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New York City Will Fine You For Not Calling People ‘Ze’ or ‘Hir’

It’s rapidly getting to the point where Americans will simply go mute.

According to legal guidance from the Mayor Bill de Blasio’s New York City Commission on Human Rights, if you don’t address another person by their chosen appellation, you could suffer “civil penalties up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct.”

Here’s some of the language the commission used to threaten free speech:

The NYCHRL [New York City Human Rights Law] requires employers[, landlords, and all businesses and professionals] to use an [employee’s, tenant’s, customer’s, or client’s] preferred name, pronoun and title (e.g., Ms./Mrs.) regardless of the individual’s sex assigned at birth, anatomy, gender, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on the individual’s identification.

Most individuals and many transgender people use female or male pronouns and titles. Some transgender and gender non-conforming people prefer to use pronouns other than he/him/his or she/her/hers, such as they/them/theirs or ze/hir. [Footnote: Ze and hir are popular gender-free pronouns preferred by some transgender and/or gender non-conforming individuals.] …

Examples of Violations

a. Intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title. For example, repeatedly calling a transgender woman “him” or “Mr.” after she has made clear which pronouns and title she uses …

Covered entities may avoid violations of the NYCHRL by creating a policy of asking everyone what their preferred gender pronoun is so that no individual is singled out for such questions and by updating their systems to allow all individuals to self-identify their names and genders. They should not limit the options for identification to male and female only.

As UCLA Professor Eugene Volokh notes in The Washington Post:

So people can basically force us — on pain of massive legal liability — to say what they want us to say, whether or not we want to endorse the political message associated with that term, and whether or not we think it’s a lie … We have to call people “him” and “her” even if we believe that people’s genders are determined by their biological sex and not by their self-perceptions — perceptions that, by the way, can rapidly change, for those who are “gender-fluid” — and that using terms tied to self-perception is basically a lie.

Volokh points out that the City’s claim that the “refusal to use a transgender employee’s preferred name, pronoun, or title may constitute unlawful gender-based harassment” carries grace consequences:

The label “harassment” is important here because harassment law requires employers and businesses to prevent harassment by co-workers and patrons and not just by themselves or their own employees; this is particularly well established for harassment by co-workers, but it has also been accepted for harassment by fellow patrons.

Volokh delineates just how ridiculous the new laws are, writing:

What if some people insist that their title is “Milord,” or “Your Holiness”? They may look like non-gender-related titles, but who’s to say? What if someone decides that one of the 56 genders is indeed especially noble or holy and that those really are the preferred gender terms?

Volokh outlines the sinister applications that may be in store for the nation, adding:

The same logic would be easily applicable by jurisdictions that have gender identity discrimination bans, or will have such bans; the federal government is taking the view that existing federal bans on sex discrimination also in effect ban gender identity discrimination, and the New York analysis would equally apply to that view; and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has already taken the view that it is illegal under federal law to persistently call employees by pronouns that correspond to their anatomical sex but not their gender identity.

In early May, the city’s Human Rights Commission ordered bars to serve alcohol to pregnant women if they requested it.

 
 
 

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