Gender Identity and Freedom of Speech
The views of professor of psychology, Jordan Peterson at the University of Toronto on the issue of gender identity and his beliefs, position and refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns has sparked debates. The arguments by the professor have arisen a lot of objective and subjective intuition on his stand that his freedom of speech and need to become politically correct cannot determine by use of pronouns. Discussions are presented in different articles by Ellen Brait, a staff reporter for the Star magazine and Christie Blatchford of the national post. Under the two articles on the debate about the transgender issue and identity-related concerns are the attempts to define some basic terms such as gender, sex and gender identity. The definitions according to the American Psychological Association is that gender is the attitude feelings and behaviour of a person as viewed by a culture in context and can be aligned to the individual’s biological sex.
The topic of gender identity is then defined as the personal sense of perception as male or female or transgender while biological sex is an individual’s biological status as male or female or intersex. The articles serve the common interest of offering opinions on the views of the professor to publicly deny by use of social media and YouTube videos. First off, Ellen’s presentation on the issue is that the idea of freedom of speech s clashing with gender identity, at least to some extent. The YouTube lecture series released by the professor at the University of Toronto share a common basis with the one presented by Christie that if the arguments presented by the professor is about his rights to express himself freely, then the battle is lost on moral grounds. The good professor according to Ellen refused to use non-binary pronouns- words other than he and she and criticized political correctness (Ellen 2016).
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Some of the emerging issue under discussion while addressing the matter was Canadian human rights code and criminal code terming the legislation itself as an anti-law. Another concern raised by the professor is that some definitions by the Ontario rights commission are that it defined gender identity as a personal sense of being a woman, man or both, neither or anywhere along the gender spectrum (Christie, 2016). He points out in no uncertain terms that he does not agree or believe that it is intelligent and necessary for the government has its authority to mandate words that its citizens should speak. According to the second, article, Christie takes note of the worry that Peterson has over the issue of gender identity and his refusal and pledge not to use gender-neutral words and pronouns as an illegal conduct.
The reactions the published series of YouTube videos received constitute most of the discussion by the two authors. For instance one of the emphasized responses was the action the University Department through the dean writing a letter of warning to Professor Peterson and has since put his career at risks like getting dismissed by the university administration due to his string and persistent position on the topic of gender identity. The format of the debate was such that the professor was pitched against other professors from various departments like the department of gender, race, sexuality and social justice and the department of sexual diversity studies at the university. The professor gives an example of according to Christie that uses of the noun they instead of the use of other pronouns like he and she for instance throughout Mary’s twenty-seven years in the company, they served in topmost administrative roles (Christie, 2016).
According to Peterson, he refuses to use them and prefers to use her in its place just to sound politically correct and acceptable to the equality and sexuality department and other interest groups. The position of Peterson was met with unwavering disapproval in the debate as other speakers were for the proposed changes and constitutional legislation that address the issue of equality and use of an all-inclusive word such as the?. As one of the proponents of the idea of sexual equality, doctor Bryson implied and referred to Peterson as this man throughout the debate because he was against the changes that aimed at making the transgender people feel represented and applied to when communicating. The need to use the pronouns that make them included and welcome in the society since they could be our siblings, our children and hence the need to treat them with respect and decency that humans deserve.
Christie also gives a case presented by Bryson on the position of Professor Peterson to pledge not to use the words as designed in the clauses as deliberate production of ignorance concerning a precarious minority group constituting evidence of the most unethical abnegation of the responsibility of academicians (Christie, 2016). In simple terms, the concept is that education should contribute to the progressive well-being of human beings and aim at making their lives better instead of widening the imaginary rifts that exist by using unconsciously divisive terms such referring to an individual using pronouns. The statements and strong opinions of Peterson when he alluded during the debate that it is one thing to tell the people that there are certain words they can?t say, but it is the entirely different thing to tell them that they are words they have to say.
The non-binary pronoun they and its application under the subjects of gender identity could be a non-issue in some places, but it becomes an entirely emotional subject as witnessed in the situation above. People against the use of binary pronouns like he and she in the debate are also against the premise of Peterson asserting that it is a basic human decency to address someone how they would like to be addressed. Moreover, she urges people in the position to influence another people?s perception on the topic of gender identity as the professor has on his students to stop letting the proponents of such changes down.
To support his stand on the subject, Ellen brings argument by the professor that it is narcissistic to demand that people address you in a certain manner when they only want to have an initial conversation with you. He continued to assert that all that is important is freedom to say whatever one feels and thinks and believe that is fundamental. The professor according to Christie has gone ahead and said that the psychological association is free to come after his clinical license as he stands justified of every word he uttered. In whichever capacity, one views the subject of gender identity it is important to note the need to compel people’s speech and guiding them into becoming decent and respectful humans.
Christie, Blatchford: nationalpost.com/opinion/christie-blatchford-if-gender-identity-debate-at-u-of-t-was-about-free-speech-then-the-battle-is-truly-lost: 2016
Ellen Brait: when-beliefs-about-gender-identity-and-views-on-freedom-of-speech-clash.html 2016