May 29, 2019

"All people deserve to be treated with dignity. If someone identifies as non-binary, I will respect that choice. I cannot, however..."

"... happily countenance the willful disregard of grammar required to refer to a single person by a plural pronoun. Why not use, 'one,' or, 'it,' or simply the proper name of the person in question?... There seems to be a fundamental contradiction between advocates for non-binary, who argue that gender roles are a socially-imposed order that needs to be, 'destroyed,' and advocates for the trans community, who argue that gender identity is innate and that trans people should be acknowledged as full members of categories into which they do not biologically fit. Can this divide please please get resolved before the other 99% of us are called insensitive for not understanding how to proceed and we start changing laws to reflect the new convention?"

That's the second-most-liked comment on "Which Box Do You Check? Some States Are Offering a Nonbinary Option/As nonbinary teenagers push for driver’s licenses that reflect their identity, a fraught debate over the nature of gender has arrived in the nation’s statehouses" (NYT), which begins with the grammar issue:

Ever since El Martinez started asking to be called by the gender-neutral pronouns "they/them" in the ninth grade, they have fielded skepticism in a variety of forms and from a multitude of sources about what it means to identify as nonbinary.

There are faculty advisers on El’s theater crew who balk at using “they” for one person; classmates at El’s public school on the outskirts of Boston who insist El can’t be “multiple people”; and commenters on El’s social media feeds who dismiss nonbinary gender identities like androgyne (a combination of masculine and feminine), agender (the absence of gender) and gender-fluid (moving between genders) as lacking a basis in biology.
The first-most-liked comment is: "We absolutely should adopt the views of teenagers. Who knows more about life than they?"

ADDED: The NYT article has this:
Over the last few months, lawmakers have sought — not always successfully — to use the singular “they” when introducing nonbinary constituents who have appeared to testify. The elected officials have listened to tutorials on the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity (the former is who you go to bed with, the latter is who you go to bed as); to pleas for compassion from parents who have learned to refer to their children as “my kid” rather than “son” or “daughter”; and to why being called by binary pronouns feels, as Kayden Reff (they/them), 15, of Bethesda, Md., put it in testimony read by their mother, “as though ice is being poured down my back.”
A commenter at the NYT says:
I will gladly refer to persons who consider themselves non-binary or gender-fluid by their names rather than the binary pronouns they find offensive. I am not however, willing to forgo a lifetime practice of speaking and writing with proper grammar. Reading all the gratuitous they/theirs, he/his's etc. in this article was like having ice poured down MY back.

89 comments:

Dave Begley said...

Could things get any crazier?

Don't answer that question.

Ken B said...

Now do French.

Amadeus 48 said...

"Can this divide please please get resolved before the other 99% of us are called insensitive for not understanding how to proceed and we start changing laws to reflect the new convention?"

1. No, you hater.
2. What new convention?

Curious George said...

"Can this divide please please get resolved before the other 99% of us are called insensitive for not understanding how to proceed and we start changing laws to reflect the new convention?"

I'll offer "freak."

Rumpletweezer said...

Dave Begley,

I used to ask myself "How stupid can things get?" I don't anymore.

RK said...

To be helpful, some people on campus are including preferred pronouns in their email signatures. They're mostly the ones who have time for diversity & inclusivity meetings.

RK said...

"All people deserved to be treated with dignity"

Except Trump or anyone who voted for him.

Bay Area Guy said...

The other day one of my teenage sons asked whether I thought our country was headed down a path towards civil war. I said, "Probably not. There's a lotta messy chatter on twitter, but nothing more."

He said, good. A civil war would not go well. One side is well-armed, loves football, NASCAR, and hunting; the other side has trouble figuring out what bathroom to use.

Bay Area Guy said...

If you can't figure out if you are a man or woman, you probably have bigger issues in your life.

Just sayin'

wholelottasplainin' said...

Does anyone out there remember Sigmund Freud?

You know, the guy who wrote about neuroses? Who ruled the roost for about fifty years?

Who also distinguished neuroses from "garden variety human unhappiness", which he said was the goal of psychotherapy?

Gone with the wind, replaced by the "Whatev" Theory. And a demand that society accommodate your delusions.

