Compassion for Transgender People Shouldn't Change Our Language

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Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. He is the author of 25 books and hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, the Line of Fire.

No amount of compassion for a young person struggling with gender identity issues can justify the radical transformation of the English language, yet that is exactly what is being called for by transgender activists.

For anyone following the progression of LGBT activism, this is nothing new. (See, for example, the chapter "Lavender Language, Gender Speak, and Queer Semantics: Towards an Omnisexual Society?" in my book A Queer Thing Happened to America.) But when this radical agenda comes to a school district where you live, it's important that we speak out again, loudly and clearly.

I'm talking specifically about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, which in June announced the implementation of new regulations "Supporting Transgender Students." Included in these regulations are rules for the proper use of pronouns so that, "Nonofficial records must refer to transgender student by preferred names and pronouns." (Due to a recent Supreme Court ruling, some of this agenda has been put on temporary hold.)

In an official instructional video, "The Importance of Pronouns," one student, who is identified as a "non-binary transgender youth" (meaning, a young person who chooses not to identify as specifically male or female) explains why he/she prefers to use the pronouns they, them, and theirs when referring to himself/herself.

Other students and faculty are expected to follow suit, and on this same video, a high school teacher says that it's important that a transgender student be able to communicate these things at the beginning of the school year so everyone can comply.

And what happens if you fail to comply? Earlier this year, a "'transmasculine' teacher at an Oregon elementary school [was] awarded $60,000 by her school district as compensation for harassment she claims to have suffered on the job, including being referred to by the wrong pronoun."

Specifically, the teacher, who was born female but chooses not to identify as either male or female, "says employees persisted in calling her hurtful terms like 'Miss Soell,' 'lady,' and 'she.'" The school eventually agreed that that she would be called "they," but when other faculty members wouldn't comply, she took them to court, winning a substantial payment in the process.

What about the confusion her gender ambiguity causes for the elementary school children she teaches? That is obviously not a concern at all.

As for this emphasis on trans-correct pronouns, it appears that the sky is the limit — and remember, students and faculty are expected to comply with the trans-identified student's request.

One individual on the Ask a Non-Binary website writes this: "These are all the gender neutral pronouns I've managed to hunt down but I am ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN there are several missing."

1. They/them/their/themself
2. tey/tem/ter/temself
3. ey/em/eir/emself
4. e/em/eir/emself
5. thon/thon/thons/thonself
6. fae/faer/faers/faerself
7. vae/vaer/vaers/vaerself
8. ae/aer/aers/aerself
9. ne/nym/nis/nymself
10. ne/nem/nir/nemself
11. xe/xem/xyr/xemself
12. xe/xim/xis/ximself
13. xie/xem/xyr/xemself
14. ze(or zie)/zir/zirs/zirself
15. zhe/zhir/zhirs/zhirself
16. ze/hir/hirs/hirself
17. sie/sier/siers/sierself
18. zed/zed/zeds/zedself
19. zed/zed/zeir/zedself
20. ce/cir/cirs/cirself
21. co/cos/cos/coself
22. ve/vis/vir/verself
23. jee/jem/jeir/jemself
24. lee/lim/lis/limself
25. kye/kyr/kyne/kyrself
26. per/per/pers/perself
27. hu/hum/hus/humself
28. bun/bun/buns/bunself
29. it/it/its/itself

This is followed by "I've also seen 'yo' and 'fey' pronouns but I have no idea how to conjugate them. And I'm off to still hunt for more! If you know of any GN pronouns feel free to reblog and add unto the list and i'll edit the original as well," adding, "OH MY GOSH!! SO IMPORTANT!!"

Is your head spinning yet?

To be totally honest, I feel more sorrow than mockery when I read this list — especially when I see how important this is to those who identify as transgender — and when I see these kids talking on the instructional school videos, my heart really goes out to them. They appear to be the age of some of my own grandchildren, and I don't doubt that they have more than their share of struggles at school.

But to repeat, no amount of compassion for a young person struggling with gender identity issues can justify the radical transformation of the English language, nor can it justify this scenario where perception becomes reality and words are created to justify these new, totally individual perceptions.

What if you had several trans students in your class and one of them wanted to be referred to as tey, another as fae, another as per, another as sed, another as xie, another as thon? You would need a scorecard to get this right. (And remember: The other classmates would need a scorecard too.)

Speaking of scorecards, what if you were calling a girls' soccer game where several transgender students were playing? It might sound like this, "Well, she made a great shot, but ze made an even better save. Thankfully, her teammate was able to score on the rebound, so hats off to kye for being at the right place at the right time. And let's not overlook zed's hustle!"

And what if one of the kids in the school was gender fluid, and you referred to him at David one day, only to find out that he was Dianne the next day, only to find out that he/she wanted to be referred to as xe the next day?

Lest you think I'm making up an impossible scenario, a March 23, 2016 headline on the Daily Mail website read, "'Some days Annie is a girl, some days Annie is a boy and some days she's both': The 12-year-old whose gender changes on a daily basis depending on how they feel."

In New York, a well-known dance school elected "its first gender fluid prom queen sparking backlash from jealous female students angry at being beaten by a 'boy'." Of course, the "jealous" female students were made out to be the villains of the story.

Or consider this interaction on NPR between Margot Adler and Lynn Walker:

WALKER: And then part of the intake is to say, well, what pronoun do you like today? It might be just today.

ADLER: Because Walker has clients who might be Jimmy one day, and Deloris the next.

WALKER: Once you develop the habit of saying, oh, that person, that is a she, that's Delores. It doesn't matter that she looks rather like Jimmy or looks like she was called Jimmy by her parents.

On this same broadcast, Joy Ladin commented, "The folks who are cutting edge and exciting, they're gender fluid, they're gender complicated, they're gender queer."

Walker also stated, "We encountered high school students who said, I want you to call me Tractor and use pronouns like zee, zim and zer. And, in fact, I reject the gender binary as an oppressive move by the dominant culture."

And now whole school districts are being required to go along with this social madness, with the enthusiastic support of the Obama administration.

I urge every student, parent, and educator to join me in saying, "While we have compassion on kids who are struggling, we refuse to turn the world upside down on their behalf, no matter what tey, ey, fae, vae, thon, per, kye, jee, lee, ne, zed, co, or bun has to say."

(See here for my relevant video commentary, featuring actual footage from the official training materials.)

Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is The Grace Controversy. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.