations, cutting social spending and forcing large-scale privatizations.

As Jim Stanford and Fred Wilson argue in their paper laying out UNIFOR’s vision, the attacks working people in Canada and around the world are facing right now are a classic case of The Shock Doctrine.

There’s no shortage of examples, from the mass slashing of salaries and layoffs of public sector workers in Greece, to the attacks on pension funds in Detroit in the midst of a cooked up bankruptcy, to the Harper government’s scapegoating of unions for its own policy failures right here in Canada.

I don’t want to spend my time with you proving that this ugly tactic of exploiting public fear for private gain is alive and well. You know it is; you are living it.

I want to talk about how we fight it.

And I’ll be honest with you: when I wrote the book, I thought that just understanding how the tactic worked, and mobilizing to resist it, would be enough to stop it. We even had a slogan: “Information is shock resistance. Arm yourself.”

But I have to admit something to you: I was wrong. Just knowing what is happening – just rejecting their story, saying to the politicians and bankers: “No, you created this crisis, not us” or “No, we’re not broke, it’s just that you are hording all the money” may be true but it’s not enough.

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The Power to Reshape the Status Quo in America Lies With Amateurs, Dreamers and Rebels

From Alternet:

An interview with author Alissa Quart about her new book ‘Republic of Outsiders.’

By Lynn Stuart Parramore
August 21, 2013

In her new book, Republic of Outsiders: The Power of Amateurs, Dreamers and Rebels, journalist Alissa Quart dives into American subculture, talking to vegans, trans-feminists, bipolar pride activists, amateurs, indie filmmakers, rebels, do-it-yourselfers, and various misfits. These are people failed by authority figures, and for whom traditional roles and paths don’t work. In her book, late-state capitalism is a place where, through the Internet and new technologies, outsiders can flourish and transform society. I caught up with Alissa to ask her about the triumphs of these outsiders, and some of the pitfalls they face in navigating the 21st century.

Lynn Stuart Parramore: What made you want to want to write about outsiders at this particular time?

Alissa Quart: I grew up around the edges of the counterculture in New York. My parents’ friends were activists, Marxist historians, things like that. We lived near the East Village. In a way my parents were connoisseurs of outsiders. We’d go to screenings of avant-garde films where the directors would be around. I’d yearn for some normalcy — I wanted pink sneakers and Atari, but instead I got difficult art and foreign films. I was reading esoteric books. I guess you could say I was primed to be a specialized kid, writing poetry from an early age. I was inculcated to become an appreciator of outsider artistic culture, if not political culture.

But Manhattan changed from a place of outsiders into a place of franchise stores and incredibly expensive apartments. It became a city of money. I was looking, I guess,  for Atlantis, that lost world of my childhood. I wanted to know what had happened to the counterculture.

Right now, we see structures failing us – banks, responses to Katrina, people falling through the cracks with healthcare and mental healthcare services. I became interested in how people were caring for themselves at a time when established figures were no longer there for them.

I was also a journalist who had studied and taught journalism. I’d written two books and I felt really encroached upon by bloggers and amateurs who were making my profession no longer economically feasible. There was a complicated set of issues for me.

So that’s it: I wanted to see where counterculture had gone, to look at positive stories of people coping—the dandelions in the cracks of our society—and also to make peace with what was happening in journalism.

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Radiation at Fukushima Soars to Highest Level Yet

From Common Dreams:

As officials tout ‘ice wall’ experiment, more lethal levels of radioactivity detected

Andrea Germanos

Record high radiation levels were detected at the disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan’s nuclear regulator and plant operator TEPCO said on Wednesday, raising more concerns that the spiraling catastrophe has no end in sight.

Officials said they had detected radiation of levels of 2,200 millisieverts per hour on Tuesday near contaminated water storage tanks. That’s a rise of 20% from the previous high, the Guardian reports.

The announcement comes just days after officials said they had detected lethal radiation levels 18 times higher than previously documented because the testing equipment they were using could only read measurements of up to a maximum of 100 millisieverts per hour.

Reuters notes that “both [the 2,200 and 1,800] levels would be enough to kill an unprotected person within hours.”

Also festering at the plant is the buildup of contaminated water, which has proven an unsustainable crisis. There has also been as a series of leaks from storage tanks and pipes.

Mycle Schneider, lead author for the World Nuclear Industry status reports, told BBC News last month that the problem of water leaks “is much worse than we have been led to believe, much worse.” There are leaks “not just from the tanks. It is leaking out from the basements, it is leaking out from the cracks all over the place,” he said.  Further, the head of Japan’s nuclear regulatory body warned on Monday that there may be no other option than to dump radioactive waste water into the Pacific.

In a desperate attempt to stop the leaks, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Tuesday the government plans to invest nearly $500 million in a giant “ice wall” surrounding the plant.

Nuclear engineer Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research called the wall of ice plan a “risky experiment.” Speaking on PBS Newshour, Makhijani explained:

I don’t know that an ice wall like this has been tried before.

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Fukushima farce reveals nuclear industry’s fatal flaw

From The Guardian UK:

Keeping the lid on costs when the task is to keep the lid on a slow motion atomic explosion is an impossible challenge

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Once upon a time, when the nuclear industry was shiny and new, it simply burned uranium. Now, old and tarnished, it burns money. From the promise of nuclear electricity being too cheap to meter, we now have costs that are too great to count.

At the site of the Fukushima meltdown in Japan, the government is being forced to spend over £200m on a fanciful-sounding underground ice wall in the latest desperate attempt to halt the radiation-contaminated water that is leaking into the sea.

When mere stopgaps cost this much, it is clear any real solution will cost the earth. Japanese taxpayers have already had to bail out the operator Tepco to the tune of £6.5bn. The final clean up will cost tens of billions and take 40 years.

Yet supporters maintain that nuclear power offers affordable low-carbon electricity and is a vital tool in the fight to curb climate change. The UK government, already spending most of its energy budget on nuclear clean up, has crashed through deadline after deadline in a fruitless search to find anybody willing to build new nuclear power stations at reasonable cost.

The only serious players left in the game are those backed by the French, Chinese and Russian states, whose interest in power is as much political as electrical. Commercial companies have fled the scene.

The fundamental reason why the price of nuclear power climbs each day as surely as the rising sun is a straightforward one. Keeping a lid on costs is impossible if the task in hand is keeping the lid on an exploding atomic bomb.

For that is what a nuclear reactor is, a slow motion detonation. That intrinsic danger means that as each new risk to reactors is discovered, more and more expensive measures need to be put in place as mitigation. When accidents happen, as they will over a half century or more of operation, the intrinsic risk of radioactive materials means more money is piled on the bonfire to ensure the risk to the public is limited.

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