Allow a gender neutral approach in the CoC

by The Anathema   Last Updated October 19, 2019 21:24 PM - source

This is simply a request to allow they, them, or their, despite the insistence from SE that the singular they is a form of misgendering, and to remove that idea as a violation of the new Code Of Conduct. See: I Heart The Singular They for a friendly explanation.

I point to this list here.

List of protologisms/third person singular gender neutral pronouns

I submit that they, them, or their be allowed to refer to any and all of those in that list, based on the evidence that I submit below. I submit that if they has been the preferred inclusive word for the existing pronouns, then it should also be considered the standard for all other pronouns.

Cesar said it himself.

Official FAQ on gender pronouns and Code of Conduct changes

The vast majority of people go by the pronouns sets “he/him” or “she/her.” A small but increasing number of people use “they/them” pronouns or another pronouns set -- sometimes simply because they don’t want to go by pronouns with a gender association (just as some folks go by “Ms.” whether or not they are married, because they don’t think their marital status should be a relevant issue), and sometimes people use pronouns that aren’t associated with one of those two most common (binary) genders because they are nonbinary (i.e. people who are neither exclusively a man nor exclusively a woman -- e.g. genderqueer, agender, bigender, fluid, third/additional gender in a cultural tradition, etc.).

I want to draw attention to the fact that the text Cesar quoted uses "they" in the rest of their post. Why? What's the reason? This thread is a defense of Monica's stance and I believe a necessary inclusion within the new Code Of Conduct. I will do my best to remain completely unbiased and use nothing but language, history, and trends that I can cite.

In The Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing for Writers, Editors and Speakers by Kate Swift and Casey Miller, they rightfully state that the traditional usage to refer to a person of any gender would take the male form. This has been true for thousands of years.

  • Plurality in Latin, Spanish, and many other languages takes the male form.
  • In English, he/his is often used in place of indeterminate antecedent. Example: Each person to his own, but they or their is becoming more popular. See Cesar's quote above.

Efforts to reduce the male bias has led to a more inclusive switch to neutrality.

Some people may take issue with this from a grammatical standpoint. However...

In In Search of Gender Neutrality: Is Singular They a Cognitively Efficient Substitute for Generic He?" Julie Foertsch, she writes this:

As ungrammatical as this shift may be, the justification for it is quite clear. The generic he that grammarians prescribe is typically perceived as referring to a male, not as being all-inclusive (Khosroshahi. 1989; Kidd, 1971; MacKay & Fulkerson, 1979; Martyna, 1978a; Moulton, Robinson, & Elias, 1978; Silvera, 1980).


Eor this reason, it is perhaps not surprising that the pronoun they—a technically plural pronoun— was readily accepted for all four antecedent types. Indeed, when the antecedent was an indefinite pronoun, readers actually processed singular they faster than he or she, and the rules of prescriptive grammar have already been changed to accommodate this apparent preference.

This demonstrates that they is also preferred by speakers. As a Q&A site, I believe we should strive to maintain clarity and inclusiveness for everyone.

  • People already struggle with the English language. They have complained that they will have trouble articulating and formulating the various pronouns. However, I will also add that as a native speaker, I too will have that trouble.
  • As someone on the autism spectrum, I do not feel inclusiveness or friendliness towards my constant, daily struggle to follow social norms. I would like a break and for the SE mods/CMs to recognize that it is polite to be neutral.
  • It allows those whose conscience cannot allow them to use specific pronouns. For whatever reason, they feel like they cannot. I do not put this here to debate their intentions or moral compass. However, I strongly feel that it is professional to remain neutral.

I will end this with a biased opinion, and how I feel.

I saw Shog9's answer stating that "language changes." Yes, it does change, but it's changed for the better with the inclusion of gender neutral language. I believe their answer is at odds with the evidence and ideas I've put forth, and that his stance, while well written, does not sufficiently defend the idea that neutrality is a form of misgendering.

I believe StackExchange has made a mistake in believing that neutral language is a form of misgendering, as certain words weren't invented to be a gender, but to refer to any gender, and that includes the words I've defended here.

A lot of users here have talked about freedom of speech, the law, etc. I feel like this is a red herring. I do not feel like it applies here. I feel strongly that the right to be neutral isn't a legal right. It is a right given to me by the universe itself. By virtue of being a lifeform with a central nervous system, I was given the abilities to be silent, refrain from sides, decline to be included, and to do nothing.

I feel very strongly that taking away neutrality such as a centuries old word that the LGBTQ+, feminist, and other activist communities have spent years to include and embrace to avoid bias and exclusion is at odds with that right.

Edit: This is not a request for objections. A close request has been made to suggest that I am seeking an answer that is found in another question. I am not. I found my answer in the above books and studies, and as my profile is marked for deletion anyway, I am fine with this post being closed, as I am seeking objections in the same way I seek objections to the theory of relativity - not one bit, unless someone has any hard evidence to the contrary.

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