In a new policy change, the Canadian Armed Forces will no longer be using gendered pronouns.
April 12, 2020 – Libby Emmons and Nico Johnson
In a new policy change, the Canadian Armed Forces will no longer be using gendered pronouns in official reports.
Documents obtained by conservative commentator Aaron Gunn and presented to The Post Millennial reveal that military personnel are no longer allowed to write he or she, but must replace it with they/them pronouns, regardless of an individual’s preferred pronouns.
Issued via Canadian Forces General Message, these changes that deprive a person of their sex based identity in writing are meant to encourage gender diversity. In reports on personnel, no superior will be allowed to use pronouns that designate or refer to a person’s biological sex. The notice reads:
“Based on a recent CAF cultural and normative shift to promote gender diversity and associated inclusiveness, CFPAS [Canadian Forces Personnel Appraisal System] writing policy and guide will also reflect this new reality where sex, gender identity, and gender expression are prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Forthwith the use of gender pronouns such as quote he/his and she/her unquote are not to be used when drafting pers. Members will be referred to by rank and name or by using gender-neutral pronouns such as they/their.”
In practice, superiors, who are required to write personnel reports for those who serve under them, will not be allowed to use the pronouns of that person’s choosing if they identify as male or female and use sex-based pronouns. Instead, everyone will be referred to with the accepted gender neutral, plural pronouns of “they, their, them.”
It is not yet known how Canadian Armed Forces personnel will react to the deprivation of their sex-based identity in their personnel documents. It is currently not clear what the consequences may be for officials who do not follow the new protocol.
In 2016, Bill C-16 was passed amending the Canadian Human Rights Act. It added gender expression to the list of groups that are protected from discrimination, as well as adjusting hate speech and hate crime laws to include protections for gender expression.
While use of preferred pronouns have been considered a necessary element of the promotion and inclusion of gender diversity, this change by the CAF is the first time that preferred pronouns are being officially discounted in favour of a catch-all, gender neutral pronoun system.