Gender correct? It’s all down to pronouns

Thanks to a character in a US television series, I now have some idea what the Equal Opportunities Commission in Hong Kong is talking about

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 January, 2018, 1:32am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 January, 2018, 1:40am

Now in my 50s and married for almost 20 years with two teenage children, I find myself having a sex education all over again. That’s thanks to the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

Perhaps I should say gender education rather than sex. This is because sex is binary but gender is, in the words of sexual minority activists, fluid. Many such individuals identify themselves as non-binaries or gender-neutral, that is, neither male nor female. And, you may also have the sex organs of one sex but identify yourself as the opposite sex.

Let transgender people have status recognised without undergoing sex reassignment surgery, Hong Kong equality watchdog urges

In other words, what nature has given you, you can reject at will. More radically, there is no such thing as nature, only gender constructs. The reason societies insist on the sex determination of nature is to subjugate sexual minorities. If you are confused, don’t worry. It took me a while, with considerable resistance, to learn this new world view. Now I say, live and let live. But you need to learn a new grammar, especially pronouns.

In Swedish, the gender-correct term is “hen”, rather than the traditional masculine “han” and feminine “hon”. In Chinese, we will have to get rid of the male and female radicals in all the characters.

There is an ever expanding list of new English pronouns, such as “ze”, “hu”, “ne”, “hir”, “xu” and “yo”, but no one seems to know how to use them exactly. Fear not, though; “they” has come to the rescue as the all-purpose pronoun. It’s used in the singular. As a key character in the American TV series Billions explains it: “Hi, my name is Taylor. I’m gender non-binary. My pronouns are they, theirs and them.”

I am glad I have been learning all these things because, otherwise, I would have no clue what the EOC is talking about. Its latest position is that the government should recognise the legal status of transgender people without them having to undergo sex reassignment surgery. All they need is to self-identify their own gender, perhaps with some supplementary evidence of support from medical and/or psychiatric professionals.

This is cutting-edge stuff, comparable to the most progressive practice of the most liberal countries in the West. I am a bit cynical, though, because EOC chief Alfred Chan Cheung-ming wouldn’t be so naive to think the proposal would get anywhere in Hong Kong other than to make sexual minorities think he is one of them.