Women's rights activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull speaks during a “Let Women Speak” rally in opposition to government legislation making it easier for people to self-identify their gender, fearing it would allow sexual predators to gain access to women-only spaces, in Glasgow, Scotland, on Feb. 5, 2023. (Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)


Assenting to a Blanket Rule on Pronoun Use Is to Lose One’s Right to Say Aloud That the Emperor Is Naked

In 2016 and 2019, a violent Scottish thug by the name of Adam Graham raped women he had met online. After being charged, he renamed himself Isla Bryson and assumed feminine lamination (wig, cosmetics, etc.) Graham did not have a gender recognition certificate, but was nevertheless remanded to Scotland’s only women’s prison, Cornton Vale. He was convicted in Glasgow High Court last month.


Nobody was fooled by Graham’s opportune gender epiphany. And yet, reflexively, the media almost invariably used “she/her” pronouns in their coverage of the trial. The Times said that “Bryson” had committed the crimes before “her” transition. Even the conservative Telegraph chose to avoid pronouns altogether by sticking with nouns throughout its account.


More jarring, the legal actors in the trial—apart from the rape victims—assiduously stuck with the female name or pronouns. The jury was told that Graham must be referred to as Isla Bryson, while the prosecutor alleged that “Isla” had used “her penis” to commit a rape.


After his conviction, Graham’s defence lawyer stated that charges against Graham should be dropped because he identifies as a woman: “If you accept that evidence, that she is transitioning, that she is aiming to continue on that path to becoming female gender, that goes a long way to acquitting her of these charges.” (“Acquitting”? This is crazy talk. Surely even the most obtuse lawyer would understand that if this strain of logic were to set a legal defence precedent, rapists would be “transitioning” en masse.)


How do people come to “accept that evidence”? Through ideological grooming. And the grooming begins with manipulation of the language. Choosing the humble pronoun as the thin end of the radical gender ideology wedge was a tactical stroke of genius. If you look at a convicted male rapist and say “he,” your tongue is in harmony with your thoughts. If your tongue feels obliged to say “she” when your brain is continually registering “he,” you are practising Orwellian doublethink, which creates anxiety and saps self-confidence. That is the objective. “Live not by lies,” Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn exhorted us. But once doublethink is the social norm, there are consequences to open dissent that few public figures are in a position to disregard.


Even the judge was in on the lie. He said to Graham, “Ms. Bryson, you have been convicted…” He did not have to do that. In the United Kingdom, judges’ “bench book” offers guidance, not instruction, encouraging use of preferred name and pronouns only as a matter of “common courtesy.”


The word courtesy in this context cries out for interrogation. Courtesy is part of our social contract. Mutual respect between strangers is critical in creating high-trust public forums, where anti-social behaviour can instantly turn a pleasant environment into a space associated with uncertainty or fear. That is why we become agitated when people disregard queues for service, the queue being the epitome of “common courtesy.”


In a courtroom there is a need for rules and order, to be sure. But the “contract” in a courtroom is procedural, not social. In the circumstances, a courtesy to Graham was a discourtesy to his victims, who were there to witness Graham’s very male crimes.


Another version of the “courtesy” trope often invoked by trans activists is “Be kind.” Or occasionally a trans stakeholder will allude to the Golden Rule (“Do unto others…”). The problem with both “be kind” and the Golden Rule is that they were conceived as ethical guides to behaviour between one individual and another. They were not conceived as guides to the treatment of belief systems. Being kind to trans ideology often means being cruel to women. Assenting to a blanket rule on pronoun use whose terms are set by radically left-wing interest groups shilling for system grifters like Adam Graham, is to sign away one’s right to say aloud that the emperor is naked.


Thus, the use of the pronouns and the new name in the Graham trial courtroom were Kabuki theatre: insincere, ritualistic virtue-signalling to the gender Comintern.


In real theatres, of course, audiences are not dragged onstage and compelled to read from scripts. Increasingly, though, that is a precise analogy to what is presently happening through institutional capture. In the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), for example, as reported by Yasmin Zenith in The Critic, a British magazine, a schism has developed between acolytes of radical gender ideology and dissenters who (rightly) consider it unscientific and a danger to freedom of speech.


Leaked slides from a November webinar presentation by gender ideologue Dr. Joseph Hartland, EDI Deputy Ed Director at Bristol Medical School, showcased the internal tensions, which clustered around the use of preferred pronouns. One slide asserted that failure to use examples like “ze/hir” constitutes an “act of aggression.” Another slide describes biological sex as “socially contrived.” “People with testes” is presented as “appropriate language.” Hartland was unreceptive to challenges from collegial attendees, characterizing the 45 questions following his talk as “80 per cent transphobic.” The RCP later denounced the webinar audience on Twitter, declaring themselves “appalled” by the dissenters’ behaviour.


One often hears the dictum, “The inmates are running the asylum,” usually meant half in jest, but it certainly applies here without a hint of humour. If the discipline of psychiatry is completely swallowed by the preferred pronoun python, as seems plausible from this UK scenario, it doesn’t take a great stretch of the imagination to conjure a future in which citizens who insist that sex is real and dimorphic, or that human beings cannot literally change their sex, will be labelled mentally ill. We’ve seen this movie before. It did not end well.


Publications are (so far) not bound by any law to use preferred pronouns. Yet, as noted above, most mainstream media unprotestingly toe the ideological line on reflexive pronoun assignation. In my latest column for the National Post, which was about the injustice of housing male sex offenders in women’s prisons, I included a note to readers that I would not refer to Graham by any other than his “dead name” and “he/him” referents. Fortunately, my choice secured editorial assent. This time.


But Canadian mainstream media receive government funding in the form of tax breaks and subsidies. Conceivably, woke government honchos could force those on the receiving end to choose between imposed pronoun compliance on their reportage and opinion writers and columnists’ freedom to dissent. At that point, those of us who write frequently on this subject will have a certain cost/benefit analysis to perform.


Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.