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Major media style guide tells press to avoid terms like ‘biological sex,’ defends gender surgery for minors

The latest media style guidance from the Associated Press instructed journalists in their reporting to respect LGBTQ subjects’ preferred pronouns, advised them to avoid terms like “biological sex,” and provided a mini lesson arguing for the existence of transgender medical procedures for minors. 

The guide also insisted that reporters only quote qualified experts when providing statements on biology or “athletic regulations” regarding trans people in sports and urged them to avoid using phrases like “both sexes,” as people identity with more than two.

It also instructed reporters not to write that a trans individual was born a boy or girl but to refer to their “sex assigned at birth.”


A photo of the AP logo

The AP Style Guide recently updated its guidance on covering transgender and nonbinary issues. (Associated Press/Getty Images)

The AP Style Guide, or as it refers to itself, “The journalist’s bible,” put out a new update to its “Transgender Coverage Topical Guide” so that reporters can provide the most sensitive coverage of LGTBQ and trans issues.

AP Style Guide subscribers received an email this week containing the new guidance which gave them very specific language to use in talking about sex and gender. Most major media outlets subscribe to AP style, so they are expected to implement these pointers, which include instructions to avoid referring to biological sex and tips for how to reference someone’s preferred pronouns.

The guide began with some general advice, stating, “Gender terminology is vast and constantly evolving; a style guide can’t cover everything. Let your sources guide you on how they want to be identified, and then use your judgment to be both sensitive and accurate.”

The first specific tip provided guidance on quoting people about trans issues, and trans issues in the world of competitive sports. According to the guide, you should only quote the experts, and avoid ordinary people with less credentialed opinions. 

It stated, “Avoid false balance — giving a platform to unqualified claims or sources in the guise of balancing a story by including all views. For instance, don’t quote people speaking about biology or athletic regulations unless they have the proper background.” 

It then claimed that reporters should never be using the phrase both sexes, or both genders, “Since not all people fall under one of two categories for sex or gender — as in the cases of nonbinary and intersex people.”


Pride Progress flag

The updated AP Style Guide advised journalists on how to refer to LGBTQ peoples’ preferred pronouns and trans issues in competitive sports. (Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)

The guide continued, listing terms and phrases that should be outdated and replaced with more trans-inclusive ones. For example, AP Style Guide frowned upon noting if someone was born a boy or born a girl: “Use the term sex assigned at birth instead of biological sex, birth gender, was identified at birth as, born a girl and the like.”

The guide added, “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.”

Of course, the term “groomer” is to be avoided, as some people use it “to stoke fears about LGBTQ+ people’s interactions with children, or education about LGBTQ+ people, comparing their actions to those of child molesters,” the guide said. 

The style guide also devoted an entire section of the update to a defense of “gender transitions and gender-affirming care.” It claimed, “Transgender medical treatment for youths is increasingly under attack in many states and has been subject to restrictions or outright bans. But it has been available in the United States for more than a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations.”

The guide then stated, “If the gender dysphoria persists and they meet other criteria, teens can begin hormone treatments that prompt sexual development, including changes in appearance. 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.”


In terms of how to use a trans or nonbinary person’s pronouns, the guide offered this advice: “Don’t refer in interviews or stories to preferred or chosen pronouns. Instead, the pronouns they use, whose pronouns are, who uses the pronouns, etc.”

The AP entry then ended with a glossary of LGBTQ-related terms including “gender-identity,” “genderqueer,” “intersex,” and “nonbinary;” along with tips on how to best refer to them in reporting.

Fox News Digital reached out to the Associated Press for comment. This story will be updated with any response. 

Trans Day of Visibility march

The AP Style guide also noted how leading doctors claim that some minors are clear to undergo transgender medical procedures. ((Photo by Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images))

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