pronouns padme

Don't assume.


The Law Society has received a mixed response to its guide on "how to communicate and use pronouns correctly in the workplace".

It produced the guide to educate lawyers that judging by name or appearance "is not always an accurate method for determining a person’s pronouns", as employees may have opted to use "gender expansive" pronouns such as 'they, them and theirs'.

Its top tip for lawyers is to not use male or female pronouns for a person until it‘s clear how the individual self-identifies. "Try to get into the habit of using ‘they/them’ until you know someone’s pronouns", suggests the guide. "For example: ‘There is someone here to see you. I will ask them to take a seat’".

If lawyers are struggling to establish a person's pronouns, they should speak up, explains the guide, and "Discreetly ask people what their pronouns are, for example: 'Sorry, I didn’t catch your pronouns'".

Lawyers who do know someone's pronouns can help everyone else by deploying them in an introduction, "for example: 'This is Jen, they work in finance. This is Fred, he works in marketing'.

The Law Society said it was "good practice for us to normalise sharing our pronouns", which "helps raise awareness and acceptance of different, including non-binary, gender identities".

When the Law Society tweeted its guide last weekend with the message that "We should all strive to use any & every opportunity to practice [sic] inclusion", over 2,000 people chimed in with their reactions.

The public's response was mixed, boiling down to two ideologically-opposed camps, one of which applauded the Law Society for "being respectful of others, unlike the majority of comments here", while the other suggested, "This has all gone way too far".

The drive for pronouns and gender-neutral language to support non-binary identities has been picked up by law firms including Clifford Chance as a matter of diversity and inclusion, and increasing numbers of businesses, including the professional networking site LinkedIn, have begun providing the option for people to add their pronouns to their profiles and signature blocks.

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Comments

She/her 25 June 21 08:23

Before the usual negative comments (from invariably cis straight people), let me congratulate the Law Society and the firms adopting gender neutral language. It's most certainly a move in the right direction.  

Dearie 25 June 21 08:31

I can’t understand the pronouns business as you never use them when speaking to the person. So if you don’t know you can just say “is Alex a he or a she?”. There are lots of unisex sounding names (Francis / Frances, Alex, Jo, Lyn, Lindsay / Lindsey) so this is nothing new. 

Coleslaw 25 June 21 08:59

Trans and non-binary people are some of the most marginalised people in our society and we should be doing everything we can to include them. It must take enormous strength to get up each day and put up with listening to the rest of world debate their right to be respected.

Anonymous 25 June 21 09:06

Why does everything always have to be about sex?

I like a cup of tea and a bit of The Chase.

Or Desmonds.  Sometimes I watch Desmonds if it's on.  I'm inclusive.

I won't watch Pointless.  He's too tall.  Not surprised though, with his money.

Anonymous 25 June 21 09:22

I’m intrigued to know when the law Society (a stonewall diversity champion) is going to show that it doesn’t discriminate against people with gender critical beliefs, and produce a guide on why people shouldn’t have to display their pronouns or use other people’s pronouns which do not match their sex. 

Ted Maul 25 June 21 09:23

I remember when the Law Society used to bother itself with lobbying government to fight the corner of the profession whilst trying to ensure that standards of good practice were upheld. There was no agenda or remit to indulge in populist political virtue signalling even less, was there a request for it to teach us manners. Somewhere along the way (well, in the last 12 months) it seems that the leadership have found the lure of buying cheap social media likes and shares too much to resist. It seems that the Law Society has become just another eager sycophant that has sold off *their* family silver to buy a ticket for a front seat  on the bandwagon. 

Paul (he/him) 25 June 21 09:34

Don't women sometimes get a bit offended if they think you can't tell them apart from a man?

I just don't have the balls to ask a woman for her pronouns.

 

Anonymous 25 June 21 09:35

The guide should simply say, "Don't worry, they'll be sure to tell you if they're not sex-based."

