Reply to post: Re: Is this just an English thing ?

The mod firing squad: Stack Exchange embroiled in 'he said, she said, they said' row

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Is this just an English thing ?

terdon's summary (taken from TL transcript):

> Many LGBT+ folks have been feeling that SE in general and the Teacher's Lounge (TL) in particular is a hostile place to them. I personally have seen some [pretty egregious examples](https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/46531120#46531120) of transphobia, but I understand that most of the ugliness has gone over my head as things that don't directly affect you personally so often do. As a result of this, multiple trans mods have either stepped down or have been forced to leave the TL in tears because of how they've been made to feel in the room. And many seem to have cited Monica as a main reason.

>

> Monica Cellio has had a few conversations with people trying to explain that she really doesn't feel comfortable with singular _they_ but is willing to use any other pronoun, including non-standard neo-pronouns like _xie_ etc.. This came to a head this summer, when she flat out refused to use singular they for a trans moderator who explicitly asked her to ([transcript link](https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/45643853#45643853).

>

> Fast forward to Friday when Sara Chipps, the "Director of Public Q&A at Stack Overflow" came into the TL and dropped the following announcement out of the blue:

>

> https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/51749726#51749726

> https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/51749738#51749738

>

> [editor's note: These two links are long. [Part 1](https://i.imgur.com/Z28e1Dw.png), [Part 2](https://i.imgur.com/Ua8wmRL.png)]

>

> She then proceeded to leave the room and let the inmates fight each other, essentially. This included a conversation about what constitutes misgendering and whether it is possible to not misgender someone while still avoiding the use of their pronoun if that pronoun is _they_. This conversation ([starting here](https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/51751510#51751510)) is the one alluded to in [Monica's answer on mi Yodega Meta](https://judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/a/5200/7124)). Eventually, Shog asked us to stop and instead send emails to the team if we still felt we had something important to add. After this, the TL was frozen for the weekend. More than 20 moderators duly sent in emails. A week later, which was before the CMs had a chance to read them, however, and certainly before any of them were replied to, we got this:

>

> https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/51865321#51865321

>

> https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/51865346#51865346

>

> This time, to their credit, the CMs were very much present and did their damnedest to answer questions and deal with concerns. However, the fact remains that one of the most respected moderators in the network was summarily canned. Monica is an observant Jew and this came right before sundown on a Friday, right before the start of Sabbath, a period she'd have to be offline for. What's worse, it was the beginning of a yearly, 4-day religious holiday.

>

> [editor's note: Again, long link: [Part 3](https://i.imgur.com/UXSCxAU.png)]

>

> So, we now have roughly 5 main overlapping groups of mods:

>

> * Some are upset over the fact that as respected a moderator as Monica was defrocked so unceremoniously.

> * Some can understand the defrocking, but object to the way it was handled.

> * Some are all for the defrocking but object to the way it was handled.

> * Some are against the changes that are coming to the CoC.

> * Some are upset that everyone is focusing on Monica and not on the people her behavior hurt.

>

> For what it's worth, I don't object to the changes (although I dislike not allowing people to avoid pronouns, I can understand how that would make folks feel singled out), but I'm extremely upset by how this was done.

>

> The direct result of this is 8-11 mods have resigned (and counting).

>

> Some important links:

>

> [Monica's post on Judaism meta.](https://judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5193/stack-overflow-inc-sinat-chinam-and-the-goat-for-azazel)

> [Ongoing dumpster fire on main meta](https://meta.stackexchange.com/q/333965/203101)

> [Monica's answer on Teams that set a lot of things off](https://stackoverflow.com/c/moderators/a/1110/16).

> [Doppelgreener's helpful summary.](https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/51870354#51870354). This one is particularly worth reading. I tried to be neutral here, but I'm sure I failed and doppel is trans so has a different take.

Doggelgreener's summary (taken from TL transcript):

> There's multiple layers to the discussion that took place. Let me separate those layers so I can talk about them individually:

> (a) Monica suggested a policy that stated specifically there was no requirement to use anyone's pronouns. We also talked about this policy in Teacher's Lounge mid last week.

> (b) Monica said that singular they throws her off.

> (c) Monica said that singular they is grammatically incorrect.

> (d) Monica suggested using peoples' names instead was an acceptable workaround to not using their pronouns. [there's more to this message below the fold, if you're viewing a onebox.]

>

> (a) is a policy that leaves trans people undefended from misgendering. Earlier I mentioned a school teacher who used “he” and “she” around all his students except for a trans male student, who was exclusively always “they/them” out of refusal to acknowledge the boy's gender. This school teacher's behaviour is accepted within the policy Monica proposed to teams, in other words, the policy enables transphobia and misgendering.

>

> (b) Ok, sure. I don't understand this, but I'm taking her word for it. She's a professional writer, I would imagine she can adapt? Maybe she can't, ok.

>

> (c) is just not correct at all, people have been trying to tell Monica and others this.

>

> Trans people hear the “singular they is grammatically incorrect” argument a lot. The fact is though we see society use singular they all the time. Examples of perfectly ordinary usage of it include:

> “If anybody wants their admission fee back, they can get it at the door.”

> “Would the person who left their umbrella in the break room please come pick it up.”

> “Nobody in their right mind would do such a thing.”

>

> But we see it get rejected in the context of a trans person using singular they for a pronoun. HMMMMM...

>

> Dictionaries endorse singular they, style guides use singular they. Even if singular they was a brand new concept (it isn't; it's centuries old, it's been around longer than “singular you”) the English language can change.

>

> Flatly, Monica saying it's grammatically incorrect... is not correct. Or it's extremely un-nuanced: maybe from a certain specific prescriptivist standpoint established sometime in the 1800s or early 1900s it's incorrect, but otherwise it's entirely acceptable.

>

> Why's this matter? Well, because people who reject trans identities — who call it a lifestyle, who will seek to misgender us, who will call a trans woman “he” — will frequently use “it's grammatically incorrect” as a backing for refusing to acknowledge nonbinary identities. Monica arguing this stance enables those people to continue to do so. Monica being such a vocal and upstanding member of the community, having written a heavily-supported policy, means her actions have more than private ramifications—they set the bar of what's acceptable from others as well.

>

> (d) It is not a problem to refer to trans people by their names. It is not a problem to do that when you forget their pronouns and would feel embarrassed to ask and just need to refer to them right now: heck, I do the inverse when I've forgotten someone's name; I'll ask them for it again later. But it becomes a problem mixed with other things: she's refusing to acknowledge peoples' request as valid, insists it's incorrect, and advocates for a policy that leaves trans people vulnerable, and insists it despite four (at least) trans moderators telling her it's harmful to us.

>

> All of this begins to feel pretty wrong: we feel un-acknowledged, we feel that there is a refusal to acknowledge or validate our identities, we feel there is a lack of concern or compassion given to us when our claims that something is harmful are outright ignored on the altar of a non-starter grammar argument. I told Monica that the combination of all of this is harmful and would cause suffering, and apparently she still did not want to change. We're moderators and we're specifically here to protect others from suffering; this does not feel right.

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