A plurality of millennials think that “mis-gendering” someone should be a crime, a new survey suggests, as those who address people by pronouns that do not match their stated gender identity increasingly face repercussions. A poll conducted on behalf of Newsweek of 1,500 eligible U.S. voters found that 44% of millennials believe that “referring to someone by the wrong gender pronoun (he/him, she/her) should be a criminal offense.” An additional 31% of millennials disagreed with making “misgendering” a “criminal offense,” while the remaining respondents “neither agree nor disagree” or “don’t know.” A millennial, also known as Generation Y, is defined by the Pew Research Centre as anyone born between 1981 and 1996, between 27 and 42 years old when the survey was conducted.
Among those between the ages of 35 and 44, including millennials and Generation X respondents, 38% agreed that mis-gendering someone should be illegal. In comparison, 35% disagreed, with 26% either “don’t know or didn’t express an opinion.” As for the youngest group of American adults, known as Generation Z (18-24), 48% opposed making mis-gendering a “criminal offense,” while 33% favoured criminalizing it. Overall, 19% of Americans told pollsters they wanted to see mis-gendering become a criminal offense, while a solid majority of respondents (65%) thought otherwise, 12% “neither agree nor disagree,” and 4% selected “don’t know.” Even as Americans remain skeptical of the idea that mis-gendering should result in criminal charges for violators, more respondents indicated that they would agree to refer to someone by their preferred pronouns even if they did not match their biological sex than said otherwise.
37% of those surveyed insisted they would address a trans-identified biological male using “she/her” pronouns, while only 17% maintained that they would continue to address the individual using “he/him” pronouns that align with his biological sex. Twenty-eight percent said referring to a trans-identified male with female pronouns “depends on the person,” and 4% asserted that they “don’t know.” Similarly, 38% of Americans stated that they would refer to a trans-identified biological female using “he/him” pronouns, compared to 18% who said they would refuse to do so, 27% described their choice of pronoun use as dependent on the person and the rest of the respondents were unsure. The survey comes as individuals in the United States and abroad have faced adverse action for refusing to identify trans-identified individuals by their preferred pronouns, in many cases citing their deeply held Christian belief that God created two genders as the reason for doing so.
Joshua Sutcliffe, a Christian teacher in England, was fired in 2017 after reportedly “mis-gendering” a trans-identified female student by referring to her with female pronouns. In May, six years after his termination, the Teaching Regulation Agency banned Sutcliffe from teaching in schools across the United Kingdom. Reacting to the decision, Sutcliffe lamented, “I have been bullied and pursued and have had every part of my life scrutinized for expressing my Christian faith and biological truth.” Last month, former Mexican Congressman Rodrigo Ivan Cortes was convicted of “gender-based political violence” because he referred to a trans-identified male politician as a “man who self-ascribes as a woman” in social media posts. Mexican Congressman Gabriel Quadri has faced a similar conviction of a “gender-based political offense” because he “mis-gendered” the same politician.
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