Stop misgendering Masha Gessen

Journalist and New Yorker staffer Masha Gessen is being penalized for comparing the plight of native Palestinians in Gaza to survivors of the Holocaust in a recent essay for the magazine. In a reactionary move, the Heinrich Böll Foundation has decided to cancel their ceremony to present Gessen with their much-deserved Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought due to what the foundation views as a controversial comparison, despite Gessen’s distinguished standing as an award-winning Jewish writer with a deeply researched understanding of the unfolding Gaza genocide. While Gessen will still receive the award on a future date, the Heinrich Böll Foundation will not be participating in the event.

To add insult to injury, multiple outlets refuse to honor Gessen’s pronouns while reporting on the story. Since 2020, Gessen—who often reports on queer and transgender issues for the New Yorker—has publically used they/them pronouns.

Yet sites like Haaretz and The Guardian (who awkwardly described Gessen as “using they”) have continued to refer to Gessen using incorrect pronouns. While some outlets have changed their reporting to correct this mistake, it shouldn’t take Gessen pointing out the inaccuracy and restating their pronouns for large publications to get it right.

As established mid-career figures in the industry continue to come out as trans and nonbinary, it remains fascinating to see the disrespect with which outlets continue to misgender them in the name of journalistic neutrality or “proper grammar.” Much like the hypocrisy with which the mainstream left continues to offer a “both sides” take on the Gaza genocide.

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