An Open Letter to the National Post:
Dear National Post,
Thank you for addressing two very important, incredibly personal topics for the queer community: preferred pronouns and religious conversion therapy.
‘Zhe’ & ‘Hir’: Toronto School Board guidelines on gender identity allow for non-masculine/feminine pronouns by Megan O’Toole and Graeme McNaughton, was published on Oct. 4, 2012 and two days later, on Oct. 6, ‘Pray away the gay’: Conversion therapy groups face heat over charity status was out.
I wish I could commend your paper for making our community’s rights heard but, ironically, your paper did a huge disservice for queer Canadians.
My dear friend Beni Hopfe was interviewed about a personal, traumatic, experience about going through a religious “gay intervention”.
And here is where the irony lies: Beni is gender queer and uses gender neutral pronouns “Xe and Hir”.
I realize these stories were written by different people and Sarah Boesveld might not have even read the story Megan O’Toole and Graeme McNaughton wrote. That is why editors ensure continuity and proof for errors.
When Boesveld interviewed Beni, she didn’t ask what hir preferred pronouns are. She went on the tone of Beni’s voice. Beni has also never identified as a lesbian; xe first identified as “gay” and now identifies as “queer”.
I understand that this seems like and honest mistake, an innocent error and not meant to insult anyone but when the “Xie and Hir“ story is right on the home page of your site, loud and proud to see what amazing headway Toronto is making (which I commend), it was excruciating reading Beni referred to as “she” and “Ms. Hopfe”.
I know Beni and the struggle xe has had with hir family, let alone having people address hir by proper pronouns. Then the story was published for all of Canada, let alone Beni’s family who were the very ones who subjected hir to the bible thumping intervention, and xe is disrespected on a national scale.
You spoke to Beni to personalize your story about the horrific treatment some queer Canadians go through … and yet, all credibility is lost because this mistake, as honest as it may seem, is as ignorant as the people who were waving their Bibles at hir.
As a national news paper that gives allusion to be campaigning for my community’s equality and respect, I have to ask, are these two stories simply treats of the week or does the National Post really want to see change in Canada?
Was Beni simply a source for you to use to personalize your story? Do you understand xe was nationally misgendered?
No, CP Style does not have a chapter on transgender and gender queer identities but this is an example of when respecting individual identity over rules grammar laws, especially when this very same grammatical “discovery” was commended in your paper a mere two days before.
National Post: you misgendered my friend, my sibling, on a national scale. If you’re going to write for queer rights and identity recognition, please, consider asking all your sources what their preferred pronouns are.
Otherwise, you’re just as ignorant as the very people you’re trying to educate.