The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Pronouns are not determined by biology

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In his June 9 op-ed, “The pronoun police raid a middle school,” George F. Will seemed to believe there is such a thing as a “biologically correct pronoun.” He was in error. Pronouns are not biologically determined. The correct pronoun is always the one most appropriate to the occasion. In the English-speaking world, ships are “she”; in Russia, ships use masculine pronouns. In an educational or workplace context, the correct pronoun is the one that does not create a hostile learning or working environment. In his eagerness to suggest those wishing to invalidate transgender people should have the opportunity to do so with every passing reference, George F. Will invited bullies to make every educational environment hostile for every trans person.

As much as I wish George F. Will would decide against publishing such bad takes, George F. Will has a First Amendment right to publish op-eds invalidating my experience as a trans person and defending bullies in any newspaper that will take them. That right should not extend to every mention of me in my school or workplace; that would be harassment. It would indeed be harassment regarding my sex — or sexual harassment, for short.

Naomi Seyfer, Oakland, Calif.

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