If people prefer to be referred to by gender-free pronouns such as “Ze” and “hir,” and you don’t comply – you could be subject to legal penalty. And no, this is not The Onion.
The NYCHRL [New York City Human Rights Law] requires employers [landlords, and all businesses and professionals] to use an [employee’s, tenant’s, customer’s, or client’s] preferred name, pronoun and title (e.g., Ms./Mrs.) regardless of the individual’s sex assigned at birth, anatomy, gender, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on the individual’s identification.
Most individuals and many transgender people use female or male pronouns and titles. Some transgender and gender non-conforming people prefer to use pronouns other than he/him/his or she/her/hers, such as they/them/theirs or ze/hir. [Footnote: Ze and hir are popular gender-free pronouns preferred by some transgender and/or gender non-conforming individuals.] …
Examples of Violations
a. Intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title. For example, repeatedly calling a transgender woman “him” or “Mr.” after she has made clear which pronouns and title she uses …
Covered entities may avoid violations of the NYCHRL by creating a policy of asking everyone what their preferred gender pronoun is so that no individual is singled out for such questions and by updating their systems to allow all individuals to self-identify their names and genders. They should not limit the options for identification to male and female only.
The commission’s guidance is not a mere suggestion, though, it is law. So much so that “refusal to use a transgender employee’s preferred name, pronoun, or title may constitute unlawful gender-based harassment.”
Harassment is a strong word, especially given the fact that law requires businesses to prevent harassment, even among co-workers and patrons.
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