In Meriwether v Hartop, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a professor who refused to call a student by his preferred (feminine) pronouns (see Law & Crime for the backstory to the case). The 3-panel court ruled that this violated both his free speech and religious rights. This is a big win for those advocating for both common sense and free speech in regards to preferred gender pronouns.

Language is sexed. Pronouns are meant to match one’s biological sex, not their personal sense of gender identity. If a biological boy thinks of himself as a girl, that’s fine, but he remains a biological male nonetheless, and as such, according to the English rules of grammar, should be referred to with male pronouns. In the same way the boy has a right to think of himself as a girl, we have a right to use language the way we see fit – which, in this case, accords with both biological reality and the rules of English grammar. No one should be compelled to use certain speech or deny biological reality.

The very notion of preferred gender pronouns is an exercise in hubris. The pronouns in question are third person pronouns: he/him/his and she/her/hers. You don’t use third person pronouns when addressing someone directly. You refer to them by name or by using the second person pronoun “you.” Typically, you would only use third person pronouns when referring to someone in their absence. As such, the person who demands that you use certain pronouns with reference to them is not demanding that you speak to them in a certain way, but that you speak of them in a certain way. They would never even hear us say the pronouns they demand we use! They are not asking us to be considerate of them in their presence, but to acquiesce to their worldview in their absence. This is not a matter of politeness, but of control. It’s a way of forcing others to comply with their ideological preferences. I say “no.”