Woman raises cats in a gender neutral way

Several readers called this piece to my attention, at last one of whom assumed it was an April Fool’s joke. But I’m pretty sure it’s not, if for no other reason than that it was posted on April 5.

The piece, by Lauren P. Taylor in the Washington Post is called “Don’t laugh: I have a serious reason for raising my cats gender-neutral.” Taylor is identified as “a self-defense instructor and anti-violence educator based in Washington, D.C. She is also a member of the editorial page staff.” The piece goes to show how far virtue signalling has invaded the media.

Taylor’s premise is this: she is not assigning genders to her two female (pardon me!) cats—not calling them “her” or “girls”—as a way of practicing avoiding the dreaded Gender Binary that plagues society. Instead, Taylor uses a term for each cat that some people use for themselves when they feel they’re both male and female, or are unsure: “they” or “them.” For example, if I used that pronoun, I’d describe myself this way: “Jerry is a superannuated professor; they worked for 30 years at the University of Chicago.”


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.

Around the house, with just me, Essence and Trouble – named for Rare Essence and Trouble Funk, for the DC music lovers reading this – things were pretty easy. I’d make a mistake (called “misgendering”), saying something like “Where’s your brother?” (Yes, I talk to my cats.)  Usually, I’d remember to fix it (“Where’s your sibling?” or “Where’s your pal?”).  Just as I’d hoped, I began finding it easier to remember to use gender-neutral language for the humans in my life.

Agreed. But this caused some problems with the moggies, especially at the vet’s (she punted, reverting to her “cis-gender privilege”!):

And I began to get an infinitesimal taste of what transgender and gender-nonconforming people face. I’m not talking about the outright bigotry and hatred –something I can’t know without being in their shoes — but the complete cluelessness. Friends 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.

Things got a little more real when Essence got sick. They were really sick.  I took them to the vet and 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.

While all of this was unfolding, friends would ask me: How is your cat? “They’re better” or “The same. The vets don’t know what’s wrong with them,” I’d say. “Wait a minute—are they both sick?” people would reply, confused.

Finally, she emphasizes her rationale:

It is confusing. We’ve had gender drilled into us as part of language since we first heard adults talking when we were infants – decades of “he” and “she.”

But at the same time it’s necessary. People are coming to understand that not all of us fit into the “girl” box or the “boy” box. Those who don’t are claiming space to be who they are. We all need to find ways to acknowledge and respect that. My way of respecting it just happens to be raising my cats gender neutral. You can choose your own.

While I agree that we should use whatever pronoun a person wishes to use for themselves, it is not the case that there is no gender binary among humans. In the vast majority of cases, someone’s biological sex aligns well with their “gender” (i.e., whether they identify as a male or a female). I believe they don’t align in about 3% of people: those who feel they’re of both sexes, who are transgender individuals, or even those who don’t feel human. So if you make a frequency diagram of those whose gender aligns with their sex, you’d get a plot with two huge peaks (“male and female”) and a lot of intermediate points for the others.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t respect and sympathize with the plight of those whose psychology doesn’t align with their genitalia or other secondary sexual characteristics. We should. But until these people become more numerous, I’ll avoid asking them “what’s your pronoun?” If they correct me, I’ll respect them, but there’s no need to get huffy about it.

But really—with cats? The most trenchant of the 249 comments under the article is this one:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 11.03.24 AM

I’m starting to realize the real value and psychological aptness of the term “virtue signalling”.




  1. C. Morano
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    This nonsense is the new religion- irrational, mystical and insane. I would rather we resort to referring to all living things by their latin/greek scientific names and screw all the feel-good, ultra-abstract, new age crap. Humans are mentally and culturally regressing at an alarming rate.

  2. GBJames
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink


  3. gary
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    What is wrong with reference by given name? Where is she becomes, where is Trouble? Works well with the neutered also.

    • chris moffatt
      Posted April 8, 2016 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      As long as the names given do not further the gender binary opression. Difficult to find names for cats or humans that aren’t either culturally male or female. But I guess the new social justice structures now emerging will eventually solve this problem. “Trouble” is good though you can’t tell if “they” is M/F/It or whatever. Besides the kitties really don’t care.

