The Future of Pronouns

In a USA Today op-ed, former Republican turned confused former Republican, Tom Nichols, asks a snarky, yet very real question of the Democrats: Are you trying to lose?

When we watched CNN’s LGBTQ town hall for the Democratic candidates Thursday, we had very different reactions. This is the event, you remember, where former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas said he’d punish religious institutions for refusing gay marriage, and where Sen. Kamala Harris of California started by informing us of her pronouns, and then host Chris Cuomo, after a mild and dopey joke, had to go on Twitter the next day and apologize for making light of it. This is where Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts fielded a question about traditional marriage with a sneering, smug insinuation that the only people who would ask her about that are men who can’t find a woman.

You thought it was great. You saw a ringing defense of LGBTQ rights and a reaffirmation of what Democrats stand for.

I saw it and thought: Are these people insane? Are they trying to lose the election?

It’s not that gay rights don’t matter, or being homophobic. It’s that LGBTQ people comprise, maybe, 5% of Americans, leaving 95% of Americans to wonder why this was worthy of its own town hall, and why the candidates can’t be for gay rights without having to attack people who are straight. As Nichols said, there are a great many people who have nothing against gay people at all. You’re gay? Great. That’s nice. You be who you are. Yay.

But that’s as far as it goes. If your point is that we need to reinvent the world to indulge the most childish affections of a vast minority of the population, it’s an issue. Then came International Pronoun Day.

International Pronouns Day is observed on Oct. 16 to “make respecting, sharing and educating about personal pronouns commonplace.” Gender identity and expression are central to the way we see ourselves and engage in our surroundings. 

If pronouns are “central” to your world, you need a bigger world. Putting aside linguistic conventions, the ridiculousness of walking around telling people your pronouns and the sheer childishness of this affectation, it’s one thing to let it go as a matter of courtesy. If someone insists on using peculiar pronouns in order to assert their identity, why be rude? There’s no shortage of silly demands made on the vast majority of people to accommodate the gibberish rationales to make the disaffected feel as if they can dictate your speech to make themselves the center of the universe.

“When you’re at a party, or any other social event, with friends or professional colleagues, even just asking a simple question: ‘What pronouns do you use?’ or ‘What pronouns can I use for you?’ It almost seems like a taboo,” Kutney said. “And it’s really a simple question, it’s really not anything taboo at all. It’s quite normal considering we use pronouns all the time. It’s a cultural thing that we’re all trying to get used to.”

Normalizing this question makes it easier for the transgender and non-binary people in your life — your friends, family members, classmates, co-workers or other community members — to share their full selves with the world, knowing you have their backs. Ana Flores, HRC’s senior manager of inclusion, education and engagement, said that asking about pronouns goes a long way to a transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming person.

Whatever. But it’s not just a matter of courtesy to the unduly passionate, but a demonstration of allyship.

Pronouns are also an important way to show you’re an ally. For HRC’s Executive Board Relations Coordinator Bonnie Casillas, sharing her pronouns is an extension of her allyship for the LGBTQ community.

“As a straight, cis woman of color, pronouns matter because it gives room for everyone to present themselves authentically. Saying my pronouns aloud or simply including them on my email signature is also an easy way to tell people that they are welcomed and respected. This is just one of the little ways I use my privilege every day,” she said.

This is where it shifts from being a matter of courtesy, childish indulgence, to pushing its way into a mandate for the masses. After all, you don’t want to be homophobic or transphobic, obviously, and complete acceptance of LGBTQ rights isn’t sufficient to prove your allyship anymore. If you don’t join the pronoun club, you’re no ally. And if you’re no ally, you’re a hater.

This is the prelude to the next “Dear Colleague” letter, the one from the next administration’s Department of Education, Department of Justice, informing colleges that failure to police use of preferred pronouns constitutes sexual harassment and must be stopped. Professors will be fired for misgendering their students. Students will be suspended, even expelled, for not using the pronouns demanded of them.

