No small or trivial feat

The ACLU’s fascination with customized pronouns goes back several years. It’s a deeply peculiar cause for a civil liberties organization to focus on, because it has nothing to do with civil liberties – on the contrary, it’s a campaign to coerce people’s language for no good reason.

A blog post from ACLU Northern California in July 2015:

“Hello, my name is Anna and my pronouns are she, her, and hers.” That has now become my standard greeting at meetings and events. It wasn’t something that happened naturally, but with a little practice and intention, it became a habit.

Sure, anything can become a habit. “Hello, my name is Anna and I’m a wombat” could just as easily become a habit, but that doesn’t make it a sensible thing to say unless you’re joking.

And where’s the civil liberty? Whose civil liberty is being fostered here? Is it a civil liberty to be called by a customized (i.e. inaccurate) pronoun? It is not.

As an Organizer with the ACLU of Northern California, I spend much of my time advocating for schools that are welcoming and inclusive to transgender students. Part of that advocacy includes talking to people about gender, and educating people about transgender issues.

That’s not much about civil liberties either. Maybe a little bit, in that people can’t exercise their civil liberties if they’re being bullied or abused, but the ever-expanding claims about what it takes to make schools and everywhere else “welcoming and inclusive to transgender students” are more in conflict with civil liberties than they are protective of them. Women, in particular, are being ordered to give up a lot of civil liberties in order to be “welcoming and inclusive” to our trans sisters, i.e. men.

All people are impacted by gender and have identities that need to be affirmed and respected, but many cisgender people do not need to worry about having our gender identities recognized. We have the privilege of not having to think much about our gender or about people respecting our names and pronouns.

We also have the “privilege” of not having to think much about our species or about people thinking we’re tigers or naked mole rats or fruit flies. It’s a novel idea that there’s such a thing as “gender identity” and that everyone has it and that some tragic people have an opposite one and we have to rearrange all of life to make them feel more cozy – a novel idea and a batshit crazy one.

That is not the case for many gender nonconforming and transgender folks. Many transgender people fight on a daily basis to have their names and pronouns respected, which is no small or trivial feat. Names and pronouns shape how we are viewed in the world and are important pieces of our identities.

Where are the civil liberties? All this explaining and still not a word about them. It’s not a civil liberty to force the world to “validate” personal fantasies. If you’re trying to force people to “validate” personal fantasies you’re coming perilously close to trying to impose a theocracy. We don’t have to “validate” fantasy genders any more than we have to “validate” the father the son and the holy ghost.

The ACLU appears to have completely lost the plot.

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