Freud's theories were justly criticized for being unscientific. Yet "transgenderism" is treated as a FACT.

FUBAR.



buwaya said...

As a native speaker of a non-Indoeuropean, ungendered language, I can offer a few tips.
There are perfectly normal ungendered pronouns that can be borrowed from perfectly respectable ungendered languages.
I volunteer the Tagalog “siya”, which should be at the top of the list in any case as it’s probably the most widely spoken ungendered language in the US. You are welcome.

The other thing to note about these languages is that they have absolutely no gender-equalizing effect on the societies that speak them.

Lucid-Ideas said...

It's very simple

XX = She
XY = He

True 'intersexed' people, representing approx. .001 of the human population, should be allowed by society to choose at their leisure and have it respected. They are the only ones.

I intensely dislike that the media and writers galore have jumped on a bandwagon to honor calling a male 'she'. I will never do this.

1000 years from now, someone will dig up a trans grave and categorize the bones as 'male'. I think we're done here.

gahrie said...

Is any of this bullshit being inflicted on languages other than English?

Take Spanish..why does nobody attack Spanish as a patriarchal language?

Spanish for mother - madre
Spanish for father - padre
Spanish for parent - padre

robother said...

"We?" The royal "we," man.

mikeski said...

“[...]and to why being called by binary pronouns feels, as Kayden Reff (they/them), 15, of Bethesda, Md., put it in testimony read by their mother, “as though ice is being poured down my back.”

Shouldn’t that be “our back”? For consistency, and dignity, and stuff.

jimbino said...

Proper grammar is sometimes essential in avoiding serious bodily injury, as when the doc says, "When the couple bring in their kid, give them their circumcision right away."

Pianoman said...

Jordan Peterson could not be reached for comment.

NotWhoIUsedtoBe said...

The problem isn't people asking to be called a different name.

The problem is using the laws of the state to compel us all to do so.

Ambrose said...

We are comfortable with "you" as a second person singular and plural. It is not really such a big step for the ever evolving, usage driven, language that is English for "they" to be accepted as third person singular. With that change, first, second and third person pronouns will be uniformly gender-neutral.

Amadeus 48 said...

"If you can't figure out if you are a man or woman, you probably have bigger issues in your life."

That's the problem. They have it all figured out, but the equipment doesn't match the conclusion. The bigger issue is why.

Personally I don't care. But if I were an world-class XX athlete, I'd care a lot.

traditionalguy said...

Refusing to play by new set of fascist rules of mandatory speech so as not to offend our new disabled masters is totally an unalienable right of Americans, especially those Americans who have an unalienable right to bear arms.

stever said...

I am certain that there are only two genders absent the circumstances of chromosomal issues such as Triple X, which is rare. Everything else is working from the answer backwards. I blame social media, that is no way to get things to work out. Victims get over yourselves.

Pianoman said...

Seems to me that this whole issue is going to come to a head at the Olympics. The Powers-That-Be have two choices:

1) Allow trans men to compete as women, thereby shattering the record books;
2) Require that athletes compete according to their biological sex.

I think it's inevitable they will select the latter. The question is whether it will happen before the 2020 games.

stevew said...

I'm so old that this whole dialogue and discussion sounds like complete and utter nonsense to me. And so very First World Problem like.

In other news, a transgender athlete from Franklin Pierce has won the NCAA championship in a female track competition. No word in the article I read as to whether said transgender athlete prefers she or they, nor any mention of whether this is a gender identity choice or whether there has been surgeries to memorialize the choice.

n.n said...

Binary sex "=" transgender spectrum ("rainbow").

gilbar said...

Take Spanish..why does nobody attack Spanish as a patriarchal language?

I thought about this, back in the olden days; when the HUGE problems were
A) referring to female professionals with a gendered title (like Actress, instead of Actor)
B) EVER using the pronoun 'HE' to refer to a generic person
(like, When an Actor wants a part HE, needs to make it to the Casting Call)

I thought at the time (since i was taking college Spanish class), that in Spanish, you would NOT be bothered by
A), because ALL nouns were gendered (ending in 'o' or 'a')
and
B) would NEVER be a problem, on account of because if a group has any males in it, it is masculine

This seemed (to me, the ugly american,) to be The ONLY GOOD THING IN SPANISH (well, that and the Library Sciences girl that sat in front of me in class)

madAsHell said...