Colleges are the hothouses where these flowers of inanity bloom, both because the young are impressionable and malleable, and they’re easily beaten down by passionate bureaucrats who can impose their will be unilateral fiat. And the woke will inherit the campus, with bias response teams showing up at your kids’ dorms should they use “he” instead of “they” or, dare I say it, “xe.”

And what started as a childish indulgence could end up destroying a student’s future. From there, it’s merely a baby step to morph into the usual assortment of outlandish complaints like “abuse.”

And if it’s abuse, it must be ended, since abuse is bad and can’t possibly be tolerated.

The argument over pronouns is a silly one, as Nichols says, the sort of thing that drives the vast majority of people to wonder what sort of idiocy has seized hold of seemingly intelligent adults. But then using the wrong pronoun ultimately ends up putting you on the Group W bench, this is how it happened.

28 thoughts on “The Future of Pronouns

  1. B. McLeod

    The “dear colleague” letter on this occurred in a series of Obama era consent decrees issued in “gender discrimination” cases. The affected employers were required to institute annual training and to discipline employees who used the former names or pronouns cast off by any gender nonconforming employee. So the whole apparatus is already in place, ready to be fired up again upon any Democratic victory.

  2. delurking

    I’m changing my pronoun from he to bhe. See, I have brown hair, and that b out in front stands for brown hair. My brown hair is central to my identity, I’ve had it for quite a few decades now, and I think it is time for people to start recognizing how this makes me an individual. And if you don’t, you are clearly kastanochaetophobic, and should not be welcomed in polite society.

    More seriously, words do matter. Do you want to be treated differently from the cisgender people because of your transgenderness, or the same? If the answer is “the same”, then loudly insisting on a different label is counterproductive.

    1. Patrick Maupin

      I’m already bhe because I’m bald. Sorry, but I’m calling you “heh” since you’re a he with hair.

      1. Fubar

        Elgie Beatty Queue Fubar, my aunt,
        Uses these pronouns: yxu, hzr, and thxant.
        When you want to impress her,
        Use them to address her,
        If you can pronounce them. I can’t!

    1. Raccoon Strait

      Thanks JG Jr. Now can I have the 11 minutes and 50 seconds I just spent watching the Rodney Dangerfield piece that came up after that, back?

    2. Turk

      You can call me anything you want except late for dinner.

      Thank you and don’t forget to tip your waitress server.

  3. Black Bellamy

    That woman from Cheshire whatever in the video, that’s the expression. That’s it! I’m staring at that video and that woman is just there in the lower right corner, motionless, waiting for me to click the play icon.

    But I wont! I don’t want to do anything to disturb that expression, to put in in motion. It’s frozen in time, perfection itself. That’s the Pronoun Authority Face. That’s the face that will come to your house and beat you with a truncheon for using the wrong wordses. That’s the face that should have been on Michael Palin’s mask when he put the screws to Jonathan Pryce in Brazil.

      1. Black Bellamy

        Shit, I should have put Brazil in quotes like you did with your film title. I don’t want to give the impression that British actors are doing anything wrong in that fine country. Or anyone else for that matter. It’s a fine place.

  4. Dan T.

    That’s been blowing up for the last couple of weeks on StackExchange / StackOverflow, a group of question/answer sites mostly about technical topics (though they have a few sites about more culture-war-relevant things like philosophy and religion). A moderator lost her position over it for preferring not to use singular “they” (she wished to reword writing to use no pronouns at all to avoid either misgendering anybody or using usages she found ungrammmatical, but that wasn’t good enough fo the language police); she happened to be a college classmate of mine I hadn’t had any contact with in over 30 years but reconnected as a result of this flap.

    Out of curiosity, I checked several editions of the American Heritage Dictionary including the current online version, where they had usage notes under “he” and “they”; while there has been gradual increase in acceptance of singular “they”, from being heavily disfavored by their usage panel in the 1992 edition to having some usages such as with an antecedent of “anyone” or “everyone” approved by a slight majority in the current edition, but the currently trendy usage for specific named individuals who identify that way is still rejected by the majority.

    1. B. McLeod

      Most of the morons pushing this lockstep ideology rely on the AP Stylebook as their authority. This was also the official PC and Thought Police manual at ABA Journal.