  4. Cindy
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    It’s a trend. Gender roles are a social construct insofar as fashion (aa just one example) varies over time and culture. We would not say that Louis XIV was trans beacause he wore heels and liked beautiful things. In fact, since such frilly fashion was all the rage back then, and also considered perfectly *masculine*, one could argue that any natal female from the time who chose to dress like Louis XIV must really be a man, because men preferred frilly things and heels! Today, this is reversed. Woman is associated with frills , man is associated with flannel.

    Very few people fit the gender binary perfectly. It is called having a personality.

    Insisting that a natal male who loves fashion *must* be a woman on the inside only reinforces the gender binary. Why can’t he just be a guy who likes fashion? Why must we imply that this is wrong by stating that it is only possible for a dude to like fashion if he has a “lady brain”

    Anyway, this is the problem that I have with the whole thing *as a trend*. Reinforcing gender binaries is harmful. Just as black students arguing for race and culture segregation is a step back. In the race to be PC, people are only reinforcing differences, not erasing them.

    • Geoffrey Howe
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. My ‘maleness’ begins and ends with my Y chromosome. It is WHAT I am, not WHO I am. These people give gender a power that it shouldn’t have. When I accept the ‘he’ pronoun, I’m accepting nothing other than “I have a set of standard XY chromosomes”.

      By making a big deal out of gender, these people are empowering the idea that your chromosomes have something to do with your personality. They are re-inforcing the idea that we cannot seperate a persons mind from their body, and I don’t like it.

    • Posted April 7, 2016 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      Both males and females in the time of Louis XIV “wore heels and liked beautiful things.”
      I don’t think such fashions were gender specific then other than men wearing beautiful pants and jackets (or whatever they were being called then)and women wearing beautiful dresses. It may also have been the fashion then for both sexes to wear face makeup, beauty marks, wigs and to wear perfume. I don’t think people living then were confused as to each other’s gender based on any of this. It would be as unreasonable as considering Middle Eastern men that wear robes are feminine.(Now, if the put on a hijab, that’s different!) Or, that modern day women who wear pants are masculine. Other than for sex or procreative purposes, whether one projects oneself as masculine or feminine is strictly up to the individual and others
      should accept that choice.

      • Cindy
        Posted April 8, 2016 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        Rowena, let me clarify.

        I was trying to explain that a number of folks today say that someone must be trans if they prefer the habits and fashion of the opposite sex. So if a man likes fashion and has no interest in stereotypical manly pursuits, that he must be trans and have a ‘lady brain’. (That, or be gay.)

        The problem is that these gender stereotypes are not fixed. In the past, certain stereotypical male dress would be considered quite effeminate today. The stereotypes change throughout history and across cultures, so how can you say that a natal female has a ‘man brain’ if she likes something that is stereotypically masculine in today’s world. It’s a superficial way of looking at things, and yes, it only reinforces gender stereotypes – that one’s interests must correspond with the sex of the brain they have.

        In essence, it comes down to this. If a person says “I am a woman (despite my dangly bits) because I FEEL like a woman” then the question must be asked: What does it MEAN to “feel like a woman”? Even if you ACTUALLY ARE unquestionably a natal female, how on earth do you answer that? What does it even mean?

        The new trend is to say you can be a woman with ZERO physical basis for such a claim – beard, balls, bulk, and all – the lot of it is now magically female because ‘reasons’. But if you eliminate the physical, all that really remains is gender stereotypes. But because these are cultural and thus always changing, it’s quite an unstable ground to base a claim on.

        And that was really all I was getting at. That if you say you’re a woman because you ‘feel like a woman’, and that ‘feeling like a woman’ can ultimately only mean that you ‘feel like conforming to the female gender stereotype’, then why exactly does that make you a woman, as opposed to being someone who simply LIKES that stereotypical concept?

  5. Pablo
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Her next article should be about training her male dog not to lift their leg when they urinate.

    • Merilee
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      My female dog has peed like a boy till recently, when old age has made it not worth the trouble to lift a leg.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      My male dog pees like a girl dog. I suspect this is pretty common, as it looks more comfortable.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        Certainly it is common enough that I’ve met dogs who piss like bitches and bitches who piss like dogs. And if I learned some good dog-cookery recipes, I’d have significantly increased my number of uses for dogs.

      • jay
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        It appears NOT to be really gender related, but but a learned behavior based on pragmatics (where the stream hits). Male dogs with short legs don’t usually do the leg lift thing.