Anonymous 25 June 21 09:37

Trying to dictate to a large majority of people how they should speak, so as not to potentially offend a small minority of people (based on the former's conceptions of what constitutes "offensive" for the latter) - is this really the best use of the Law Society's time? Or anyone's time?

Let's be honest - the only real reason any profit-driven organisation gets on board with this stuff is for PR.

Anonymous 25 June 21 09:40

"Sorry, I didn't catch your pronouns".

This one small sentence has made me feel utterly dejected about the world my kids and grandkids are going to grow up in.

Dolt 25 June 21 09:42

.... The guide should simply say, "Don't worry, they'll be sure to tell you if they're not sex-based."

.

.

.

And vegan, don't forget they will definitely tell you they're vegan. 

Gobblepig 25 June 21 09:47

It appears that the Law Society considers it has achieved its purpose of "driving excellence in the profession and safeguarding the rule of law", such that it can now occupy its time with this sort of posturing.

In that case, it would be best to close it down and spend the money that it uses on more fruitful things. Like driving excellence in the profession and safeguarding the rule of law. 

Anonymous 25 June 21 10:19

Sometimes people ask what The Law Society does given that the SRA exists.  Now we know.

Anon 25 June 21 10:23

I have a male first name as a surname. I always get emails addressed to Mr …

I can live with it until they persist after they’ve spoken to me on the phone and I have said my first name at the start of the call. I don’t sound like a bloke. 
 

 Nowt like getting a surprise when the other side turn out to be a gender you didn’t expect. 

Ya boy Lesto 25 June 21 10:24

Sirs,

I'm putting it in writing now so that you can call me on it later: by this time next year there will be articles in mainstream news outlets admonishing people for asking other people what their pronouns are. It'll be passé by then, so progressive 'opinion formers' will label it as offensive and move on to the next fad (like they did with 'people of colour' as a phrase).

My money is on someone labelling it a 'microaggression' on the basis that it suggests to transfolk that they have failed to successfully 'pass', and we'll all get a good finger-wagging for asking the question too forcefully or knowingly or something.

Put it in your diaries, call me on it in 2022.

Sincerest regards,

Lord Lester (Beep / Boop / Borp)

Anonymous 25 June 21 10:50

"Nowt like getting a surprise when the other side turn out to be a gender you didn’t expect."

Oh for goodness sake, can we please not let this thread descend into yet another set of lurid descriptions of your Tinder mishaps...

Anonymous 25 June 21 10:57

The problem with this is that asking about pronouns is likely to avoid offending a smaller number of people than it causes you to start offending.

Like, the number of transpeople I will avoid offending by sensitively sounding out whether they prefer he/her/other, is completely dwarfed by the number of women who I will mortally offend as a result of them interpreting my enquiry as a coded way of asking them "are you actually a geezer".

With the best will in the world, it's just not a price worth paying for the sake of an academically tiny number of peoples' feelings about their own self-description.

Anonymous 25 June 21 10:58

anon 25 June 21 10:35

This is old news. Guide goes back to March and has been severely criticised. 

News is now about driving clicks with outrage not providing information.

Get with the program.

Anonymous 25 June 21 11:24

I agree that Dear Sirs can be taken as presumptive, but it is and never has been taken as disrespectful. I see it as no different to starting with a Hello. 

The Dear Sir/Madam approach is also fine. It is not intended to cause offence. It basically shows an indifference to who the reader is. It is an opener. 

I am fully aware of people getting offended about pronouns so I just start all correspondence with Dear [first name] and launch into my boring correspondence. Never had a complaint. 

TheThoughtPoliceAreListening 25 June 21 11:35

Stonewall's diversity championship scheme has been roundly criticised for failing to comply with the law. That the LS is ignoring this is both laughable and frightening. 

Frankly, the LS isn't fit for purpose; it's been throwing at least 51% of its membership under the proverbial bus since the first woman (adult human female) qualified. Repeatedly. 

It's time for the LS to withdraw from the scheme and be honest about its reasons. No mealy-mouthed excuses about it not being cost-effective. Tell the truth: The Stonewall scheme is anti-women,anti-free speech, divisive and empty gesture grandstanding.