What happened to all the gun control outrage generated by the STEM High School shooting?

Trans-gendered away!!

Paul From Minneapolis said...

From the Times:

"Ever since El Martinez started asking to be called by the gender-neutral pronouns 'they/them' in the ninth grade, they have fielded skepticism in a variety of forms and from a multitude of sources..."

I'm honestly not clear who the they is that's fielding skepticism.

richlb said...

Ambrose said - "We are comfortable with "you" as a second person singular and plural."

Not all of us are. I'm more of a "y'all" type of speaker for second person plural.

gilbar said...

Ambrose said...
We are comfortable with "you" as a second person singular and plural.


Y'all aren't particularly familiar with American English; are Y'all?

Leland said...

I agree with the others regarding the Latin based languages.

I grew up learning the phrase "ain't ain't a word so I'm not going to use it." This was a crack at southerners who contacted "am not" to "ain't", which at the time was not considered proper grammar. Now the intellectual progressive make up new words all the time. Well, I ain't going to use their words either.

gilbar said...

grrr!! it's NOT FAIR that you type faster than i do richlb :(
y'all got typing classes down there; i'll bet!

Basil Duke said...

stevew, I read an article on the Franklin Pierce idiocy, and a survey was offered at the end of it. Readers were asked if they approved of biological males competing as women, disapproved of biological males competing as women or weren't sure. 94 percent of respondents (1,350 readers had participated in the survey at the time) said they disapproved. Is a cultural correction on the way? Damn, I would hope so.

Rory said...

"Take Spanish..why does nobody attack Spanish as a patriarchal language?"

Every Spanish- (and French and Arabic) speaking country has a more or less official language institue that tells correct usage. So they deal with these things bureaucratically, instead of via open debate.

RobinGoodfellow said...

Dave Begley said...
Could things get any crazier?

Don't answer that question.


Before you know it someone will come along and say, “Hold my hal-caf soy latte.”

alanc709 said...

There should be three gender choices for driver's licenses: Male, Female and Mentally Unstable

RobinGoodfellow said...

Blogger gilbar said...
Take Spanish..why does nobody attack Spanish as a patriarchal language?

I thought about this, back in the olden days; when the HUGE problems were
A) referring to female professionals with a gendered title (like Actress, instead of Actor)


Did you ever notice how some people insist on “actor” instead of “actress”, but get bent out of shape if you refer to a female as “chairman” instead of “chairwoman”?

What’s up with that?

Lyssa said...

I llove advice columns on just about any topic, but there seems to have been a memo in the last year or so that everyone should call any person described in the question by “them” rather then she or he. It’s incredibly confusing. Frequently, I find myself reading about a problem the writer is having with a significant other, and thinking “ You’re screwing this person; you should know whether it’s a male or female!”

gilbar said...

Is it REALLY too much to ask that
IF a boy Really Wants to be a girl; that he cut his dick off?
But, the NCAA doesn't require this; The NCAA allows transgender women to compete on women’s teams as long as the athlete has been on testosterone suppressing hormone therapy for a minimum of one year prior to competing on women’s teams.

suppression therapy? like canabis? asking for a friend

Caligula said...

The statement is scandalous. Doesn't this fool know that the meaning of "he" and "she" (and other pronouns, including possessives) has been redefined?

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

madAsHell said...

The other thing to note about these languages is that they have absolutely no gender-equalizing effect on the societies that speak them.

How do say "Honey, can you open the pickle jar!" in Tagalog?

No matter how you distort the English language, you will still see roles being allocated, and accepted along the lines of gender*. My penis makes my hands larger, therefore it's easier for me to open the pickle jar.

Don't homosexual relationships also exhibit a top, and a bottom?.......Asking for a friend!!

*Gender according to equipment inspection

tim maguire said...

I've tried reading excerpts using the singular "they/them." It's really disorienting and difficult to follow what is happening to whom.

As with so much PC, the first casualty is clarity of meaning.

tim maguire said...

Does anyone outside the American academy use "Latinx"? Do any Latins use it?

Chris-2-4 said...

Ambrose said:

"We are comfortable with "you" as a second person singular and plural."

