It's fair to conclude that when an article's title carries the preface "don't laugh," what follows could easily be ridiculed. Lauren R. Taylor's Tuesday online blog item for the Washington Post certainly fits that bill, as the title continued that she has "a serious reason for raising my cats gender-neutral." Taylor revealed how she once accidentally called her two female cats "boys," and used this mistake as a jumping-off point to start regularly using "gender-neutral language for the humans in my life."
The part-time editor for the liberal newspaper led with her pronoun trouble towards her cats. She conceded that it was "an understandable mistake, as I’ve had cats for about 50 years, and all of them have been male." She initially thought that she was going to "work on using the right pronouns," but soon changed her mind:
Why? They're cats. That's when I decided to raise my cats to be gender neutral.
The cats' lives wouldn't change, I reasoned, and it would help me learn to use plural pronouns for my friends, neighbors and colleagues who individually go by they, their and them. Even though using they, them and their as singular pronouns grates on many people because it's grammatically incorrect, it seems to be the most popular solution to the question of how to identify people without requiring them to conform to the gender binary of female and male....
Around the house, with just me, Essence and Trouble...things were pretty easy. I'd make a mistake (called "misgendering"), saying something like "Where's your brother?" (Yes, I talk to my cats.) Usually, I'd remember to fix it ("Where's your sibling?” or "Where's your pal?"). Just as I'd hoped, I began finding it easier to remember to use gender-neutral language for the humans in my life.
Taylor continued that she "began to get an infinitesimal taste of what transgender and gender-nonconforming people face. I'm not talking about the outright bigotry and hatred — something I can't know without being in their shoes — but the complete cluelessness."
The Washington Post writer later recounted how one of her cats got sick, and her apparent dilemma of whether or not to "explain their pronouns not only to the vet, but also the front-desk workers, the vet techs, and everyone else we interacted with." She decided to "fall back on my cis-gender privilege (look it up) and used the singular pronoun for Essence." Taylor lamented that it "wouldn't have been so easy if I were the patient — or if Essence were human."
The freelance author made more pro-transgender agenda points as she concluded her account about her sick cat:
While all of this was unfolding, friends would ask me: How is your cat? "They're better" or "The same. The vets don't know what's wrong with them," I'd say. "Wait a minute—are they both sick?" people would reply, confused.
It is confusing. We've had gender drilled into us as part of language since we first heard adults talking when we were infants – decades of "he" and "she."
But at the same time it's necessary. People are coming to understand that not all of us fit into the "girl" box or the "boy" box. Those who don't are claiming space to be who they are. We all need to find ways to acknowledge and respect that. My way of respecting it just happens to be raising my cats gender neutral. You can choose your own.
[H/t: Dana Loesch's Tuesday post on Twitter]