“There is absolutely zero reason to use her deadname.”
NBC News reporter Ken Dilanian referred to former army intelligence veteran Chelsea Manning as “he” and “him” during a Thursday news segment about the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Speaking with host Hallie Jackson, Dilanian detailed the story behind Manning’s leaking of classified information to Assange while still in the Army. Assange, who was arrested in London today and is facing extradition to the United States, is charged with conspiring with Manning to hack computers containing classified information.
WATCH: Bill Maher Calls MAGA Teen a ‘Little Pr***‘ Then Mocks Boys Abused by Priests
“Assange is not charged with receiving classified information, or anything to do with the leak,” Dilanian explained. “He’s charged with conspiring with Chelsea Manning to hack a Defense Department computer.”
Manning, who at the time was known by the first name Bradley, leaked the documents to Assange before undergoing a male-to-female transition.
“Specifically, Chelsea Manning was an army private stationed in Iraq, he was downloading hundreds of thousands of top secret U.S. government files from the military and from the State Department, and he was sending them to Assange and Wikileaks to make public,” Dilanian said, twice referring to Manning as “he.”
“As part of those communications, the U.S. Government alleged Manning asked Assange to help him crack a DoD password,” Dilanian continued, referring to Manning as “him.”
Many social media commenters were outraged, voicing their frustration with Dilanian after the segment.
“That’s not ok,” said Media Matters LGBTQ program director Brennan Suen, of Dilanian misgendering Manning.
Another accused the journalist of being “transphobic.”
“There is absolutely zero reason to use her deadname,” Evan Greer, a self-proclaimed “queer activist” tweeted. According to Healthline, deadnaming “occurs when someone, intentionally or not, refers to a person who’s transgender by the name they used before they transitioned.”
Reminder for journalists today: everyone knows who Chelsea Manning is. She's trending on twitter. There is absolutely zero reason to use her deadname other than that you don't respect trans people
— Evan Greer (@evan_greer) April 11, 2019
The Human Rights Campaign, which touts itself as “the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization in the United States,” has said that journalists should “respect transgender people by using the names and pronouns they use in daily life.”
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s (GLAAD) media guide strikes a similar tone.
“Ideally a story will not use pronouns associated with a person’s birth sex when referring to the person’s life prior to transition,” the guide says. “Try to write transgender people’s stories from the present day, instead of narrating them from some point in the past, thus avoiding confusion and potentially disrespectful use of incorrect pronouns.”
Assange was arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London Thursday as the result of an extradition warrant filed by U.S. authorities.
American officials have been building a case against Assange for years, largely on evidence used in the prosecution of Manning. Ahead of Assange’s arrest, Manning was jailed for refusing to cooperate further in the case against Assange.
With Manning back in the news, the act of “misgendering” has been thrust into the spotlight once again.
Changing societal norms around language, particularly regarding the use of trans individuals’ preferred pronouns, has become a major aim for transgender activists. Misgendering is now widely considered taboo, and can incur punishment in certain contexts. Twitter last year made the practice grounds for banning, and in the United Kingdom, offenders have faced legal action.
Critics have argued that transgender activists’ efforts are leading to the denial of biological sex in ways that threaten social institutions and put women and children at risk.
WATCH: Jordan Peterson’s Epic Smack Down of a Reporter