Warren 25 June 21 12:05

It takes a bit of work to get used to, but being gender neutral in communications is not actually that hard

melon 25 June 21 12:10

why are we letting children with dumb, narcissistic ideas change the adult world. I don't blame them for trying, they're kids. But why are all these organisations listening. This is so nuts.

https://twitter.com/LabelFreeBrands/status/1408226477326307328?s=20 

Ghandi 25 June 21 12:13

Dear non-binary people: consider having short hair and saying you're still a woman, or wearing frocks and saying you're still a man.

You'll look back and realise it is far cooler (and braver) to smash the stereotype than run away and sneer at everyone 'cis' who's trying to do it.

Not a man 25 June 21 12:22

I'm all for treating transgender people respectfully and with love: the same is true of most of humanity. 

But I'm sorry - if someone took a look at me and asked my pronouns (ie. might I be a man) I would be offended. I've worked hard on these boobs

Anonymous 25 June 21 12:49

It's not hard to be gender neutral in communications. For those working for companies they are used to referring to a corporate entity as they and their. Just adopt it with people. 

Gobblepig 25 June 21 13:32

A propos of nothing, I once sent a pre-action letter of response to a particularly annoying associate with the "Solicitors to the Queen". In setting the letter up on my then-firm's template builder, I forgot to specify "Sir", "Madam" or any other addressee.

As a result, the letter was addressed to "Dear".

As a downside, the gender-neutral/non-"cis" bunch would probably love that, but, as a positive, the letter as a result read incredibly patronisingly (particularly given that the rest of the letter basically said "your client, and its arguments, are of exceedingly low quality" - I should make clear that this particular client was not HRH or any of her family), which plainly infuriated the associate no end. 

cirese 25 June 21 13:44

Everyone should respect how someone identifies. But it would be much easier and practical if we normalised trans/non-binary/non-conforming people disclosing their preferred pronouns upfront.

Ken 25 June 21 15:03

It's no sweat off my back to call people whatever gender they prefer. I think in most situations it's fine to use what pronoun seems obvious to you as long as you're polite and if I'm politely corrected and then use the right gender from then on I don't see what the problem is. I find that we spend so much time discussing this to be more annoying than simply being kind and calling someone a woman if they want to be called a woman (or man). 

Anonymous 25 June 21 15:33

"I think in most situations it's fine to use what pronoun seems obvious to you as long as you're polite and if I'm politely corrected and then use the right gender from then on I don't see what the problem is."

The problem with that is that you are recklessly assuming the gender of transfolk and subjecting them to a daily barrage of misgendering. Just let that sink in.

Imagine how you would feel if every day you were the subject of people constantly calling you the wrong gender? Would you feel better about it just because the constant misgendering was the product of a thousand individual mistakes? 

No. End of.

 

So you need to stop using pronouns until you have politely asked the person you are speaking to which pronouns they would prefer.

Anything else is just heaping further abuse on some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Anonymous 25 June 21 15:34

... and don't moan that 99.99% of the time it's a pointless exercise that will just make you seem like a weirdo. That's just what cis-privileged people say to defend their supremacy.

Lydia 25 June 21 15:42

It's a plural s it will always be wrong. It is the very long winded foreign names that throw me so I am just care neither so say he or she until I know.

Anonymous 25 June 21 16:00

Trans people deserve the same legal rights and protections from discrimination as everyone else, but they need to accept that we live in a world where 99.9% of people are "cis", and our language is naturally going to reflect that. It's not good or bad, just the way things are!

Anonymous 25 June 21 16:09

If gender can be changed by the individual, then shouldn't you ask someone to confirm their pronouns each time you meet them?

Anonymous 25 June 21 16:24

I saw one woman on Twitter explaining that she wears different coloured wrist bands to indicate what pronouns she/they should be called, as it changes day by day.

