New York City is requiring employees, landlords, and all types of businesses to use pronouns consistent with an individual’s preference.
This new law, known as the NYCHRL (New York City Human Rights Law), includes designations such as “Mr.” and “Mrs.”, but also includes the ambiguous gender pronouns such as “ze” and “hir,” used by some transgender individuals.
In a column for the Washington Post, Eugene Volokh warns that this mandate, while seemingly harmless, may lead to restriction of freedom.
“So people can basically force us — on pain of massive legal liability — to say what they want us to say, whether or not we want to endorse the political message associated with that term, and whether or not we think it’s a lie,” writes Volokh.
Failure to comply with the new mandate could result in losing a job or being forced out of an apartment. It could also result in “civil penalties up to $125,000 for violations, and up to $250,000 for violations that are the result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct.”
Noncompliance with the requirement includes “Intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title. For example, repeatedly calling a transgender woman ‘him’ or ‘Mr.’ after she has made clear which pronouns and title she uses.”
“But of course ze’ and ‘Ms./Mrs.’ are just examples. We have to use the person’s ‘preferred … pronoun and title,’ whatever those preferences might be,” Volokh continues. “Some people could say they prefer ‘glugga’ just as well as saying ‘ze’; the whole point is that people are supposed to be free to define their own gender, and their own pronouns and titles. … Or what if some people insist that their title is ‘Milord,’ or ‘Your Holiness’? They may look like non-gender-related titles, but who’s to say?”
Publication date: May 20, 2016