I received a polite request from someone that I should use non-gendered pronouns throughout my public content.
It was a very civil conversation and without going into too much detail, the person requesting that I do this identifies as ‘they/them’ and explained to me that the very concept of gender was alien and meaningless to them.
Which is all well and fine, except apparently it was not just that I should use gender-neutral terms in reference to them, or to people whose gender identification is unknown to me, but they would prefer that I should just use them all the time, and that even in reference to specific individuals who already have an established specific gender identity that is known.
For example the late Paul Eddington (star of the sitcom Yes Minister) is quoted as saying "A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be, ’ He did very little harm ’ ".
In describing the above, I don’t think it makes any sense for me, in 2020, to now say:
A journalist once asked Paul Eddington what they would like their epitaph to be, and they replied ‘They did very little harm’
And yet, this is what is sometimes being requested of me. Now, I’m getting old and possibly stuck in my ways, so it’s possible that I am just being an insensitive idiot - which is kind of why I am making this thread in the first place.
I get that people would prefer to be referred to in specific terms, and that seems a reasonable thing to do.
I also appreciate that our language and culture has a significant weight of gendered-language baggage (and this actually makes the use of non-gendered pronouns kind of awkward), but if there’s a non-awkward way to neutrally refer to a person whose gender identification is unknown, sure, we should try to use it.
But the idea that this should extend to cases where there is a known preference that is specifically gendered - heck, let’s make this personal; I would prefer people refer to me as he/him - it seems almost like a sort of revisionism to try to override that with neutral terms.
Is this a thing? Am I being unreasonable? What’s the solution?