  6. Simon Hayward
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    On a personal rant: Will the words sex and gender ever again assume their historic meanings? Or is the meaning of gender, like the meaning of disinterested in the US, now lost – I’m fed up with filling in forms that ask for my gender when they want to know my sex and don’t care whether my feminine side is showing 🙂

  7. Merilee
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Lauren be nutso.

    Kittehs be kittehs

  8. jaxkayaker
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you, Jerry, and with Kathy Hix. I suspect Joan Roughgarden disagrees with us, however. I haven’t read her book, but I saw her presentation on it at ESA. Have you read it, by any chance?


    • Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      I not only read it, I reviewed it for the Times Literary Supplement, and found it a pretty dreadful book. I can send a copy of my review (if I have it) to anybody who emails me.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        I take it that the book itself went into the circular file?

  9. JohnH
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Am I missing something? Does being virtuous, or what ever is one’s interpretation of being virtuous, override clear communication especially in circumstances like getting proper medical care? As a business owner I find that clear communication from both the provider of a service and the customer is critical to providing and receiving the service offered and desired. If I had to individually interpret every individuals nuanced request customers would no longer be able to afford the service I provide and I would no longer be a business owner.

    • Henry Fitzgerald
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      I’m with you – as soon as she mentioned “vets” I started to think that perhaps this foolishness was not so harmless after all.

      Presumably there are cases where a medical professional will have good, sound reasons to want know an animal’s biological sex. Maybe knowing will rule out, or rule in, a diagnosis, or a suggested treatment. I don’t know how common this is, and I’ll bet the author doesn’t know either. What is she going to do in this case – go out of her way to hide this information from her vets? Deliberately waste their time? It makes no sense.

      • JohnH
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Maybe humanity needs two sets of pronouns, one anatomical and one psychological. If I go in for surgery, I don’t want some surgeon rooting around for my ovaries due to a hospital error because I identify psychologically as female but anatomically I am male. I am not trying to trivialize or insult anyone’s gender concerns based on identity issues resulting from real biochemical and physiological activities, just hopefully a little humor to illustrate the extent of the issue. Many people use anatomy (the most obvious and often times the sole indicator used,especially by those of a dogmatically inclined) as the sole criterion for determining gender and have no conception of the role biochemistry and physiology play.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

        “Presumably there are cases where a medical professional will have good, sound reasons to want know an animal’s biological sex.”

        I can think of one reason – commonly associated with vets – why. After which poor ol’ kitty will indeed be gender neutral.


  10. DrBrydon
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    JUDITH: Here! I– I’ve got an idea. Suppose you agree that he can’t actually have babies, not having a womb, which is nobody’s fault, not even the Romans’, but that he can have the right to have babies.

    FRANCIS: Good idea, Judith. We shall fight the oppressors for your right to have babies, brother. Sister. Sorry.

    REG: What’s the point?

    FRANCIS: What?

    REG: What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can’t have babies?!

    FRANCIS: It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression.

    REG: Symbolic of his struggle against reality.

    • JohnH
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Love it. And it is from my favorite Easter movie.

    • Richard
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      That film gets more appropriate all the time.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        Just imagine the shitstorm if it were released today. Not just from the religious, but from every SJW group on the planet. It lampoons or trivialises speech defects, trans-gender issues, activist organisations and their petty bureaucrats, the tendency of same to endlessly schism and fight among themselves, violence against women, stoning, Jewish religion (“Jehovah!”), cult following, crucifixion…

        (For the benefit of all those who don’t know exactly what we’re talking about, it’s Monty Python’s Life of Brian. So now you both know 🙂


    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      REG: What’s the point of fighting for his right to have babies when he can’t have babies?!

      I think the technologists have taken the “can’t” out of that conversation.

  11. Heather Hastie
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    If Lauren Taylor was just doing this to practice so she didn’t stuff up in the real world, I could understand that. However, as the commenter to the story said, it seems it’s more about virtue signalling.

    I think we should respect people choices about how they wish to be referred to. I also think that they should tell me if I get it wrong so I can apologize and get it right in future. If I still get it wrong sometimes it won’t be deliberate or malicious or anything like that, just habit. When you’re in the flow of conversation, those things take over whether we want them to or not.

    • Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      One question, though, Heather. There are people who think that they’re more animal than human (“otherkins”). Should we respect their wish that they be known as unicorns, or foxes, and use the appropriate pronoun. If not, why not?

      • Cindy
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink



        My 2cents..if folks want to modify their bodies and live as otherkin that’s ok. If it makes them happy I don’t see an issue with it. I will even use the right pronouns. It doesn’t cost anything to be courteous.

        Where society as a whole runs into trouble is when some folks want to impose their idiosyncratic definitions on the rest of us, in a manner that could be potentially harmful.

        • jay
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

          This is a point. Where does the indulgent madness end?

          If they believe they’re a cat, or space alien, they have that right. But the rest of us have the right not to buy into their delusion. Or when a school system is REQUIRED to violate the privacy of a class of girls rather than have some boy with issues (or more likely his parents have issues) feel ‘different’ or ‘left out’. Face it kid, you might be gay but you’re NOT a girl.

          I really resent being told that I am required to think that Caitlyn Jenner is ACUTALLY a woman.

          It gets worse, though. There are a number of cases like the 40 something man who insists he’s an 11 year old girl. That starts to be downright creepy.

          • Cindy
            Posted April 7, 2016 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

            It gets worse, though. There are a number of cases like the 40 something man who insists he’s an 11 year old girl. That starts to be downright creepy.

            That sounds similar to Stefonknee Wolscht. She is a 52 year old father of 7 who one day left her family to live her ‘authentic’ self as a 6yo girl. She dresses like a stripper and meets bikers on fetlife (a fetish site). This is what most 6yo girls do, right?

            Unfortunately, the stupid SJWs have decided that Stefonknee and others like her are wonderful spokeswomen for the trans community. Not realizing that this only harms true transexuals, who then get tarred with the same brush. I wrote about this in another article, but basically, declaring that woman = anyone who says they are – can cause real, demonstrable harm. The greater public at large will associate folks like Stefonknee with what it means to be trans, and this will only cause the religious right to dig in their heels further regarding their opposition to trans rights. And the SJWs, in a rush to signal their virtue, see nothing wrong with women like Stefonknee flashing their privates in the woman’s locker room. Transexuals, the folks with actual dysphoria, the folks who get the surgery, have every right to be treated as women, imo. Transvestite fetishists can stay the hell out of women only safe spaces.

            Or when a school system is REQUIRED to violate the privacy of a class of girls

            Yeah, I recently researched that. The trans girl, Lila Perry, was given a special gender neutral bathroom. She refused, because not being able to shower or pee with the girls did not validate her identity. She claimed that being given her own space was ‘dehumanizing’. Make of that what you will. The lack of concern for the privacy of the girls is not unexpected in these situations.

        • Merilee
          Posted April 8, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

          I wonder if it robbed Its own bank to pay for the procedure. Its poor kid! Or maybe he loves to tell his friends that his dad/mom is a dragon?

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know Jerry. I’ve never really got my head around that one, and I’ve never some across someone who feels like that. I assume (but don’t know if this is correct) that this is a form of mental illness. I’d want to know from a psychiatrist what their advice is I think.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          I’m with Heather. They’re bonkers.

          It’s one thing to sympathise with animals, and even to like animals a lot more than people. I can quite understand that.

          There may even be a very few people who have been raised by animals in the wild (plenty of legends, but whether it ever happened in reality I don’t know). But even they, if they later came in contact with human society and learned to speak, I would expect them to realise – from observation – that they are in fact a member of the human species and in human language they are NOT a fox.

          I suppose anyone is entitled to give themselves any name that they like, and if someone wants to change their name to Reynard-the-fox they can. Or Unit-9-bzzt-pterodactyl-beeble-beeble-clonk. Or whatever. Whether anyone else should be expected to remember their weird preferences is another matter. But if they actually believe they’re physically or mentally animals then IMO they’ve got a screw loose.

          And in particular, anyone who gets all uptight about whatever personal pronoun someone might use of them** is a bit too full of themself.

          (**Always provided the user isn’t deliberately using the ‘wrong’ one in an insulting way).

          P.S. What is the appropriate pronoun for a fox? ‘It’?

          • Cindy
            Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

            I think it is a form of escapism. I know two folks who are otherkin. Both identify as kitties. Both come from abusive, fundie homes where they did not have any freedom ot friends and were constantly criticized.

