WALSH: You Get Your Own Name. It Can Be Whatever You Want. But You Don’t Get Your Own Pronouns.

rainbow flag
Charlie Nguyen Photography via Getty Images

Twitter informs me that today, October 16, is a Holy Day of Observation known as Pronouns Day. Following the sacred traditions of our ancestors, Pronouns Day provides the LGBT crew with yet another opportunity to lecture the world about how we are all supposed to think, speak, and behave. That is a very good thing because they did not get enough of a chance on International Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31), Lesbian Visibility Day (April 26), International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (May 17), Harvey Milk Day (May 22), Pansexual and Panromantic Visibility Day (May 24), Pride Month (June), Bisexuality Day (September 23), Bisexual Awareness Week (September 23 – September 30), National Coming Out Day (October 11), National LGBT Center Awareness Day (October 19), Spirit Day (October 20), Intersex Awareness Day (October 26), Asexual Awareness Week (October 23 – 29), Transgender Day Of Remembrance (November 20), Pansexual/Panromantic Pride Day (December 8), and Transgender Trisexual Tricyclists on Trampolines Awareness Day (December 19). I only made one of those up. The point is, LGBT folks apparently need a lot of days dedicated to themselves, and that is where Pronouns Day comes in.

At first blush, it may seem odd to have a day set aside for a grammatical construct. Why not a Verb Day or an Adjective Day or a Preposition Day? Well, I’m sure we’re headed in that direction, as the English language becomes more and more subjectivized and people are increasingly encouraged to make up their own grammatical rules as they go. Besides, it might take a whole day to learn all of the wacky and wild new pronouns that have been invented out of whole cloth in recent years. The ever-growing list includes such gobbledygook as “ze,” “hir,” “xemself,” “ver,” “xyrs,” “perself,” “(f)aerself,” “xem,” “xex,” and “zelfself.” I made two of those up but you can’t tell which ones, and that’s the point. None of these are words. They are just random letters and sounds blended into a linguistic frappe. We now live in a culture where a sentence like the following is supposed to mean something: “Ve went to the store with per and met xem and ze got into xyr car and drove home.” You have no idea what I was just conveying there, and neither do I. Mainly because I was speaking gibberish.

This is the problem with the whole idea of people claiming their own pronouns. A pronoun, again, is a grammatical construct. It must be deployed according to the laws of grammar, not the fickle whims of the individual to whom it refers. If I am standing on a table, and you want to communicate to someone else about the fact that I am standing on the table, you will say “he is standing on the table.” It would be grammatically incorrect to say “she is standing on the table,” as “she” denotes a human female, which I am not. It would also be incorrect to say “they are standing on the table,” as that indicates more than one person on the table, which there is not. And it would be incorrect to say “xe is standing on the table,” as that suggests that there is some sort of space alien on the table, which there is not.

In a similar way, if I am standing on a table and I insist that my preferred preposition is “off,” it would make no sense for you to respect my preferences and tell everyone that I am standing off the table. I may prefer the word off — whatever it means to prefer a certain word to another — but that doesn’t change the objective fact that I am indeed on the table. Prepositions, nouns, verbs, and pronouns are meant to convey objective facts about reality. If they are not going to perform that function, then they no longer perform any function at all. And meaningful, useful words have been reduced to impotent nonsense.

But shouldn’t we just be polite and call people by their preferred pronouns, anyway?

Answer: No. And here’s why.


First, you don’t generally call someone a pronoun when you’re speaking to them. If you want to address a person directly, you use his or her name. And a name can be whatever you want it to be. If a woman says her name is Fred, or a man says his name is Sally, I will call her Fred and him Sally. Names are, by definition, personal and basically arbitrary. Pronouns are more objective and also, generally, more distant. You are usually called by a pronoun when you are not physically present for the discussion. So when someone insists on a preferred pronoun, he/she is trying to prevent you from using proper grammar even when he/she is not in the room with you. He/she is essentially saying, “Whenever you refer to me, even if I am 10 thousand miles away, you must abandon the rules of grammar and parrot whatever nonsense I assign to you.” That’s not only absurd — it’s also arrogant in the extreme.

Second, using an incorrect pronoun (incorrect as in a pronoun that does not properly convey objective reality) is not only nonsensical but also dishonest. If I say “she did this and that” when I really mean “he did this and that,” I am lying. I may be lying with the best intentions, but a lie is a lie.

But doesn’t grammar and language evolve over time?

Yes, it does. However, language evolves according to coherent rules and standards. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about people making up their own rules individually, which isn’t evolution, but devolution and collapse. Language is being destroyed, not simply changed or modified, by LGBT activists.

Besides, we aren’t talking merely about changes in language. If we all decide to start using the word “xem” instead of “him,” fine. It seems a little weird and Dr. Seuss-y to me, but there is no reason why the word “him” has to always be “him.” Different languages have their own words for “him.” And sometimes those words change. That’s okay. But the LGBT lobby isn’t asking us to exchange one word for another. Rather, the lobby is asking (demanding) that we pretend to believe in entire new categories of human existence.

“Xem” isn’t a new word for “him.” “Xem” is supposed to be a completely separate sort of person — neither a her nor a him. But nobody can even begin to explain what a “xem” is, exactly, and how it differs from her or him. They only say “some people identify as xem.” But identify as what? What is that? What does it mean to identify as that? Tell me about the experience of discovering that you are a xem. What does a xem do differently? What are the biological markers of a xem? And how does a xem differ from a xyr or a zer or a vim or a dabbadabbadoodlefim? It is one thing for me to suggest that we start calling elephants “shmelephants” from now on. It is another thing for me to insist that there are separate creatures called “shmelephants” who are entirely distinct from elephants. We have moved now from language to biology, and I am going to have to provide some kind of proof that these mythical shmelephants exist and are indeed different from elephants.

Nobody can provide any proof for any of these claims or any coherent answers to any of the questions I have posed. We are supposed to just accept their assertions, however incoherent, and timidly cooperate as they mutilate our language and make nonsense out of everything. But I am not willing to provide my cooperation. And I make no apologies for that.