Pronoun prescription in Canada

“Few Canadians realize how seriously these statutes infringe upon freedom of speech. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has stated, in the context of equivalent provisions in the Ontario Human Rights Code, that ‘refusing to refer to a trans person by their chosen name and a personal pronoun that matches their gender identity … will likely be discrimination when it takes place in a social area covered by the Code, including employment, housing and services like education.'” [Bruce Pardy, National Post] We noted the New York City Human Rights Commission’s similar guidance last year.


  • In most job settings and schools, one is surrounded by people only casually known to you. You don’t even know their names. How can one know their pronouns (which are only used when the person is absent–he, she are not said when the person is present usually)?
    The correct issue should be titles of address: Mr. Mrs, Miss, Ms. After 50 yrs of “Ms” pronounced “Mizz”, how many people can remember to use Ms? Often we don’t even know if the person is married or not. There have not been any new titles of address suggested in all this nuttiness so if I want to introduce someone it is either Mr. or Ms. So it all boils down to if the trans person if going to be a jerk. I don’t hang out near gay bars or bus stations so only a couple of times in my life have I been sure I was encountering a trans person–but pre-op. Once I knew from gossip a person had transitioned but would have just thought he (now she, age 53) was a very ugly woman if I hadn’t heard about it.This entire legislation assumes knowledge that one almost never has.

    • Wait. In your imagination, you think trans people are primarily found at gay bars and bus stations?

      • Ok, wherever it is. In suburbia I have never seen someone who I could tell was trans. Hard to persecute them if you can’t identify them. I’ve never had information given to me that a person was trans except as noted above. I’m 64 so either I’m pretty oblivious or the condition is rare.

    • Please don’t conflate “trans” people with run-of-the-mill homosexuals. If it were up to me, there would be no “BTQ” in “LGBTQ”.

      The “trans” movement has nothing to do with the gay community.

      The real victim here are the people who are truly, medically, born “intersexed.” It happens–for example see .

  • Control the language of the discussion and you control the discussion.


  • There are rules of grammar so hard-wired in my mind that it would be difficult to oppose them. I can’t naturally use “they” for singular without a lot of effort. (Yes, I know that proper usage has flipped back and forth over the long history of English usage, but I learned “they/their” as plural pronouns.)

    I will make a good effort to use he or she if someone expresses a preference, but it causes strain for me to use “they” as singular, or made-up words like xim, xer, xit, etc. It would be crazy to punish me for going against my brain’s grammatical wiring. And if I’m talking about an unknown person (e.g., “To each his own.”) I wouldn’t ever consider saying something like “To each their [sic] own,” preferring to use the established English convention of “him” covering both sexes.

    If I’m ever in a jurisdiction where this could get me sued, I’d prefer to be mute.

    • “I’d prefer to be mute…”

      That is what they are hoping for.

  • Government should not control language.

  • I am sorry to say this but for some reason when I read the title and the OP, I thought of the classic Bugs Bunny / Daffy Duck cartoon with the line, “Aha! That’s it! Hold it right there……Pronoun trouble.”

    (approx 33 second mark.)

  • First they control the pronoun, then they’ll control the adjectives. But until then ….

  • What continues to puzzle me is that the unique pronouns all being devised are third-person. In other words, the pronouns these dysphoria sufferers so desperately want me to use of them … are ones I should grammatically never actually use to them, and only use in their hearing if I am discussing them, while they are present, with a third party.

    This was something old-style manners and etiquette used to say should only be done under particular circumstances, because it is otherwise rude to talk about someone as if they were not there when they are — or, alternately, entirely too likely to give the person a swelled head by virtue of being talked about.