The New Etiquette
Jul 1, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 40 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
"What pronoun do you prefer?” The Scrapbook, as readers may know, prefers its. As in, the question above left The Scrapbook scratching its head. But if you seek “to be inclusive,” it’s the polite thing to ask. We gleaned this from a sign titled “Transgender Etiquette,” posted in San Jose, where a cadre of über-liberal techies came together last week for the annual Netroots Nation conference—a sort of Woodstock meets South-by-Southwest meets the Democratic National Convention.
The sign was situated near the bathrooms, because the next big thing, in case you were wondering, is bathroom equality. Since what happens in San Jose won’t stay in San Jose, here are some etiquette tips from the sign:
• “One way of acknowledging transgender people’s needs is to designate restrooms as gender neutral. In bathrooms, many transgender people face harassment, so please let everyone pee in peace.”
• “Please do not assume anyone’s gender, even people you may have met in the past. A person’s external appearance may not match their internal gender identity. Pay attention to a person’s purposeful gender expression. It’s polite to ask . . . ‘How do you identify?’ before using pronouns or gendered words. Or better yet ask for their name.”
Etiquette, of course, only gets you part of the way to the brave new world, these days. What begins with manners ends in lawsuits. Thus we note that Maine’s supreme court earlier this month heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by the family of Nicole Maines and the Maine Human Rights Commission regarding his/her right to use the girls’ bathroom. Born a male, Maines identified as a girl while in the fifth-grade but was not allowed to pee in peace with the other girls, being directed to use a staff bathroom instead. The Maine Human Rights Act bars gender discrimination in schools.
We’re not sure how the high court will resolve the case. To each its own is The Scrapbook’s view.
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