Except, we are clearly NOT comfortable with using it in the plural, thus the ubiquity of "y'all", "You guys", "Yins" "Yuns" and who knows what else.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

name your kid "Xerxes"

Fernandinande said...

All people deserve to be treated with dignity.

False!

nonbinary teenagers

Mostly False! You got your XXs and your XYs and maybe .05% "something else".

reflect their identity

Like a photograph or fingerprints?

Apparently it's important to teenagers that mundane government bureaucracies approve of their silly "identities".

Sad.

Fernandinande said...

Does anyone outside the American academy use "Latinx"?

Unfortunately, yes.

I picked up a wretched, dishonest, racist magazine called "Parents Latina" ("Pick the right pet for your FAMILIA" - a dog that speak Spanish, I guess) from a hosopportunitespital waiting room.

Cover story "How to raise a good citizen" - "'The best age to start kids marching [for equal rights] is about 8, when they tend to more emotionally aware', says Ms. Spanish-sounding Name. Tell your daughter "We're marching because we believe that girls should have the same rights and opportunities as boys." The fact they already do seems to be irrelevant.

Anyway, I saw "latinx" in that rag mag but I'm not going to look for it.

Rick.T. said...

While we are on the subject, who decided that I should be labeled both "straight" and "cisgendered?" I don't remember voting on that.

bagoh20 said...

Isn't it kind of strange to place grammer above science? Grammar is a subjective convention outside of facts. Science, which clearly shows the overwhelming binary nature of animals is based in facts rather than convention. Grammar is the social construct, not gender.

Pianoman said...

Spanish is a "binary" language.

"Libro" is a male noun that means "Book".

What about those 0.001% of books that are Intersex? It's UNFAIR!!

CHANGE ALL THE LANGUAGES!!!

Pianoman said...

Did a little digging, and found there are over 7000 spoken and written languages in the world today. And the estimate is that a quarter of them use gendered nouns.

Obviously, there's a lot of Hate out there. It's the new Civil Rights battle!

MAKE ALL LANGUAGES GENDERLESS! FOR THE CHILDREN!

Sebastian said...

"I cannot, however, happily countenance the willful disregard of grammar required to refer to a single person by a plural pronoun"

Well, comrade, whether you do it happily is beside the point, but countenance you will. It's just the new front in the prog culture war. They mean to devastate the culture, grammar and all. They mean to control the deplorable sticklers for grammatical correctness.

Lawrence Person said...

There are two sexes, males and female, determined at the genetic level before birth. You either have XX or XY chromosomes, save an amazingly small number of genetic freaks.

Everything is is sophistry.

Fernandinande said...

hosopportunitespital

WFT? "hospital"

Rosalyn C. said...

Thanks to the women's liberation movement gender roles have been blurred, discrimination based on sex is banned. You are free to pursue your interests based on personal preference and talents, not your biological sex or stereotypes of gender roles. -- I've thought that was a good thing.

Now we are seeing the movement of gender ideologues and some transgenders who, imo, are hung up over the stereotypes associated with male or female. For them accepting physical biological sex in a neutral way is impossible. Healthier people however are able to be comfortable within their body's biological sex, regardless if their interests align with stereotypical gender roles or not.

I find it ironic that lesbians and gays, people who fully accept their biological sex and reject gender stereotypes, are advocates for transgenders who are unable to release outmoded gender stereotypes and reject their biological sex.

Fen said...

If they can compel you to deny reality, they control your reality.


There are four lights not five.

"The torture scene in this episode is nearly verbatim from Nineteen Eighty-Four's "2+2=5". In the novel, the slogan is a primary example of doublethink, the ability of the totalitarian ruling party to exert such control they can even make people admit obvious falsehoods. Sensory evidence - or in the case of the novel, analytic truth - is internalized as insanity, and external statements are internalized as true, even when the subject isn't actually insane. The captors are showing their strength not just by forcing the captive, but by forcing reality itself."

Pianoman said...

@RJ Chatt: I find it ironic that lesbians and gays, people who fully accept their biological sex and reject gender stereotypes, are advocates for transgenders who are unable to release outmoded gender stereotypes and reject their biological sex.

