To writers and editors, a style-sheet sets the rules. All the major publishing houses and newspapers have their own, and these style-sheets offer absolute truths about whether to capitalise the west country, or use italics for HMS Dreadnought. None of them offer advice about the pronouns to use when writing about transsexual friends, or transgendered heros and villains.
Last week, thanks partly to the efforts of Being Drusilla, the Guardian newspaper amended its pronouns in the online report of Mikki Nicholson’s win in the British Scrabble Championship. And this week, in an engaging mea culpa, the readers’ editor Chris Elliott conceded that the Guardian style guide ‘currently has no entry for transgendered people.’
The Guardian has begun to put that right. Following guidance offered on the Trans Media Watch website, Chris suggests writers find out how a person wishes their gender to be defined. Then chooses pronouns accordingly. This, it seems to me, is solid advice. The bull withdraws from the china shop.