  5. CLS

    If we have to deal with this silliness then so be it. I’m going all in.

    On Pronouns Day, I hereby announce my preferred pronouns are “Your Highness”/”Lord Evil”/”Darth.” Failure to use them in my presence means you’re trying to erase my lived experiences or some bullshit and committing horrible hate speech.


  6. Richard Kopf


    Think of of a judge.

    When confronted with a litigant who uses and insists that everyone else uses a heretofore uncommon pronoun–a non-binary pronoun–what should the judge do when, say, writing an opinion or trying a case? Perhaps it is best to avoid the controversy altogether and refer to the litigant by their last name or as plaintiff or defendant.

    This is not an insignificant problem. Imagine, for example, a judicial misconduct complaint predicated upon the failure to use a preferred pronoun. Judges have a solemn obligation to treat litigants (and witnesses) with respect and to insist that the lawyers do so as well. Is the failure to use a preferred pronoun an outward sign of disrespect?

    The u-tube video provided by Jeff is a funny example based on an old gig. It becomes less funny and more troublesome when seriously applied to the courtrooms across this nation.


    All the best.


    1. B. McLeod

      Names and pronouns don’t work for the flippers, because their names as well as their pronouns may be different day-to-day. Even when these cases get to SCOTUS someday, they will pose the issue whether flippers should be referred to with their names/pronouns as of the beginning of the hearing, or as of the conclusion of the hearing, or whether the Court should inquire as of the day the opinion is actually to be issued. This suggests that role-based terms such as “plaintiff” or “defendant” would be best.

    2. SHG Post author

      At some level, this is a chief judge problem, as a judge would be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Imagine how ridiculous an opinion will read when it uses preferred peculiar pronouns and is quoted in some subsequent case.

      1. PseudonymousKid

        Ridiculous as it may be, some lawyers are smart enough to switch the “Xhe pled guilty” to “[Defendant] pled guilty”. Whether or not editing like that is an example of misgendering, I’ll leave to others. I’m all for saving a step and having the Court just refer to all parties by their role like the Judge suggests regardless. Sadly this sort of thing is important enough for some.

        “Please state and spell your name for the record” will very soon include “and state your preferred pronouns”. I don’t think it can be stopped. Best to avoid it all together when possible.

  7. Jeffrey Gamso

    There was a judge (retired now) who could never remember anyone’s name. He referred to everyone – in court and out of court, on the record and off – by title: Mr. Prosecutor, Mr. Defense Counsel, Mr. Defendant, Mr. Plaintiff. He always used the honorific “Mr.” or “Ms” if the person was a woman. It was very weird.

  8. B. McLeod

    The prominence given to the enforced pronoun issue via the LGBTQ Town Hall signals, by omission, a serious snub of the species dysphoric community, as there has (conspicuously) been no Town Hall for the Furry Fandom. Why do these “progressive” candidates hate the species dysphoric? If they weren’t all hater Shitlords and Shitladies, they would hold such a Town Hall and debate behind placards displaying their names as they are called in the Furry Fandom. Had they a scrap of the most basic interspecies decency, they would also have their names shown on the ballot that way in every state.

  9. Liam McDonald

    Beto’s comment was a great idea!

    It’s not like the LBGTQ community would go around from church to church trying to get married, get rejected and then be able to have them “punished” That community is not reactive in anyway!

    Think of the rainbows!!! You can’t be full of spite with a rainbow logo!

  10. Andrew Garland

    When in doubt, use “comrade”. It’s suitable for all people and occasions and is on the right side of history. That is the desired endpoint, anyway.

    If there is any objection from the supposedly mis-named, respond: Comrade, I hope you are not placing your individuality ahead of the health and progress of the group.

    1. B. McLeod

      But of course, that is the entire point. Individuality holds primacy now, and the comrade in question, whether a flipper or a furry, can hardly be expected to conform said comrade’s external stereotype for the health and progress of the group. Everybody’s special freak show must be acknowledged and celebrated by the group.

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