            I have heard of younger children identifying as otherkin, but that might just be because it is a fad now. There are probably folks who *strongly* identify for deep psychological reasons and then those who just have fun with it. The young people who frequent tumblr might just think it’s cool without necessarily being mentally ill.
            I have made fun of otherkin in the past but that is because some of them do act like jerks. The old “if you do not accept my identity you are a shitlord and you deserve to DIAF.”. I have little patience for self important narcissists.

            • infiniteimproobabili
              Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

              Is ‘otherkin’ an actual thing?

              I did sound a bit redneck in that comment, I think.

              If people from terrible backgrounds feel so dreadfully insecure, and that identification gives them comfort, then I sympathise. If it brings them solace for a while then fine.
              But I suppose they do have to realise that “The world will not stop for you”. If they’re ever going to be free to go anywhere they choose, they will have to realise that the world will take them at face value and move on.

              Any who do it because they think it’s an interesting affectation – my ‘bonkers’ remark still applies.


              • Cindy
                Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

                A friend of mine was reading a reddit thread to me the other night – on otherkin – and a couple of quotes stood out. The first one, that otherkin might be trans people who find it easier to be otherkin than come out as trans is an interesting possibility:

                As a trans person, I’ve got to agree. I feel like coming out as otherkin would be a lot worse than coming out as trans (and being trans is a shitty deal in todays society.) At least some people can understand dysphoria and being transgender. Pretty much nobody outside tumblr can understand thinking you’re a fucking tiger on the inside. There are also a lot of people who identify as both trans and otherkin

                I think otherkin in general just have very shitty lives and very, very low self-esteem. This combination leads to the perfect storm to create the escapism fantasy (which develops into delusion) that they’re an animal. The animals reflect what they need to believe they are. Wolves are strong and mysterious. Squirrels are cute and chattery. Cats are aloof and cool.

                The second one got me thinking about the two folks I know who identify as kitties:

                I never thought I’d post something like this 10 years ago.

                I used to identify as otherkin/therian. Wolf, go figure. I only really ever told my closest friends about it.

                Looking back, I think it was my own way of relating to the world. In a very big way, I was unhappy and dissatisfied with my life due to my living situation with overbearing/abusive parents and a feeling that nobody understood me. I was socially outcast all through school and had few friends. I was into magick, astral projection, the occult, etc for a time, perhaps as a means to try to find control that I didn’t have.

                It’s funny. Now, it’s so clear that I’m not this thing I thought I was, but then, I just knew with everything I had that I was supposed to be a wolf in a human body. That nature had somehow made a mistake. I shunned my human form and had a lot of self-loathing. I grabbed onto anything that felt weird or different about me that I could use as justification to myself for believing what I felt and I clung to it fiercely.

                Honestly, I look back and wonder if I was dealing with a moderate psychosis over that span of my teenage years. It isn’t even a thought in my mind today.

                These days, I’m a well-adjusted adult (and veteran) with plenty of friends, a decent social life, and my own business.

                If you have any questions you’d like to ask, please do.

                Edit: I’m a straight, white male. No transgender proclivities here.

                Double random edit: I spent some time in the therian/otherkin communities, mostly observing. You wouldn’t believe the fighting on who’s “faking” and “not real”. And the physical transformation claims.

                For the Squirrel lovers! Read the whole site it rocks:


              • Richard
                Posted April 8, 2016 at 9:14 am | Permalink

                “I did sound a bit redneck in that comment, I think.”

                Actually, I thought you just sounded sane.

      • Merilee
        Posted April 8, 2016 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        What’s the appropriate pronoun for a unicorn?

  12. tubby
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I was in a class recently where it took six weeks for people to figure out I wasn’t a guy named Tom. It was funny (to me at least), but I suppose I just fell into the trap of society imposing a binary gender and name on me.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted April 8, 2016 at 4:44 am | Permalink

      Who are you, then?

  13. James Walker
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Did she think to ask her cats what their gender identity is? Or what pronoun they want to be referred by? How oppressive!

    • Merilee
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Your Highness, of course🐾🐾

      Or even Your Purrrrfection.

  14. Cindy
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    This person is non-binary but you would not know it to look at xir because xie makes a conscious choice to dress quite feminine.

