A pronoun lawsuit

Uh oh. Is Nike a TERF?

A transgender former Nike contractor is seeking $1.1 million in damages from the sporting goods giant for allegedly allowing gender identity-based harassment. 

According to a civil lawsuit filed this week, Nike and Mainz Brady Group, a staffing firm that hired workers for Nike, discriminated against computer engineer Jazz Lyles, who identifies as transmasculine and prefers the pronouns they/them/their. The complaint was filed with Multnomah Circuit Court in Oregon. 

What does “transmasculine” mean? How is it different from trans male? Is a trans man “transmasculine”? Is that just another way of saying Jazz Lyles identifies as male? Or is it different? Does they merely prefer the pronouns they/them/their, or does they require them? It sounds as if they requires them, seeing as how they is suing.

During Lyles’ tenure at Nike — from May 2017 to September 2018 — the engineer was repeatedly “misgendered” by coworkers, the complaint said. While Lyles notified management about the issue multiple times, the companies allegedly failed to implement any policies, procedures and trainings around the use of gender pronouns in the workplace.

Could it be that the coworkers just forgot? It’s actually not all that easy to remember to override your perceptions every single time you refer to Special Person X, and people at work tend to have other things to think of, more pressing things that are closely related to their paychecks. It’s also not absolutely clear that Nike or any other company should be wasting training time on telling employees to memorize counter-intuitive pronouns for a growing list of special employees.

“When someone refuses to acknowledge a person’s gender identity or insists on referring to them by a gender to which they do not identify (called misgendering), this causes real and significant harm,” read the complaint.

Ah. It’s interesting that you say that, because no it doesn’t. It doesn’t cause real or significant harm. Having a special bespoke pronoun is just a stupid narcissistic demand on others, and their failure to comply causes no harm at all – it might even do some good, by instructing the pronoun-haver in what all adults should have a healthy awareness of: the fact that Them is not more special than other people, and Them can’t put extra burdens on other people as a way of forcing them to pay increased attention to Special Them.

“Employers like Nike have a responsibility to present a safe workplace and ensure that employees respect their coworkers’ gender pronouns,” Shenoa Payne, the plaintiff’s attorney, told CBS News. 

No, they don’t. Safe workplace, yes, of course, but ensure that employees respect their coworkers’ gender pronouns, no – not what Payne means by “gender pronouns,” which is pronouns that don’t match the sex of the pronoun-haver and thus require extra attention for people to remember to use. If employees are calling a guy “her” because they think he’s too girly, that’s harassment, but forgetting to call him “them” is just forgetting.

According to Payne, the misgendering lawsuit against Nike is unique, though it is not the first time the company faced a lawsuit focusing on gender. Last year, four women filed a federal lawsuit against Nike, alleging it violated state and federal equal-pay laws and fostered a work environment that allowed sexual harassment.

And Lyles decided They wanted some of that for Themself.

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