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Trans Activist: Using Pronouns That Align With Biology Is Just Like Saying The N-Word


ThinkProgress’s Zack Ford thinks using pronouns that align with a trans person’s biological sex is like calling an African-American the n-word.


ThinkProgress’s Zack Ford thinks using pronouns that align with a trans person’s biological sex is like calling an African-American the n-word.

Yes, he really said that.

So how did we get here? Yesterday, The Federalist’s David Marcus wrote an article critiquing media coverage of a transgender Democratic candidate who’s challenging Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) for his Senate seat. Marcus pointed out that the real reason Vice News featured Misty Snow, a grocery store clerk who’s currently polling 39 points behind Lee, was because he’s calling himself a woman.

Marcus also criticized Vice News for calling Snow’s bid “historic.” If Snow is really a woman, then what exactly is groundbreaking about his candidacy? There are already women in the Senate. So what barriers is Snow breaking? Enter Ford.

His answer to Marcus’s question is confusing, right? Just wait.




In classic Zack Ford form, he accuses Marcus of not being sciencey enough to understand “reality” — that men can call themselves women and be considered fully female, but also still be recognized as trans, or  a qualified kind of woman.

Okay, so let’s unpack what’s wrong with this analogy. Using proper pronouns is not something that should be considered “offensive” or disciplined in the workplace (or anywhere else). This is so primarily because pronouns are typically gendered in human language and have been for millennia because they refer to the underlying biological reality. Not just human beings but nearly all mammals have a solely binary system of sex: male and female. Anything besides male or female in human beings is a genetic disorder, a distortion (and anomaly) of the existing binary system of sexes, and not a third sex.

Furthermore, using pronouns according to a person’s sex is nothing like calling someone the n-word. They’re a term used to describe a biological fact — someone born with XY chromosomes is a man, and is consequently referred to distinctly as “he” or “him.” Someone who is born with XX chromosomes is scientifically a woman and is also referred to distinctly as “she” or “her.

I do believe there’s something to be said for being gracious to those around us. If I were to get lunch with Caitlyn Jenner, I wouldn’t go out of my way to remind him that he’s really a he. I would treat him as I would want to be treated — with grace and respect.

However, he is not a woman like me. He wasn’t born with XX chromosomes, nor has he gone through puberty to grow into woman. This is a major difference between us, and pretending otherwise is a disservice to both sexes. As a woman, I shouldn’t be forced to call someone who is not a woman a “woman” just because a man at ThinkProgress says so.

This isn’t the first time Ford has tried to mansplain what being a woman is. In April, he insisted that having long hair and accessories are what make someone a woman. Not only is he wrong, his assertion is offensive. Being a woman isn’t a flimsy social construct defined by aspects of my outward appearance or fashion choices. It’s immutable. I was born that way, and it shaped the way others viewed me — first as a girl, then later as a woman. It influenced what I thought about myself and how I saw the world around me. Reducing my experience to interchangeable items like hairstyles and accessories is a slap in the face.