It is thoroughly depressing to see the law society and firms of the calibre of Clifford chance indulging in this nonsense. And it’s obviously nonsense, to anyone with half a brain. 

Anonymous 25 June 21 16:48

"I saw one woman on Twitter explaining that she wears different coloured wrist bands to indicate what pronouns she/they should be called, as it changes day by day."

Yes, there's a strong sense that the concept of respecting individual identities is being somewhat hijacked by mere attention-seeking narcissism in a lot of these discussions about the self-styled 'gender-fluid'.

Having run out of new hair-dye options, and with people no longer shocked by the declaration of bisexuality, they move on to claiming a series of endlessly convoluted gender identities to keep themselves as the subject of the conversation.

Anonymous 25 June 21 17:00

If you think that calling someone by their wrong gender is not a big deal - try calling a baby girl a baby boy (or vicer versa) and see the reaction from that baby's parents. And it's not even them being misgendered. The fact that people use so widely gender indicating clothes and accessories for babies surely supports the argument that gender is still very important in our society. I don't think we should be too hung up about it but the fact is that people are. 

Ironically, so often the people who dismiss the importance of not misgendering others are the same people who will be lecturing how men and women are different and defending gendered role for them. Either gender is important (and so misgendring is a problem) or it isn't. 

Anonymous 25 June 21 17:05

Where does the law society get ist funding from? Is it compulsory membership for everyone practising law in in the UK?

Anonymous 25 June 21 17:19

"Either gender is important (and so misgendring is a problem) or it isn't."

A false syllogism if ever I saw one.

People think that biological sex is important - which is why parents correct you when you get it wrong about their offspring.

They're rather less fussed by the nebulous concept of 'gender', which in modern day progressive speak seems to have become synonymous with the concept of a 'personal preference about title' and has nothing to do with observable biological fact. 

That's why they can - quite logically - simultaneously hold the view that it's important to call a baby girl a girl, but not be that bothered about accidentally calling a grown man a man when he'd personally prefer to be called a woman.

 

It's blindingly obvious really... unless you're actively trying to confuse yourself for the sake of defending a series of ideas about identity that don't hold up to any logical scrutiny.

Anonymous 25 June 21 18:52

Nice clickbait article by ROF

This type of topic always attracts traffic and comments ("user engagement ").

Ian Davis 25 June 21 21:01

I cannot believe the legal profession has descended into such stupid levels. A man is a man and a woman is a woman. After all, as Germaine Greer said, chopping off a man’s  willie does not make him a woman.

Anonymous 25 June 21 21:49

Any of my external lawyers that say “sorry I didn’t catch your pronouns” to me is coming off the panel. 

Anonymous 25 June 21 22:54

I don’t openly tell people any other protected characteristics, why should I need to tell them my sex, which telling them my pronouns, invariably does?! (It’s fairly obvious in most cases anyway.)

Jen Der 26 June 21 00:14

A pal of mine was defending his, sorry, their, sorry, his first Magistrates’ Court trial many years ago and, as they broke for lunch, asked the Usher how he thought he was getting on.

The Usher offered one piece of advice, which was to try addressing the Chair of the bench as “Madam”, not “Sir”, after lunch.

Does this mean we now address Circuit Bench judges as “Their Honour”? What about in the High Court? “Your Theirship”? Is “Your” pejorative? If so, what? “Their Theirship”?

What a relief that this is all so straightforward.

Anonymous 26 June 21 07:32

The difficulty faced by the social justice industry is it has increasingly abstruse battles to fight if it wants to continue to exist. 

Anonymous 26 June 21 15:48

Anything else is just heaping further abuse on some of the most vulnerable people in society. 

1. Using apparent personal pronouns is not "heaping abuse" on anyone. 

2. Where were you lot to defend the feelings of cis women accidentally called by the wrong pronoun because they eschewed stereotyped conceptions of how women should look? Oh that's right, nowhere - because apparently the only "most vulnerable group" that counts are those born with testicles.

