Saturday 14 September 2019

They-Person and the Master-Mistresses of the Universe

Singer Sam Smith has come out as non-binary and wants to be referred to as "they/them" rather than "he/him". The BBC has reported the news, and here's a tweet from Paul Embery about their online coverage: 
"Throughout this article, the BBC obliges Smith's demand and refers to him as 'they' - something that is both biologically and grammatically illiterate. Yes, we should treat people with compassion and respect. But I'm afraid this is just ridiculous."
Here are some examples from the BBC report:
  • Six months ago, Smith said they did not feel male or female, but "I flow somewhere in between".
  • On Friday, the 27-year-old said they had been "surrounded by people that support me in this decision". 
  • They wrote: "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis-gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you."


  1. They aren't his pronouns, they are my pronouns to use to describe him.

    He doesn't deserve respect, he has to earn it first.

    Where does this nonsense end? If I feel like a talented multimillionaire to you lot have to fall in line?

    "O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!"

  2. As I remarked on the open thread, there is authority for use of "they" to refer to a single person. Shakespeare did and people commonly do so in everyday speech: "If one of the guests arrives early they should be directed to the ballroom." But it's not often appropriate for close personal discourse or writing about a named individual I would say.

    Let people be who they want to be. But leave our language alone.


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