AP Joins the 'Semantically Committed Cadre' of Media Outlets That Champion Shredding 'He' and 'She' Terms

In June, libertine-left promoter-slash-reporter Lisa Leff of the Associated Press championed incorrect gender information on driver’s licenses on behalf of the “gender-fluid.” As November ended, Leff was the latest reporter to promote colleges that are dropping archaic pronouns like “he” and “she” for that same cause.

The headline on Yahoo was “'Preferred' pronouns gain traction at US colleges.” A group called Mouthing Off! at Mills College, a women’s institution in Oakland, was the linguistic laboratory for the new ideology making way for more “generous” notions of gender. AP found no space at all for interviews with common-sense critics:

Yet increasingly, the "shes" and "hers" that dominate the introductions are keeping third-person company with "they," ''ze" and other neutral alternatives meant to convey a more generous notion of gender.

"Because I go to an all-women's college, a lot of people are like, 'If you don't identify as a woman, how did you get in?'" said sophomore Skylar Crownover, 19, who is president of Mouthing Off! and prefers to be mentioned as a singular they, but also answers to he. "I just tell them the application asks you to mark your sex and I did. It didn't ask me for my gender."

On high school and college campuses and in certain political and social media circles, the growing visibility of a small, but semantically committed cadre of young people who, like Crownover, self-identify as "genderqueer" — neither male nor female but an androgynous hybrid or rejection of both — is challenging anew the limits of Western comprehension and the English language.

'Though still in search of mainstream acceptance, students and staff members who describe themselves in terms such as agender, bigender, third gender or gender-fluid are requesting — and sometimes finding — linguistic recognition.

Inviting students to state their preferred gender pronouns, known as PGPs for short, and encouraging classmates to use unfamiliar ones such as "ze,'''sie," ''e," ''ou" and "ve" has become an accepted back-to-school practice for professors, dorm advisers, club sponsors, workshop leaders and health care providers at several schools....

At Mills, the changes have includedtweaking some long-standing traditions. New students are now called "first-years" instead of "freshwomen." The student government also has edited the college's historic chant — "Strong women! Proud women! All women! Mills women!" to "Strong, Proud, All, Mills!"

The closest thing to opposition is Lucy Ferriss, a "writer in residence" at Trinity College in Connecticut, who reported “some professors have expressed annoyance and uncertainty about how to respond,” and  “The people I know who teach will say 'This is weird and it's cumbersome and it's not going to last because it's not organic.'"

That’s it: it’s a weird fad.

Of course, Ferriss tells AP it's a mistake to dismiss the trend without considering “whether English and society might be served by less-rigid ideas about gender.”


Ferriss argued "Mail carrier did not evolve organically and it's a lot easier to say mailman. Decades ago there were poets who refused to be called poetesses," she said. "Most language has evolved organically, but there have been times — and when it comes to issues of gender there probably have to be times — when there are people willing to push the envelope."

Leff ended the story with another pro-PC source, Mel Goodwin of a gay and lesbian center in Las Vegas, who said “he had to unlearn what he was taught” about that pesky gender binary:  

Yet when people object to they as being grammatically incorrect, Goodwin counters that modern English is to blame and that scholars, writers and linguists have spent more than a century trying to come up with gender-neutral pronouns that stick. In public presentations, Goodwin also refers to a map that shows historic and contemporary cultures around the world that have recognized more than two genders.

This is not about young people in the U.S. over the last 20 years kind of coming out of the woodwork and making up labels that aren't real," Goodwin said. "This is a real variation among humans, period."

[HT: Tom Blumer]

Earlier media reports taking up this "progressive" crusade:

Trans Posing: NPR Explores The Need to 'Loosen the Reins of Gender Expression'

WashPost Crusades for 'Preferred Gender Pronouns' on Campus, Gender in 'Technicolor'

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis