We admit to complete confusion over the whole gender non-binary pronoun ...thing? What's the right word for this? We have no idea. We see emails, twitters, Zoom IDs with the phrase pronouns "she/her/they".
What does it mean? He/me/us have no idea. Nor do we care to. We subscribe to the maxim of the 1960's- call us whatever you wish, just don't call us late to dinner. Be who you want to be. Do what you want to do. We had a law school professor who used to say that you could do whatever you want, so long as it was not immoral, illegal, or fattening. (We/Us/ say, we guess you/they/he/she/her/him had to be there.)
The French, Mon Ami, however, consider this a very big deal. First a little primer on French. The masculine pronoun is preferred. The male pronoun is the correct one to use when describing a group of men and women. The masculine form of adjectives is the correct one to use when describing a group of men and women.
The French have two dictionaries that consider it their sworn duty to protect the French Language: Le Petit Robert and Larousse. Thus it became a nation-shaking event when Le Petit Robert added "iel" as a nonbinary pronoun. Pronounced similar to yell, "iel" is a combination of the masculine "il" (he") and the feminine "elle" (she).
Le Petit Robert defines "iel" as a third person pronoun, both singular and plural to evoke a person of any gender.
The French view this as an assault by...Americans advancing their/our "woke culture" on the French. "Aie!" (Ouch). "Mince!" (drat). This is the argument of France's Education Minister.
The Academie Francaise, established almost four hundred years ago to protect the French Language, has, naturally, a Secretary- in-Perpetuity, who called the new pronoun harmful to the French language.
Larousse turned up its French/Aquiline nose at what its counter-part has done. Brigitte Macron, the French First Lady, weighed in against the third pronoun.
So what is the deal with people announcing their preferred pronouns? As a woke Judge might inquire, "what say you/they/them?"
Why just announce pronoun preference? Why not soda preference as well? "He/me/Diet Dr. Pepper". Or Sports teams: "She/her/Rangers/Knicks/Mets/Jets". In a city like NY, where who you root for -Mets or Yankees, Jets or Giants, says as much about you as your choice in wine, the identification of sports team makes all the difference as to who you are. Mets/Queens; Yankees/Bronx.
Jets fans have a cold beer in a can with a hot dog, and a shot in the parking lot after the game/loss.
So we/us/me, tell you/he/she to leave us be, when it comes to they/their/thee.
Post Script: There is nothing funny about transgender discrimination. We are old enough to remember feeling sick when judges/prosecutors/defense attorneys would joke about what would happen to a transgender female being denied bond and housed with men. The term we remember being used was "he-shes", Nothing we wrote is meant to diminish the harm those poor souls suffered, or the discrimination and bias transgender people experience everyday. We may not understand the new language, and that- and the French pushback about gender neutral pronouns is what this post is about. It is not meant or intended to mock anyone.