The Daily Aztec

We shouldn’t assume gender neutrality

However, I will not assume gender neutrality and will continue to utilize he/him/she/her until I know otherwise.

by Hannah Goldstone, Staff Writer

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I want to make it clear that I am coming from a middle-class background, I am a heterosexual cis-gendered female, and this is my outsider opinion:

I respect gender neutrality.

I respect using the preferred pronouns that align with one’s identity.

I respect all people because we are all human beings who deserve dignity.

However, I will not assume gender neutrality and will continue to utilize he/him/she/her until I know otherwise.

As of 2019, many aspects of society have become more accepting and acknowledging of gender neutrality by using they/them pronouns. There are many more public gender-neutral restrooms and less gender-norm objects when it comes to toys or clothes.

I am very happy to see society moving forward.

However, it may be my unpopular opinion when I say that I don’t believe we should assume gender fluidity or neutrality when addressing people.

In class, we are reading Freud and he refers to the human race as “he” and “his.”

My professor makes us say “they” and “them” when we are reading the text out loud.

I understand that he means to be including and correctly refer to us a race and not all “men,” but I don’t think that people should get so offended by that.

I don’t mind that Freud says “he” and “his” because I know that that is just a trivial detail that made sense given the historical context.

It shouldn’t have that much meaning to people.

Likewise, I will not stop saying “you guys” or “hey guys” because it is burned into my vocabulary and people shouldn’t be so sensitive about that.

I don’t think I know a single person who personally gets offended by the phrase “you guys,” but that doesn’t stop them from posting about ending that practice on social media.

Some professors have even addressed their attempts to stop using phrases that assume an individual’s gender identity.

Meanwhile, I’m over here thinking, how many people are really getting bothered by that?

It can’t be that many.

I don’t mean to say that the minority’s feelings should be ignored because they are the minority. I am saying that most people do identify with the pronouns that you would assume they do based on physical looks.

I know you can’t always judge a book by its cover, but I would get bothered if you were to assume that I do not identify as female. I don’t want to be referred to as “they/them” just because you want to be politically correct.

At the end of the day, I believe that it is right to ask people what their pronoun preferences are but that you also shouldn’t be so offended if people assume based on physical appearance.

Human beings are evolutionarily programmed to judge based on physical appearance.

Social changes like this take people time to adapt to.

People get so offended and hurt when others make mistakes whether that be in regards to racial, sexual or gender identity.

Just think back in history when it was so difficult to be accepted as gay. Being homosexual was thought of as a mental disease. Those people couldn’t just correct others when they mistakenly labeled them, instead, they would be sent to jail or an asylum.

The LGBTQ community knew that it would take time and hard work for society to get accustomed to such a change in thought.

In no way do I intend to invalidate people’s feelings.

I understand that those feelings and opinions are real and worth something, I just think that you should reevaluate them.

If I accidentally use the wrong pronoun before I get the chance to ask or explain, then they should just politely correct me and life goes on.

I will then be happy to use their preferred pronoun.

But I will not assume that they want to be referred to as “they/them” and neither should you.

In my opinion, that’s just as bad as using the wrong pronoun altogether.

At the end of the day, you should assume that people will assume. Be mature about it.

Change takes time.

People learn by making mistakes.

Hannah Goldstone is a junior studying sociology.

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5 Comments

5 Responses to “We shouldn’t assume gender neutrality”

  1. Ethan on March 13th, 2019 9:04 am

    Wow this is terribly offensive. Cis people should not be allowed to write things like this and get published. Shame on you for perpetuating transphobic narratives, you could have easily asked an actual trans person their opinion and not spoken over our community. Please get out of the sociology field if you are not going to act as an ally.

  2. Seth on March 13th, 2019 10:44 pm

    You complain about gender neutral terms because you don’t want to be referred to as something other then your gender, so imagine how it feels for trans people who get misgendered all the time. One second of your discomfort to tell someone she pronouns shouldn’t be too hard of a thing when it means that so many other people would feel better about themselves because you didn’t assume their gender when referring to them. It’s not hard to say they or even to get referred to as they, if you’re comfortable in your gender identity it really shouldn’t matter to you

  3. MacPhee Gordon on March 14th, 2019 12:26 am

    My entirely life was based on my looks. I was referred in male pronouns and was biologically a female. If “they/them” had be used I would have felt better about myself. Also, remember they/them can be used in a singular form.
    No one deserves to be judged on their looks. It is very important to realize who they are as individuals.

    MacPhee Gordon

  4. j on March 14th, 2019 12:59 am

    if youre cis PLEASE consult trans/nonbinary people before spewing off ignorant cisnormative garbage like this. you claim you dont mean to offend but you are absolutely doing the exact opposite. educate yourself before you open your mouth.

  5. Liat on March 16th, 2019 3:11 pm

    Hannah, you aren’t the only person with this opinion so I hope my comment to you speaks to others as well. Yes it takes time for culture to change, and we are in the midst of it now. Your letter speaks to the discomfort of being someone who is cisgender while trans and nonbinary people’s needs are becoming centered. You don’t enjoy having people default to an incorrect pronoun for you, and frankly I don’t either. The difference in our experiences is that your identity is supported institutionally in culture and law (the white house isn’t trying to write you out of existence, laws and documents include your pronouns, people know how to correctly use them, nobody questions your right to your pronouns, people correctly guess which ones you use, etc.) whereas I’m genderqueer and have to encounter opposition every day over something as basic as respect for my existence. In order to create a world that has space for me (and the ~2% of people who are trans and nonbinary) it’s going to mean that cisgender people give up a little control over how things work. That’s uncomfortable but it doesn’t harm y’all the way my community is currently being harassed, discriminated against, and murdered. (Oh and for context, Jews are about 2% of the population.)

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