Mercy Muroki: Pronouns are a personal matter - not a matter to be enforced on everybody else
If I am ever told to state my pronouns I will have to decline
Marks and Spencer has become the latest British institution to succumb to the pressures of the gender identity lobby, by giving pronoun badges to staff so members of the public know how to address them properly.
We're all of course familiar with the pronouns 'he/him', 'she/her' … But a whole new host of pronouns have emerged in recent years, created by people who don't wish to be referred to as either male or female, who identify as gender-neutral.
These include 'ze', 'xhi', 'zim', 'sie'… and so on and so forth.
It's not clear what the penalty is for not learning new pronouns – presumably being labelled transphobic, and being reported to the police for committing a hate crime.
But M&S is no pioneer in this respect, companies the country over are encouraging staff to adopt gender-neutral language and to refer to people by the pronouns of their choice.
Even our very own Ministry of Defence, the supposed HQ of British military might – which spent nearly £40 billion of tax-payers money over last year - has jumped onto the bandwagon.
Just a couple of days ago it was revealed that Ministry of Defence officials have been told to state their preferred gender pronouns in meetings, and have been issued with inclusive language guidance which warns against the use of the word 'female' in case it is offensive to gender non conforming people or the trans community.
My position is this – people can refer to themselves as whatever they please. If people want to PERSONALLY identify as non-binary, or genderfluid – it's perfectly right that they should be allowed to do so.
If people want to PERSONALLY identify as men when they're born women, or vice versa, again, that's a personal matter for them. But that's exactly what it is – a personal matter. Not a matter to be enforced on everybody else.
If I am ever told to state my pronouns in the beginning of a meeting, or forced to use a whole range of alien, alternative words I know full well make no grammatical sense and that I'm supposedly not allowed to question. I will have to kindly decline, thank you. I'm simply not doing it. Not because I'm transphobic – I'm neither scared of nor hateful of transgender people. And not because I don't recognise gender-neutral people are human beings with civil rights. I do. I just don't recognise the ideological framework which forces people to believe in the supremacy of gender identity over biological fact. And I certainly don't recognise the legitimacy of any ideological framework that seeks to police my use of language.
The prolific Professor Jordan Peterson - clinical psychologist, professor of psychology, and philosopher - put it succinctly when a hate campaign was launched against him for refusing to be forced into using gender-neutral language at his university.
He said: "I've studied authoritarianism for a very long time - for 40 years - and it starts by people attempting to control the ideological and linguistic territory
"There's no way I'm going to use words made up by people who are doing that - not a chance."
And I'd be inclined to agree.
If others want to state their pronouns – I respect their right to do so.
And they too should respect my right to uphold my own framework of beliefs.