Media Twists Itself Into Knots Covering Transgender School Shooter


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Laurel Duggan Social Issues and Culture Reporter
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Corporate media outlets have stumbled around the name and pronouns of a shooter who killed three schoolchildren and three adults Monday after the public learned that the killer was transgender.

Police identified Audrey Hale, a 28-year-old woman who used male pronouns and identified as transgender, as the person behind the shooting, but initial reports referred to Hale as a woman. Mainstream outlets had initially called Hale a woman in their headlines, stories and tweets; rather than referring to the killer by preferred pronouns, some outlets are avoiding references to gender altogether. (RELATED: ‘This Is Horrible’: Classmate Says Nashville Shooter Seemed ‘Normal,’ ‘Talented’)

CNN edited an article after publication Monday to remove the word “woman,” but the updated article made no mention of the shooter’s transgender identity.

The New York Times corrected the record on Twitter after publishing an article soon after the shooting illustrating how rare mass shootings by females were.

“There was confusion later on Monday about the gender identity of the assailant in the Nashville shooting. Officials had used ‘she’ and ‘her’ to refer to the suspect, who, according to a social media post and a LinkedIn profile, appeared to identify as a man in recent months,” the NYT wrote on Twitter.

USA Today made a similar post on Twitter after identifying the shooter as a woman.

“Police on Monday afternoon said that the shooter was a transgender man,” the outlet wrote. “Officials had initially misidentified the gender of the shooter.”

Outlets that typically use transgender people’s preferred pronouns are now avoiding pronoun use altogether to refer to Hale.

The Washington Post avoided using either male of female pronouns to refer to Hale in a Monday evening story, and instead used the shooter’s last name throughout the story.

A Monday morning newsletter from Axios similarly avoided using pronouns and instead used Hale’s last name or “the shooter.”

“USA Today follows AP guidelines regarding the use of pronouns and referenced GLAAD guidelines in this instance when we updated our stories following the misidentification by the Nashville police department,” a USA Today spokesman told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Axios, the NYT and The Washington Post did not immediately respond to the DNCF’s request for comment.

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