A University of Toronto professor of psychology by the name of Jordan Peterson, is the subject of a campus protest over his refusal to use genderless pronouns.
While many in the community will see this as an act of bigotry, Professor Peterson sees this as an act of free speech.
The Professor was quoted in a CBC News article as saying;
"I don't recognize another person's right to decide what words I'm going to use, especially when the words they want me to use, first of all, are non-standard elements of the English language and they are constructs of a small coterie of ideologically motivated people."
I find this issue to be problematic. Making the switch to calling people "they", is non-standard like the Professor is saying. Because it's non-standard, it often results in unnecessary conflict with people who are transgender positive or neutral. Turning language into a battlefield, is a battle and a war that no one wins.
As the creator of TRANZGENDR, I am also sensitive to free speech issues. I don't like the idea of being forced to say or do things, because of someone else's ideology or sensibilities. We can't complain about the world forcing us to lie about our genders, and then turn around and force the world to use non-standard language that they are unconformable with. It's hypocritical.
There needs to be a better solution. The professor is right, this argument and protest is a loser. You cannot change the world, you can only change what you can control. What we should be doing, is looking at each other and saying how can we make it easier for our cisgender friends and families to adjust. The less friction, the easier it will be to embrace and support the trans community. We need to find or create a pronoun that is fluid and intuitive. That is how we win this argument. Not my creating obstacles and then demand the world overcome them. Language is supposed to make our lives easier, not harder.
The videos coming out of the protest make the community look foolish. I'm sorry but it's the truth. I understand the frustrations of the students, particularly those who are gender non-conforming.
But the simple truth is, we cannot expect the world to change just because we want it to. The community is too small, to be demanding that kind of change. We must work within the confines of the environment in which we live. Which means, we have to adapt and we must find a solution that works best for everyone.
"They" should be seen as a placeholder, for when the right and true pronoun finally emerges. I have a feeling that more intuitive and fluid pronoun that will emerge over time will be "non". Because it is more descriptive, it's shorter, and it's less confusing once you understand the context. Using "they" will always cause people's heads to spin. Apple beat Microsoft and Google by finding a fluid and intuitive way to interact with computers, we need to find our fluid and intuitive way to interact with the trans community.