In recent weeks, Private Chelsea Manning's court case has brought the reality of transgender military service - and transgender Americans - into focus as few other events have. Unfortunately, it has also reminded us of how ill-prepared our national media is when it comes to covering this important issue.
As a result, we have seen CNN refusing to reference Manning by her preferred name and gender. Meanwhile, Fox News mocked her - and in doing so all transgender individuals - with an insulting and derogatory choice of song to tease one of its segments on the issue. And an MSNBC guest made light of Manning's medical need for hormone therapy, mischaracterizing the treatment as simply an attempt to "coddle" her.
Today, Equality Matters is pleased to join more than 40 organizations calling on journalists and media outlets to cover all transgender people with the dignity they deserve as human beings. In Manning's case, she issued a public statement read by her lawyer that explicitly and unambiguously stated that she should be referred to as Chelsea, accompanied by appropriate female pronouns. The Associated Press and The New York Times each rightly have announced that they will refer to Chelsea as she requested, and other media outlets should do the same.
Consider these facts.
According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), 53 percent of anti-LGBT homicide victims in 2012 were transgender women - most were transgender women of color.