I don’t know what dystopian hellscape you reside in but where I am there are rarely negative consequences for questions like “Coke or Pepsi?” or “chocolate or vanilla?” So, I disagree. There are plenty of questions that don’t threaten negative consequences.

The consequences I was implying in my piece are discipline or dismissal from employment, and social ostracism. Those are not negligible. My point is that “adults” are placed in a position where they must comply, lie, or face repercussions for refusing to comply. That’s a problem and not consistent with the purported goal of publicly asking others for the gender pronouns.

As I responded to another comment: the intentions of the questioner are irrelevant to the power dynamics at work when others are publicly asked to provide “their” gender pronouns. That power balance shifts in the direction of the questioner in workplace, community, or social settings. No matter the intent, such questions still put those asked in a position where they must comply, lie, or face consequences.

In my experience, supervisors and human resources staff don’t usually deal well with being called “assholes” for asking employees questions that an employer considers to be part of its “inclusion and diversity” initiatives. And, unless you’re unionized, the possibility for negotiations in such contexts are limited or nonexistent. The attenuated opportunities to negotiate in these contexts further speaks to the power imbalance at the core of gender pronoun questions.

Professional homosexual. Professor. Writer. Scholar. Activist. Husband.

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