When the actual pronoun movement first took shape—or at least when I first learned about it many years ago—it was a little complicated. Growing up in a family where linguistic nuance was respected, and then spending decades in a career where subject-verb agreement was not an option, I was told to use the pronouns "they" and "their" for a single person. This can lead to confusion, which is the exact opposite of the clarity we seek in our profession.
I'm so done now.
It took me a while to get there, but language should be used the way people use language. Furthermore, perhaps people choose to identify with how we identify them. In the newsroom we called it the Muhammad Ali Law: If Cassius Clay wanted to be called Muhammad Ali, we called him.
Similarly, if a person has a gender other than that on the birth certificate, that gender should be used. If someone decides they are non-binary, meaning they don't identify as male or female, then we should identify with them.
Why someone makes this decision is none of our business. Of course, it's not the government's job to tell people what pronouns should be.
But in Kentucky, Republican lawmakers disagree.
They introduced legislation last week to protect teachers and other school employees who knowingly abuse transgender students. The bill would ban policies that require school personnel to use gender-inconsistent pronouns on a student's birth certificate. It also prohibits school policies that allow students to withhold information, including gender identity, from their parents
Do these things really burn in Kentucky?
"School administrators and teachers are being put under undue pressure to adhere to a curriculum that has no place in our public schools," the bill's sponsor said. "It's time to remove these unnecessary distractions from our classrooms."
Why is it so difficult to show respect for a child or teenager by using a name or pronoun that you like? Why not focus on more important things?
Kentucky, after all, ranks among the top 10 US states in USNews and WalletHub rankings comparing the state's economy, education system, health and quality of life for residents. 20 percent of Kentuckians live in poverty, the fifth highest poverty rate in the nation. Will demonizing trans kids really improve the lives of Kentuckians?
The state's beloved Democratic governor, Andy Bescher, told The Associated Press he was horrified by the recklessness of the law, which comes months after the son of a Democratic state senator died by suicide. Beshear fears it could increase bullying in schools.
But lawmakers who support such laws don't care or like transgender kids being bullied.
What they're really worried about, it seems to me, is whether such a bill might create enough hysteria to get conservative voters on board and turn out.
Not long ago, same-sex marriage hysteria was aimed at the same thing, and not just in red states. Remember California's 2008 Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage until it was struck down by the courts in 2010.
Despite this, the US Supreme Court struck down same-sex marriage once and for all in 2011. Oberfell and Hodges legalized the practice in a landmark decision in 2015. Perhaps not coincidentally, the same year drag queen Storytime debuted in San Francisco and the same year right-wing activists in Houston began arguing that the city's proposed equal rights law would allow men to touch girls in public restrooms. (ends in loss)
With same-sex marriage on the table, was there any doubt that conservative attacks on transgender rights would increase?
Last year, 36 states passed at least 300 trans and gay rights bills, according to the website LGBTQ+ Them. And now, less than two months from 2023, more than 90 anti-LGBTQ bills are making their way through state legislatures.
Four states — Alabama, Arkansas, Texas and Arizona — have criminalized gender-based care for transgender youth, the health site KFF reported.
Eighteen, including Kentucky, prohibit children from playing on sports teams based on their gender identity.
And some states are introducing ludicrous bills that would limit gender-based care for adults, raising fears that trans adults will be forced into the margins.
The Ugly War Is Making All Americans Transgender.
Legislation to eliminate selective pronouns may seem like a small thing, but it's part of a larger strategy to disenfranchise trans people.
And of course, MAGA to get the Republican vote.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.