Should people be required to use someone's 'preferred pronouns'?


Fact Box

  • ‘Preferred gender pronoun’ (abbreviated PGP) is defined as “the gendered, gender-neutral, or gender-inclusive pronoun that a person wants others to use when referring to that individual.”
  • Merriam-Webster added to the definition of ‘they’ in 2019, defining the pronoun as being “used to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary.”
  • The Google Ngram Viewer, an online tool that allows the data tracking of words and phrases over time, shows a rise in the use of the term ‘preferred pronoun’ starting around 2013.
  • In a September 2, 2022 article, Cosmopolitan discussed the concept of ‘neopronouns,’ defined as “noun pronouns” or “alternatives to the third-person singular pronouns [...] such as he, she, they, it, or one.” It includes things such as “​​vamp/vamps/vampself, fog/fogs/fogself, or beep/beeps/beepself, [among] a few more common neopronouns, including xe/xem, e/em, ze/zir, fae/faer, ey/em, ae/aer, ve/ver and ne/nem.” 
  • A February 2022 Gallup report says LGBTQ identification in the US has ticked up to 7.1%, up from 5.6% in 2021 and 3.5% in 2012, with nearly 21% of Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2003) identifying as LGBTQ. Bisexuality was the most common (57%) sexual identity claimed, while 10% identified as transgender.

Elliot (No)

Many today are forced or expected to use biologically incorrect ‘preferred’ pronouns. This is tyrannical, requiring the pretense that gender confusion is a neutral lifestyle that demands wholesale, unquestioning societal acceptance instead of proper psychological treatment. As the Family Research Council articulates, pronouns “contain a statement of belief about the nature of reality.” ‘Preferred’ pronouns, however, decry objective reality, purporting “there is no authority above me—or you—that has determined my identity [...] This is not a scientific claim, this is a philosophical and religious claim.” This issue goes deeper than just being polite. The government and other institutions cannot and should not compel the speech of those who disagree over these reality claims being pushed through the ‘preferred pronouns’ propaganda.

Free speech is steadily being eroded in this country, and requiring people to use certain words is a gross violation of the First Amendment. While using ‘wrong’ pronouns could offend someone, doing so is not physically harmful, nor is it the same as threatening a gender-rejecting person with violence, which activists insist it is

There is no limiting principle to accepting gender ideology, which has eroded common sense and infected corporations, schools, and even the White House. Controlling speech is a primary strategy governments and activists use to control minds, as 'those who control the language control the narrative.' 

If society progresses down this road, more words will be restricted, concepts enforced, and actions punished. Criticizing our leaders could even become illegal (a process already beginning). No one ‘owns’ pronouns (or any words, for that matter, as language exists to objectively describe reality), and, therefore, it’s wrong to coerce someone else’s speech to satisfy one’s own self-perception. Freedom of expression requires allowing ideas—old and new—to be discussed without penalty. Without it, society becomes close-minded—the opposite of 'progressive.' 

Andrew (Yes)

Trans women are women; trans men are men. Gender is a social construct, and people can identify however they want, regardless of how they were born. Given these to be true, a person's identity is up to that individual, not others around them, to decide. One's chosen gender pronouns reflect this sense of identity. Further, how can we know we are correct if we rely on our perception of others to define them rather than their expressed preferred pronouns? The invasive and extremely personal tests required to confirm someone's sex would be absurd in practice. The most simple and fair solution is to simply use someone's preferred pronouns.

Though current culture warriors would like to paint everything as black or white, the reality of our world is that most things fall into the shades between, and it's no surprise that gender issues should follow. By recognizing things as not always being cleanly separated into perfect mutually exclusive dichotomies, such as male and female, we can address many other issues in our society often presented this way. Not every issue has to be a major existential battle; using someone's preferred pronouns is a simple way to foster understanding. 

Finally, it just isn't that difficult to address someone by how they prefer to be addressed. Though some argue it may be confusing or cause documentation problems, the truth is there are solutions for all of these problems if we just take a moment to recognize these are people and worth the minuscule effort required in using one's preferred pronouns to show them respect. Using someone's preferred pronouns acknowledges their essential humanity, a quality we all share, regardless of gender.

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