It's interesting how the people who want to criminalize efforts to stop doctors from stopping homosexual behavior through therapy are the same people who think it's just dandy when a surgeon performs a hysterectomy and double mastectomy on a perfectly healthy female 18-year old.

Anonymous said...

The miserably unhappy children (of all ages) keep "testing their limits", and the shitty indulgent parents (alleged authorities) keep refusing to enforce limits. Whether out of laziness, cowardice, or well-meaning adherence to the dicta of "experts", one cannot say.

(If the miserable spoiled children would just put the shitty adults in the cornfield, I wouldn't mind.)

gilbar said...

the same people who think it's just dandy when a surgeon performs a hysterectomy and double mastectomy on a perfectly healthy female 18-year old.

remember the olden days?
when They Said, that boys could play with dolls; and girls could play with trucks?
If you have a 7 year old 'boy' now, and he wants to play with dolls: Cut off his DICK!
If you have a 7 year old 'girl' now, and she wants to play with trucks: Cut up her Vagina!
Gender Roles are innate; if boys don't play with dolls.... Anymore

gilbar said...

hell! Remember back when people thought there was the concept of 'tomboys'?

Rosalyn C. said...

@Pianoman: The medical establishment has overwhelming condemned conversion therapy for homosexuals because it is ineffective and potentially causes mental damage, such as anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies. The only people promoting conversion therapy are religiously based, not doctors.

MadisonMan said...

They has been used for a long time to denote a singular, unknown.

"Someone knocked on my door and then they ran away"

I don't have a problem with using they to denote a single person at all. It does take getting used to.

n.n said...

The correlation between sex and gender, not social "roles", is merely a social construct? How very pro-choice.

n.n said...

They should probably stop the progress of indoctrinating and corrupting prepubescent and adolescent children into the transgender spectrum. At least until they can reach a consensus on what is life, consciousness, sex, gender, the universe, and everything.

wwww said...

"Someone knocked on my door and then they ran away"

Yeah but technically it is a error. Should read: "Someone knocked on my door and then he ran away. Or she ran away. or he/she ran away." I wish some grammar maven would choose some term to denote a third person, gender unknown, and resolve the grammar issue.

Ken B said...

Madison Man
Try writing a paragraph relating a singular “they” to a plural “they”. Read for instance a paragraph about Trump and his critics using they/them for all pronouns. It turns to mud almost immediately. People are not objecting to pandering to a desire, but to the erosion of clarity and concision.

Ken B said...

Wwww
It isn’t about the sex of the person, but the gender of the referent. In German sometime persons are referred to with a neuter pronoun. This is very very common in German. In English the sex and the gender almost always align, but this is just not so in every language. (It is not quite true in English, where babies and corpses are sometimes referred to as it, but pretty close.)

MadisonMan said...

Try writing a paragraph relating a singular “they” to a plural “they”.

Oh, I agree it leads to very confusing writing! Especially as you note if you're talking about multiple people, and then using 'they' to refer to a singular. It's a challenge! This is when I start avoiding pronouns completely.

PM said...

"They" might even be stupider than Toronto's "We the North".

Yancey Ward said...

"Sir, are you classified as human?"

"No, I am a meat popsicle."

Pianoman said...

@RJ Chatt: The medical establishment has overwhelming condemned conversion therapy for homosexuals because it is ineffective and potentially causes mental damage, such as anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies.

So do "sex change" operations. Suicide rates are higher for those who have had surgery. It's not stopping the trans-surgery industry from pushing mutilations.

It's just funny that on the one hand, states like California want to imprison doctors for offering psychological advice, but they also want to imprison parents who don't want their children to be mutilated.

Rosalyn C. said...

@Pianoman Agreed.

DavidUW said...

It’s too bad the tranny industry insists on overreaching. Kind of like the gays.
I think most everyone wouldn’t care if:
1) they didn’t force their “tolerance” on kids
2) there was a general ban on permanent treatments, i.e. surgery and hormones for kids.
3) men pretending to be women would be banned from competing in sports as women. Even with surgery and hormones, a garden variety male high school athlete becomes a world class “female” athlete. Heck, guys who barely make state for high school boys’ track would be world-beaters in the Olympics as “women.”
4) I’ll call you a new name, I might even refer to you with pronouns reflecting your desired, if not biological sex, but I won’t call a singular person “they/them”. That’s atrocious.

rhhardin said...