 

 

 

Anonymous 27 June 21 10:01

I remember the 80s when Ken Livingstone was being lambasted by the press and small "c" conservatives  (he used to be a serious, visionary politician) for taking equality and non-discrimination issues seriously.

It seems incredible that such a short time ago people were public fulminating against disabled access to council buildings and fighting for the right to discriminate against men and women who are gay.  

You guys are on the wrong side of history.  Soon, as old farts die off and fluidity of sexuality is taken for granted, it will be considered rude to try to stereotype another person.

Anonymous 27 June 21 11:15

"Sorry, I didn't catch your pronouns", is a genius move in certain negotiation scenarios. Might give it a go.

Henonymous 27 June 21 17:41

Wouldn’t most men (even those that don’t identify as straight - who would possibly be even more offended) get offended if you inquired whether they identified as a man or a woman ? 

Anonymous 28 June 21 08:07

This is who the law society is for https://twitter.com/labelfreebrands/status/1408950225486573574?s=21

Anonymous 28 June 21 12:19

"I remember the 80s when Ken Livingstone was being lambasted by the press and small "c" conservatives"

That's funny, I remember him more for growing into a doddery old loon who couldn't stop talking about Hitler.

Eventually he got too embarrassing for even the Labour Party, which is really saying something where antisemitism is concerned.

Anyway, what's that you were saying about how you and yours were Destiny's chosen people, marching ever onwards to victory on the "Right Side Of History"?

Tony Blair used to love that phrase too, didn't he? What's he up to nowadays?

Do say hi to them both for me when you see them at the Inevitable Winners Party. It'll be a hoot.

Anonymous 28 June 21 19:22

Tony Blair used to love that phrase too, didn't he? What's he up to nowadays?

The whataboutery is strong in this one.

I suppose that's what happens when you get left behind.

The world has moved on m7.  You need to talk to people in their teens and early 20s.  Mind you, you'll have to get past the fact that they will see through you like a mature student at a student night.

Anonymous 28 June 21 20:15

Heh.

It's weird to think about it now but it's true.  Ken's social policies were groundbreaking.  Ken was anti-racist when Margaret Thatcher's government was refusing to sanction South Africa.  He was anti-homophobia when the Tory party was supporting rules forbidding teaching anything about homosexuality.  He was putting disabled ramps in buildings when the government was throwing disabled people on the scrap heap.

All those policies are mainstream now.

Anonymous 29 June 21 15:33

The right side of history will be the side where the rights of one oppressed group are not diluted or subverted by the demands of another without proper discussion between both sides. 

It's funny that so many people are claiming to be part of a more enlightened way of thinking, and yet are automatically decrying opposing views as heresy. You have more in common with the oppressors of history than you realise 

Anonymous 29 June 21 20:37

The right side of history will be the side where the rights of one oppressed group are not diluted or subverted by the demands of another without proper discussion between both sides. 

It's funny that so many people are claiming to be part of a more enlightened way of thinking, and yet are automatically decrying opposing views as heresy. You have more in common with the oppressors of history than you realise 

Yes dear.  Whatever you say.  In your lexicon wishes and dreams mean the same thing as facts so why would anyone bother disagree with you.  I've had more substantial candy floss.

Anonymous 30 June 21 09:28

It's funny to think that nowadays even able-bodied people can request standing desks and private companies will provide special chairs and adjustable desks to people who complain about back pain.

Livingstone was attacked in the papers for insisting that disabled people get access to local government buildings.  Mind you, in the 70s wasn't there a group called the Paedophile Information Exchange that publicly campaigned for the right to have sex with children?  No wonder Saville and Harris and the rest felt confident they could get away with it.

The world has changed a lot since then.  The main issue is women's safety.  Won't be too long before someone suggests putting cameras in women's toilets so that transitioning men can use them.  And some idiot of GB News will say it's a good idea and benefits women.

John Doe 30 June 21 15:19

when I was in the Civil Service I had to ask a woman who was reasonably masculine how she wanted to be addressed.  I still nearly die thinking about it 

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