On names and pronouns: don’t be an arse

Following on from yesterday’s daft Sunday Times story, Owl Stefania writes in iNews in defence of using the correct pronouns.

It’s just the compassionate and right thing to do. Because in the end, why would anyone deliberately go out of their way to harm another human being?

There does appear to be a double standard in operation.

People seem fine calling drag queens “she” and “her”; for example, most of the coverage I’ve seen about Celebrity Big Brother winner Courtney Act calls her “Courtney” and uses “she/her”, even though Courtney is Shane offstage and doesn’t identify as female.

But if trans people ask for the same courtesy, they’re somehow wicked.

It can’t be authenticity we’re worried about. We don’t seem to have a problem with Bono, born Paul Hewson, even though he took his name from a hearing aid shop. Guitarist The Edge was born David Evans, and took his name from an imaginary character in an imaginary village.

Fish, formerly of Marillion, isn’t a fish.

Snoop Dogg isn’t a dog.

Ice-T isn’t made of ice or tea.

To the best of my knowledge, Sting doesn’t.

And that’s before we list the many women who’ve changed their name, from Miley Cyrus (Hope) and Jodie Foster (Alicia) to Whoopi Goldberg (Caryn Johnson), Shania Twain (Eilleen Edwards) and bell hooks (Gloria Watkins).

Of course, these are pseudonyms, noms de plume or stage names. But all the world’s a stage.

If you met any of the people I’ve mentioned in real life you wouldn’t insist on calling them by their birth names because that’d be rude and their people would probably have you thrown down the nearest staircase.

There’s no reason to call anybody by anything other than their preferred name: if you insist on doing otherwise, you’re an arse.