WaPo writer refers to her female cat as “they” because that’s more “gender-neutral”
From my latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:
My question: Why can’t the kitty just be an “it” like other animals?
“The cats’ lives wouldn’t change, I reasoned, and it would help me learn to use plural pronouns for my friends, neighbors and colleagues who individually go by they, their and them. Even though using they, them and their as singular pronouns grates on many people because it’s grammatically incorrect, it seems to be the most popular solution to the question of how to identify people without requiring them to conform to the gender binary of female and male. It also just feels right to refer to people as they wish to be referred to.
“[F]riends would come over, I’d introduce the cats and their pronouns, and some would ask, ‘But what ARE they?’ Some would randomly use ‘he’ and ‘she.’ Some would stumble, unable to form a sentence when talking about one of the cats.”
Um, can’t you tell the sex of a cat by just looking? Nonetheless, all goes well in Taylor’s gender-neutral universe until one of the kitties gets sick and she has to take “them” (that is, the one sick cat) to the vet. For some reason the employees there aren’t with the program, and they keep looking around for the other cat whenever Taylor says “them.” Also, since they’re in the medical profession, not the political-correctness profession, they can’t get over that stick-in-the-mud “binary” way of classifying animals as “male” and “female.”
“[I] had to weigh the question: Do I explain their pronouns not only to the vet, but also the front-desk workers, the vet techs, and everyone else we interacted with? Before the illness was over, we saw five vets, two sets of front desk people, and countless vet techs. I chose to fall back on my cis-gender privilege (look it up) and used the singular pronoun for Essence. I understood that wouldn’t have been so easy if I were the patient — or if Essence were human.”
That is, if Essence were human and into the gender-neutral shtick.