An article was brought to my attention recently and the beginning sentence, which caused much intellectually stimulation was “Transgender Revolution at War with the English Language.” Someone who is not aware of the sexual revolution taking place in our culture may indeed find this statement peculiar but in reality, it is not. There is indeed a war going on between the Transgender Revolution and the English Language. But how so?
The Transgender movement or The Transgender rights movement is at its core a civil rights movement which seeks to promote and push for equal rights to transgender people. It is also determined to eradicate any forms of discrimination toward those who identify as transgender. In order for this movement to achieve its goals, there are societal, cultural and ethical structures that need to be destroyed and rebuild. For instance, one of the major societal barriers that faced the transgender movement was the worldwide consensus that gender is binary, that is a person is either male or female. Note that I stated ‘was’ in the latter sentence, and that’s because transgender activists, in pushing for a non-binary conception of gender have pretty much achieved that. A simple look at the gender options on various websites is a proof of that. Back in 2014, an article appeared in the Telegraph which reported that Facebook has 71 gender options. Rhiannon Williams who wrote this article stated that “UK Facebook users can now choose from one of 71 gender options, including asexual, polygender and two-spirit person,…” But what are the implications of this?
What the transgender movement has perhaps missed is that gender is associated with concrete features in a society i.e. language. The conflict between the transgender movement and language becomes evident when we look at the associations and attachments that gender has in the aspect of a society. For instance, gender is referential to which toilet you use or which clothes you wear. However, those implications are seen as stereotypes which must, therefore, be done away with, in a secular society.
Concerning language, the issue that the transgender movement faces is with regard to pronouns. Pronouns are associated with one’s gender and since there are only two genders, at least traditionally accepted to be two based on biological facts, society has only recognized ‘He and ‘She’ as gender pronouns. Hence as the numbers of alleged genders are being made up, thus new pronouns must be thought of as well.
However there is a bigger problem, and that is, language, in this case, gender pronouns such as ‘He’ and ‘She,’ are rooted and grounded in basic biological facts. Biological absolutes are adhered to and acknowledge by everyone. Furthermore, we all acknowledge that there are biological differences between a man and a woman, hence the use of different pronouns. Although we must acknowledge that language indeed undergoes changes in order to accommodate to the current cultural climate, however, basic biological absolutes are not subject to change irrespective of the era one lives in. Hence, gender pronouns which are referential to unchanging biological facts pose a problem to the transgender activists. SOHRAB AHMARI, writing for the ‘Commentary Magazine’ writes in his piece, “Unfortunately for these activists [advocates of the overturning of gender binary], the gender binary is built into the structure of English, with its gender-specific pronouns and many gendered expressions.”
In the final analysis, we must retain that, basic biological facts about man and woman are absolute and not subject to change. They are the basis of gendered pronouns. Introducing pronouns such as ‘Ze’ or ‘Zir’ do not have a basis in biology but in one own thought up, subjective reality. Writing on the recent news concerning the Associated Press accommodating to the transgender movement thus changing their writing styles, Sohrab Ahmari ends his article with these words “The AP’s [Associated Press’] new style rules won’t change a reality which is written into human nature, and which men and women people have encountered since time immemorial.” If the transgender revolution wants to win this war against the English language, it has to change reality which, to remind you, cannot be changed.