    Assuming that xie is a woman based on xir gender expression is a microaggression. Xie is a very special snowflake.

  15. Ann German
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of oppression . . . why does she refer to the cats living with her as “my,” when, if a cat were asked, (s)he would be amazed to be considered “owned.”

  16. Historian
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t we call everyone asshole? The term accurately describes virtually everybody and the problem is solved.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Pass the bag. The colostomy bag, not the sick bag.

  17. eric
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Her explanation seems somewhat reasonable to me and not virtue signaling at all. She’s practicing good habits with her cats. Her reasoning is if she does that, those good speaking habits will come easier to her when talking to people. Its sort of like someone practicing speech without “um”s in front of their cat: you’re not doing it for the cats’ sake.

    Getting tetchy about the vet visit though, does seem to me to be somewhat virtue signaling. Its not ‘cis-gender-privilege’ to tell the vet your cat has a urinary tract infection in its penis (or whatever). You’re just accurately describing the health issue. Give an accurate description of the biological/health problem, and move on.

  18. Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Add me to those calling this nonsense and agreeing with the posted comment that this all about Lauren Taylor signalling her virtue.

    Carl Kruse

  19. Zwirko
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    The use of “they” and “them” as singular pronouns is fairly common vernacular in parts of Scotland, although for very different reasons, and thus sounds very natural to my ears.

    • Lars
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      I was raised by Scots and this doesn’t seem unusual to me either.
      There was also the use of “it” as an affectionate diminutive – mainly used to refer to children, but my parents used it to refer to one another (not so much when the other was within earshot, though, as I recall).

  20. jeffery
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    These people are, in my estimation, clinically insane. This is about a complete rejection of reality in that epic quest to make sure no one is “offended” or “oppressed”- they have completely forgotten that YOU DON’T HAVE THE “RIGHT” TO NOT BE OFFENDED.
    I read an article entitled, “Don’t ask me about my junk” the other day, by a ?????? (they never would say) who talked like everyone around them should adapt to THEM and their refusal to be “pigeonholed” into any kind of gender-ID. Interestingly enough, they made the statement, “I present as feminine”- in my thinking, this is attributing a certain “look” and set of physical characteristics to one gender; isn’t that what they are supposedly against?

    Utter ridiculousness! This ???? went on to indicate that they felt that any form of “gender-ID’ing” had no place in her relationships with others. Suppose some guy was attracted to, and wanted to start dating this “them”- wouldn’t he be entitled to know what he was getting into, so as to not waste all that effort if he’s not comfortable with “what” he might eventually get, after much time and effort? Or is it up to him to say, on the first date (or before): “Say- I just want to let you know that I’m not comfortable with rectal sex; is that going to be a problem with our relationship?” The answer might give him a little more information, perhaps!

    Geez- and I thought that old “Pat” sketch on SNL with Janine Garafalo was confusing!

    • jaxkayaker
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      Pat was Julia Sweeney, not Janine Garofalo.

      • jeffery
        Posted April 8, 2016 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

        You’re right- sorry! I loved them both.

  21. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    virtue signalling

    There’s a moderate chunk of terminology in the evolutionary ecology business about “truth” in signalling – whether a signal that is sent is a true indicator of genetic/ physiological fitness. I can’t remember the details though, and need to go and get some milk for my tea, so I’ll let it rest. But I’m pretty sure that this “virtue signalling” is untrue signalling.

  22. Adam M.
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I have a hard time with this kind of thing. While I don’t want to be needlessly offensive, I also don’t want to be pressured into saying things that I believe are counterfactual, and transsexualism, transracialism (e.g. Thomas Jenkins, Rachel Dolezal), and transspeciesism (e.g. otherkin) all enter into that territory to greater or lesser extents.

  23. E.A. Blair
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    When my wife was alive, we had three cats, all male, and they were “the boys” (neutered, of course). The last of the boys died in 2012, and my current two cats are females (spayed) and they are – you guessed it – “the girls”. I have found distinct behavioral differences between male and female cats, and I also know that they don’t give a damn what I call them (although Isa does respond to her name) as long as the food and water is there and the litter gets scooped and there are sufficient cuddles for both.

    I do have a solution, though, for people who are searching for a gender-neutral pronoun for the English language. Forget stuff like “Xe” or “zhe”. This is a contraction of the phrase “he or she or it” and it’s spelled “h’orsh’it”.

