Ohio family courts adopt "gender neutral language" rules

Sometimes the title simply says it all without further amplification being required. We now take you to the hallowed halls of the Ohio state supreme court. (Associated Press)

The Ohio Supreme Court is adopting the use of gender-neutral references in family court cases in place of words such as husband and wife following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage across the country.

The updates to the Ohio high court rules and forms take effect Tuesday.

The Ohio order also includes father, mother, parent and spouse in its description of terms expressing familial relationships.

Now in divorce or child custody cases we can do away with silly things like, “you claim that your husband was cheating on you” and replace them with, “we understand that your, uh, significant other was engaged in mutually consensual physical contact with a third party who was ostensibly a sis-female, not that we’re assuming anything about their gender identify, of course.”

And of course, if you don’t care for pronouns which single you out based on your 23rd pair of chromosomes you’ll find a safe space in Ohio’s family courts. But why should we act surprised? Just last November the New York Times launched into this bold new territory when interviewing an anarchist at a Big Apple book shop.

“Are we anarchist?” Senia Hardwick asked. “Technically, yes.” Mx. Hardwick, 27, who prefers not to be assigned a gender — and also insists on the gender-neutral Mx. in place of Ms. or Mr. — is a staff member at Bluestockings, a bookshop and activist center at 172 Allen Street on the Lower East Side. Mx. Hardwick was explaining that the ethos of Bluestockings, which is run by a collective of volunteers, is difficult to classify. But if you must: “Anarchist is O.K.”

Bluestockings opened in 1999 and then reopened in 2003 after a financial downturn caused the original owner to sell it. The collective is made up of volunteers who work three-hour shifts once a week; staff members who work more hours and have had more training; and a third tier of people who handle logistics. Ages range from midteens to late 30s. “Nobody gets paid,” Mx. Hardwick said. “All money made goes back into the store.”

Trying to write anything that way is not only maddening from an editorial perspective, but it causes you to continually refer to people by their full name unless you wish to learn an entirely new (and pointless) lexicon. Of course, if you’re feeling the impulse to shorten the sentence by referring to the subject as “she” you can always substitute “ze.” Or is it “hir?” On third thought it actually might be “mer.” You can find a table here to guide you through the dozens upon dozens of variations and make sure you don’t offend anyone’s sensibilities in their safe spaces or commit any other sort of microagressions. Is there a politically correct way of saying I’m getting headache from all this nonsense and would like a comet to come and wipe out humanity?


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