Bonkers new AP style guide instructs journos to respect preferred pronouns, avoid terms like ‘biological sex’

The AP Style Guide has long been required reading for reporters — so much so that the Associated Press refers to it as “The journalist’s bible” — but recent changes to its “Transgender Coverage Topical Guide” are raising eyebrows.

According to the new guidance, the many media outlets — including the big ones — who religiously adhere to AP Style recommendations should refrain from using such references “to both, either or opposite sexes or genders,” nix the phrase “biological sex,” and “generally avoid the often false terms groom or groomer, which some people use to stoke fears about LGBTQ+ people’s interactions with children.”

“Journalists on all beats must be able to write about and interview transgender people using accurate, sensitive, unbiased language,” AP states, adding, “Gender terminology is vast and constantly evolving.”

“[A] style guide can’t cover everything,” the guide acknowledges. “Let your sources guide you on how they want to be identified, and then use your judgment to be both sensitive and accurate.”

To that end, journalists should, “Avoid false balance — giving a platform to unqualified claims or sources in the guise of balancing a story by including all views.”

Take, for example, the raging war over allowing biological men to compete in women’s sports.

“[D]on’t quote people speaking about biology or athletic regulations unless they have the proper background,” AP instructs. “If you do need to use the quotes, fact-check them within the story. Ensure that organizations offering data or other factual information in a story are using sound methodology grounded in valid science.”

When it comes to discussing “gender,” the AP cites The Science:

Gender refers to internal and social identity and often corresponds with but is not synonymous with sex. Experts from organizations including the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association say gender is a spectrum, not a binary structure consisting of only males and females.

Sex refers to biological characteristics, such as chromosomes, hormones and reproductive anatomy.

Since not all people fall under one of two categories for sex or gender — as in the cases of nonbinary and intersex people — avoid references to both, either or opposite sexes or genders.


The thoughtful guide provides a “granular list” of trans terminology and a series of “red flags.”

For example:

Some nonbinary people consider themselves transgender because while they may not identify as strictly male or female, their identity does not correspond to their assigned sex.

Use the term sex assigned at birth instead of biological sex, birth gender, was identified at birth as, born a girl and the like.


Don’t bother using the word “identifies” when discussing a dude who thinks he’s a chick, because “often phrasing like is a woman is more to the point than identifies as a woman.”

And forget about the word “biological”:

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. They are also redundant because sex is inherently biological.


When it comes to covering the woke’s blatant sexualization of children, AP has some thoughts:

Generally avoid the often false terms groom or groomer, which some people use to stoke fears about LGBTQ+ people’s interactions with children, or education about LGBTQ+ people, comparing their actions to those of child molesters.

If necessary to directly quote someone using the term, add that context. For example: “He is a groomer, pure and simple,” Smith said, using a term that falsely links LGBTQ+ people’s interactions with children to the actions of child molesters. (If child abuse actually is what is being alleged or proven, include those details.)


The style guide — which used to tackle such burning topics as whether to put the name of a ship in italics and what the hell to do with a semicolon — then launches into a lecture about the rigorous requirements and long history of “gender-affirming care” in America.

“Transgender medical treatment for youths is increasingly under attack in many states and has been subject to restrictions or outright bans,” AP tells journalists. “But it has been available in the United States for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations.”

Yes, AP admits, “Guidelines from leading authorities on gender-affirming medical care say surgery generally should be reserved for adults, with exceptions for older teens who meet certain criteria” and “All these treatments have potential side effects, and doctors are encouraged to discuss them with patients,” but it also claims “puberty blockers” are “fully reversible” and “teens can begin hormone treatments that prompt sexual development, including changes in appearance.”

Either way, writers should “avoid the word mutilation, a politicized and subjective term often used to mischaracterize surgery.”

Also, “Do not equate a gender transition with becoming a man, becoming a woman or the outdated terminology sex change.”

Respect personal pronouns and, whatever you do, don’t deadname people.

“Deadnaming a transgender person, even posthumously in obituaries or other coverage, is often considered disrespectful to the deceased, their survivors and any transgender people,” the guide explains. “In the AP, use of a transgender person’s previous name must be approved by managers.”

And it goes on and on.

“Gender identity” is defined as “A person’s sense of feeling male, female, neither or some combination of both. Often just gender will suffice.”

Pregnant women or women seeking abortions is acceptable phrasing,” AP states. “Phrasing like pregnant people or people seeking abortions is increasingly used in medical contexts and is also acceptable to include people who have those experiences but do not identify as women, such as some transgender men and some nonbinary people.”

“Use judgment and decide what is most appropriate in a given story,” AP advises. “Neutral alternatives like abortion patients are also acceptable, but do not use overly clinical language like people with uteruses or birthing people.”

And the word “sex” refers to “biological and physiological characteristics, including but not limited to chromosomes, hormones and reproductive organs.”

“A person’s sex is usually assigned at birth by parents or attendants, sometimes inaccurately,” AP states. “Sex often corresponds with but is not synonymous with gender, which is a social construct.”



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