Your dignity comes from how you treat others, not how others treat you.

Fernandinande said...

gilbar said...
Cut off his DICK!


My Mom used to yell that all the time but she was referring to my Dad so it didn't affect me at all in any way.

PatHMV said...

A question nobody seems to be asking:

Why does the state care and keep a record of our gender? Why is it so important for every identification document and form to have you check "M" or "F"? We (very thankfully) no longer base legal rights and obligations on a person's gender. We allow any two adults to marry now, as a matter of constitutional right. So for what legitimate purpose does the state care? Instead of adding a "non-binary" or other option to check, why not remove the "gender" box entirely from drivers' license, birth certificate, you name it.

John henry said...

In 1984 for Winston to just accepting that 2+2=5 was not enough.

The torture, rats in a face cage, would not stop until Winston truly believed tha 2+2=5 and knew in his heart that he had always believed it.

John Henry

Unknown said...

A driver's license is needed for law enforcement--are you who you say you are? "nonbinary" option is confusing for this purpose. Your sex is relevant to hospital admissions and jail. Not irrelevant. Reminds me of the problem when a criminal suspect is being searched for and they refuse to say his race--makes it hard to know who to look for. If we now don't even know the sex of the person to be on the lookout for, we all will need to be psychic.


RichAndSceptical said...

Until they prove that trans is genetic, biological, social, psychological, or choice, I'm not interested.

todd galle said...

Let's go back to the early Quakers and Puritans and just use thee's and thou's. Problem solved.

Krumhorn said...

Of course, it's absurd to permit a person's peculiarities to govern how the rest of us refer to that person. Particularly, when the prescribed references break with our instinctive use of the language.

However, I have been surprised while watching Billions, a truly outstanding television series, how easily the they/them/their formulation seems to fall into place when the characters are speaking of Taylor. Even more surprising has been the impact on me, as a surly and truculent viewer of this nonsense, that since Taylor is such an interesting and admirable character, I accept that they are entitled to the respect of referring to them in accordance with their wishes.

How's that for a kick in the pants??

- Krumhorn

DimWhit said...

"Someone knocked on my door and then they ran away"
Yeah, but the perpetrator is unknown. But when the perp is standing in front of you?

The problem with 'it' is it seems inhuman. We are used--forever--to there being human females
and males. Not non-gendered 'it's, which are some other kind of thing. 'They' sounds much
less inhuman, I guess. Personally, I think 'it' is fine....

Warren Fahy said...

It's as if schools are now the Lord of the Flies with the only adults playing the part of the silent pig's head watching passively as the madness escalates.

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JeanE said...

Krumhorn,

I haven't seen the show you mention, but I have experience of hearing my son refer to a friend who prefers the pronoun "they, them" and even after months I still found it confusing. As he relates a story involving his friend, I find myself thinking the conversation involves a group of people when the events described involve just one person. Perhaps it is age- my kids have a much easier time with the language change than I do, but I have several extra decades of using pronouns the "old-fashioned" way.

I simply tend to avoid pronouns other than "you" when referring to a transgendered individual and structure my sentences to use proper names. It is sometimes awkward, but it maintains my intellectual integrity and avoids unnecessarily offending someone.

Nichevo said...

5/29/19, 4:01 PM
R.J. Chatt said...
@Pianoman Agreed.

5/29/19, 4:09 PM

Good. But the failings of conversion therapy merely indicate that it has to be improved upon, not abandoned. We don't stop treating syphilis because mercury is poisonous.

Nihimon said...

If someone tries to control people's speech through pedantry, they're going to have a bad time.

MB said...

This is how gender studies departments justify their existence. Who cares if you get quantum mechanics wrong? But you could get fired or worse if you misgender someone.
This is subtle and important stuff, supposedly, more important in our society than rocket science or brain surgery. Everyone needs mandatory training in it, since it's a matter of life and death. It's also glamorous at the same time: Hollywood is all over it and there's no math involved.
You just need a guide, to tell you the appropriate point of view and degree of sensitivity. After you acquire the appropriate vocabulary, you too can use it to bully your elder relatives.
There! Aren't you feeling smarter now?