What are your pronouns? How do you self-identify? As recently as when I was in college, earlier this young century, those two questions would have elicited confusion, if not mockery. Now, they are increasingly part of the grammar of our introductions to others. During an LGBTQ town hall this past fall, Sen. Kamala Harris stated that her pronouns were “she” and “her.” It is becoming common to hear people introduce themselves and “self-identify” by sexual, gender, racial, or ethnic classifiers.
“Sharing one’s pronouns and asking for others’ pronouns when making introductions is a growing trend in U.S. colleges,” reported BBC correspondent Avinash Chak in 2015. Some employers—including National Public Radio—are also mandating that stating one’s pronouns be a regular part of professional introductions. Those who fall out of line regarding this woke syntax, alternatively, are labeled “out of touch,” if not a bigot, a racist, or an espouser of any number of “phobias.”
CNN’s Chris Cuomo was attacked and forced to recant for his response to Sen. Harris’s pronouns announcement (he jokingly said his pronouns were also “she” and “her.”) British journalist Piers Morgan was accused by the LGBTQ community of promoting an “insidious agenda” for joking by claiming he identified as a “two-spirit penguin.” Others, increasingly, suffer professional and societal consequences for failing to kowtow to the latest woke standards.
“Queer editor and writer” Kat Jercic mourns the “cisgender” pushback regarding pronouns and, in a recent Washington Post opinion piece, asks, “Why can’t cisgender people be semi-normal about this?” Because it’s not normal. It is not normal to reject one’s biological make-up. It is not normal to pump one’s body full of hormones in an attempt to assume a new gender identity. It is not normal to undergo surgeries to alter one’s sexual organs. Until recent scientific discoveries, such actions were not even possible or were fraught with tremendous health risks. Indeed, these all reflect a repudiation of human nature at its most simple, essential level.
Nor is it normal to demand other people invest a huge amount of energy to ensure one’s identities and various forms of self-expression are understood and appreciated. In the past, when meeting a stranger—say, a new professional colleague or a fellow passenger on a train or airplane—one might have offered a name and perhaps where one came from and what one did for a living. It was simple, straightforward, and collegial.
The new modica of twenty-first-century interactions are anything but. Jercic, citing Ada Powers, whose gender identity I can’t figure out, explains that “dual pronoun use is a way for some non-binary people to express the complexities of their gender identity in different contexts and social settings.” Complexities? Contexts? Is every human interaction now to be the equivalent of a graduate seminar in the women’s and gender studies department?
These new norms, rather than facilitating more charitable and respectful human interactions, undermine them. In a world that demands hyper-sensitivity to the multivalent identities and expressions of every person—lest we offend or expose our insufficient woke credentials—it’s better not to try. It might be best to just keep one’s eyes locked on a smartphone or newspaper. The proliferation of pronouns and identities doesn’t eliminate barriers to human exchange; it raises them.
Consider the stakes of conforming (or not conforming) to “non-cisgender” individuals. “Having my gender interpreted incorrectly makes me feel panicky, like trying on a sweater that’s too tight around the neck in a crowded store,” says Jercic. Others, Jercic tells us, experience feelings of loneliness, dysphoria, depression, or being stigmatized or threatened. Really? If someone “mislabels” them? One would think these people were under the same threat of physical violence or societal discrimination that blacks experienced in the Jim Crow or antebellum South.
Indeed, this is exactly the analogy the LGBTQ community tries to make. This is not only an insult to Black Americans and their ancestors who experienced prejudice or violence, it’s also patently ridiculous. One statistic alone is sufficient to obliterate the comparison. In 2017, while 41 percent of trans adults in the United States said they had attempted suicide in their lives, less than four percent of Black Americans had. Moreover, research by historians at Montana State University found suicide rates among black slaves in the antebellum period to be “surprisingly low.” We are expected to believe that prejudice and discrimination against the LGBTQ community should be equated with anti-black discrimination, causing great mental and emotional trauma. Yet blacks, unlike LGBTQ folk, have largely coped without trying to kill themselves.
Either the LGBTQ community is experiencing societal mistreatment at levels far beyond what Black Americans have ever experienced—thus explaining their astronomical suicide attempt rates—or something else explains this disparity. Given the desperate, pathological need of many of its members to be coddled and affirmed, I’ll propose one thesis: mental illness. Indeed, even current research demonstrates that LGBTQ folks experience mental illness at twice the rate of heterosexuals; this shouldn’t be too surprising. Moreover, until May 2019, the World Health Organization classified gender dysphoria as a mental disorder. Many other medical organizations, until they were bullied and threatened into conformity, did much the same.
In December, The Washington Post featured a story reporting that “for one non-binary teen, coming of age means getting their parents to embrace a new name.” This is craziness, in the most literal sense. Parents are not supposed to be curtsying to the whims of their confused teenagers. Not long ago, we would call such mothers and fathers negligent. But this goes far beyond parenting. A society that promotes mental illness as a legitimate “alternative lifestyle” is in deep trouble. One that is increasingly subservient to the demands of the mentally ill has entered even more dangerous territory.
We know whom to blame. A mainstream media and secular academia that claim to be the vanguard of truth and liberty, ironically, are actively attacking both these pillars of American democracy under the guise of tolerance and sexual self-expression. LGBTQ vigilantism regarding our nation’s adherence to their pronouns and self-identity ideology proves it.
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