  24. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I was trying to figure how you ‘raised cats’ in a gender-neutral way. But it seems she just calls them ‘they’.

    What immediately springs to mind** is, do the cats know they’re gender-neutral? Because if not, she’ll shortly have a lot more little cats to raise…

    (**My mind anyway, which is obsessed with non-gender-neutral events)


  25. Richard
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Anybody ever read “Left Hand of Darkness” by U.K.Leguin? But with us earth bound mammals, male and female are a reality. We can always adopt a gender neutral pronoun from another language for cultural reasons.

  26. Barbara Radcliffe
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Sorry if I am a bit of a grammar dictator!

    If ‘they’ is used as a singular preposition, should not it be ‘they is’, ‘they was’ and so on rather than ‘they were’?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 7, 2016 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      Interesting point.

      I think it’s a case of wrong-either-way.

      ‘They was’ sounds uneducated. So – as in so many instances – what ‘sounds’ right wins and ‘they were’ is preferred.

      “I asked the stranger if they were lost”


  27. Doug
    Posted April 7, 2016 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    How far does this go? If a person claims to “really” be an extraterrestrial trapped in a human body, are we required to humor him or her? Or Jesus? How about if someone uses a handicapped parking space saying “I identify as handicapped” despite having no disability? At what point, if any, do we say, “No, you’re not [whatever it is you claim to be]?”

    • Richard
      Posted April 8, 2016 at 1:32 am | Permalink

      Good question . When you figure it out,please don’t be selfish and let everybody know. So far, no answers. Meanwhile, we have no choice only to be what we claim to be.

      • GBJames
        Posted April 8, 2016 at 7:08 am | Permalink

        Well, many of us would argue that we’ve got no choice at all.

    • Richard
      Posted April 8, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      Do you mean to tell me that I’m NOT a Klingon?

      Help! Help! I’m being repressed!

      (Different Richard, BTW)

  28. EvolvedDutchie
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    Every time I think I’ve read it all and seen it all, the internet finds new ways to surprise and boggle the mind.

    • Richard
      Posted April 8, 2016 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      Well, I had never of “otherkin” before! I did once see a ‘CSI’ episode that featured a “furries and plushies” convention, but I thought that was just something the program-makers had invented.

      • Sarr
        Posted April 8, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

        Well, the Furry Fandom sure is a real thing, (I am part of it myself, in fact!), but the portrayal of it in CSI is extremely inaccurate. Furries also tend to be confused with otherkin. The difference is that a furry is a fan of anthropomorphic animals, and often has an anthropomorphic animal character to represent themselves (a fur-sona), whereas otherkin literally believe that they are an animal, usually on some “spiritual” level.

        The furry fandom is weird, I’ll admit that. 😛 But we’re not delusional like otherkin…



        • Richard
          Posted April 8, 2016 at 9:20 am | Permalink

          And I thought Trekkies a little odd…

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted April 8, 2016 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

            Well, on reflection, Furry Fandom is no different from (some) Scifi/fantasy fans who dress up as Kirk or Wonder Woman or whatever for ‘cons’


        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted April 8, 2016 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

          “the portrayal of it in CSI is extremely inaccurate.”

          Gosh, what a surprise! Anything in CSI is more evidence of the hyperactive imaginations of the writers than of any shred of reality.

          I prefer proper sci fi, at least it implicitly admits it’s entirely fictional.


  29. Mike
    Posted April 8, 2016 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    I think a better way would be to label Pet Owners with these daft ideas ,nutters.

  30. Posted April 8, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Brings to mind, tangentially, an old joke. An elderly parishioner called her priest to report a miracle. Her virgin cat, Mary, gave birth to kittens. The priest, curious, paid a visit to get the story. While the woman was swearing an oath that her indoor cat never left the house and could not have been inseminated, the priest spotted a large tom cat, preening its whiskers, on the back of a sofa. “What about him” he asked. “Oh, he doesn’t count” she replied. “They are sister and brother.”

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted April 8, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      I once had a friend who took in a pregnant cat; only one kitten in the litter survived, what my friend thought was a little female. When the kitten grew up, he (yes, it was a male) knocked up the three female cats in the household, including his own mother. A few months later, there were twenty-three kittens and five adult cats in one house.

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