May 21, 2016

How not to imprrove transgender status

Christian Science Monitor

New York City issued guidelines in December 2015 for employers and landlords on the correct pronoun usage for transgender men and transgender women. Violating the guidelines intentionally or repeatedly could result in a fine as large as $250,000, especially if doing so appears to be malicious. The guidelines say that to avoid the fine, transgender people must be asked what their preferred pronoun is.

The guidelines require anyone who provides jobs or housing to use the transgender person's preferred pronoun, such as "ze," "hir," "they," them," "he," "she," "him," or "her." "Ze" is the third person singular, used in place of either "he" or "she," while "hir" is third person possessive, used to replace "his" or "her." Pronouns like "ze" or "hir" represent a break from traditional male- or female-only roles.

"Gender expression may not be distinctively male or female and may not conform to traditional gender-based stereotypes to specific gender identities," said a city official.

While some say that the conversation over transgender pronouns represents progress toward equality, others note how easy it might be – even for the parents of transgender people – to also sometimes forget or mix up the pronouns.

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