THIS article is by Gary Oliver. To anyone posting in the comments section, please note that my personal pronouns are he, him and his – gendered terms which, until a few days ago, I naively believed to be blindingly obvious.
Having been made aware of the proliferation of gender neutral pronouns, I now recognise that choice should never be taken for granted. According to mypronouns.org, ‘The act of making an assumption (even if correct) sends a potentially harmful message – that people have to look a certain way to demonstrate the gender that they are or are not . . . it can be offensive or harassing to guess at someone’s pronouns and refer to them using those pronouns if that is not how that person wants to be known.’
My re-education occurred yesterday, which was designated International Pronouns Day. (Yes, it really was.) The lesson of the day was that instead of leaving others to make assumptions, henceforth everyone should follow the example of Jeremy, 70, an allotment holder from Islington, seen here volunteering his personal pronouns.
— Jeffrey Ingold (@Jefflez) October 16, 2019
Furthermore, the publicity surrounding International Pronouns Day taught me that my personal entitlement extends beyond having white skin: being a cis male also bestows a ‘privilege not to have to worry about which pronoun someone is going to use for you based on how they perceive your gender’.
Enough already. Had October 16 been just a high day for headbangers, observed only by cranks, with no relevance to everyday lives, it could have been safely ignored. Unfortunately, our ever more preposterous police service issued the solemn statement: ‘International Pronouns Day is particularly important to those who are transgender and gender nonconforming. Being misgendered can have a huge impact on somebody and their personal wellbeing. It can also be used as a form of abuse for somebody and that just isn’t right.’
A lot of people have been asking me about the appearance of Pronouns added to emails recently at work. @DCCJulieCooke sums it up nicely here.
Gender Identity may never have been an issue for you/something you thought about but it may be everything to someome else.#PronounsDay https://t.co/WfAQPkE02Q
— WYP LGBT+ Network 🌈 (@WYP_LGBT) October 16, 2019
— Julie Cooke (@DCCJulieCooke) October 16, 2019
The message stopped short of describing deliberate misuse of pronouns as a crime. Nonetheless, one must infer that ‘misgendering’ will, at the very least, be treated as a ‘hate incident’ of the sort which today’s police, with so little serious crime to investigate, are now desperate to record.
In addition to reporting hate crime, please report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing. Hate will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire. Report it and put a stop to it #HateHurtsSY pic.twitter.com/p2xf6OLoQZ
— SouthYorkshirePolice (@syptweet) September 9, 2018
The Twitter lecturer was not some lowly PCSO let loose on social media: Julie Cooke is Deputy Chief Constable of Cheshire. However, for DCC Cooke this senior title appears to be less significant than her position as the National Police Chiefs’ Lead for LGBT+. In modern policing, thwarting thugs and thieves brings much less social cachet than being feted by LGBT activists.
So so proud of @DCCJulieCooke tireless, often unseen, relentless commitment to doing the right thing..enabling dialogue, winning hearts&minds. The true epitomy of an ally.. what a response from the @LCRPride crowd.. #Police being recognised at a #pride event = huge 🏳️🌈🚔😁 pic.twitter.com/ROCwDA3goD
— Merseyside Police LGBT+ (@MerpolLGBT) September 26, 2019
In her finger-wagging tweet, note the lanyard which identifies DCC Cooke as a LGBT+ Ally. However, not everyone has been impressed by her permanently displaying the advertisement. Several months ago Bob Fousert, chair of Cheshire Police and Crime Panel, complained that ‘LGBT, whether you like it or not, is a political issue’ and criticised for DCC Cooke for having ‘crossed the boundary with that overt statement’.
For this opinion, Mr Fousert was derided by Cheshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, David Keane: ‘Someone holding such views should not chair a public body . . . your views are outdated and inappropriate . . . I request that you consider resigning from the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel with immediate effect.’
Soon afterwards Bob Fousert was removed from the police crime panel; for using the ‘offensive’ word ‘homosexual’, one councillor even compared the unfashionable Mr Fousert to Vladimir Putin. The open letter sent by Commissioner Keane had contained the inevitable boilerplate ‘it’s vital that we openly celebrate diversity and equality’ – a tenet inexplicably overlooked when Sir Robert Peel established his Principles of Policing.
Cheshire Police’s commitment to diversity appears to exclude differences of opinion. Whether DCC Cooke, still draped in her LGBT lanyard, ‘crossed the boundary’ is up for debate. Not in doubt is Mr Fousert’s accurate assertion that LGBT rights are now highly politicised – especially since Stonewall and other campaigning groups decided to prioritise the Ts over the Ls, Gs and Bs.
The fatuous tweet by DCC Julie Cooke, decorated as a LGBT+ Ally, confirms a similar hierarchy: in present-day policing, the whims of ‘those who are transgender and gender nonconforming’ now trump biology and common sense.