It’s time for the singular “they.” Indeed, it’s well past time — and I’d like to do my part in pushing “they” along.
So: If you write about me, interview me, tweet about me, or if you are a Fox News producer working on a rant about my extreme politics, I would prefer if you left my gender out of it. Call me “they” or “them,” as in: “Did you read Farhad’s latest column — they’ve really gone off the deep end this time!” And — unless you feel strongly about your specific pronouns, which I respect — I would hope to call you “they” too, because the world will be slightly better off if we abandoned unnecessary gender signifiers as a matter of routine communication. Be a “him” or “her” or anything else in the sheets, but consider also being a “they” and “them” in the streets.
I suspect my call will be dismissed as useless virtue-signaling, but there are several clear advantages, both linguistic and cultural, to the singular “they.” One of the main ones is that it’s ubiquitous. According to linguists who study gender and pronouns, “they” and “them” are increasingly and widely seen as legitimate ways to refer to an individual, both generically and specifically, whether you know their gender or not — as I just did right in this sentence.