Republicans in Congress are offended by gender-inclusive language.
Led by Democrats, the House successfully passed a rules package on Monday night that will change the language in House rules to be more inclusive of people of all genders, including women and members of the LGBTQ community. But the new rules came without support from House Republicans, who slammed the changes.
Examples of the new, gender-inclusive language include using the word "chair" instead of "chairman" and swapping in "parent, child, sibling" for "mother, father, daughter, son, brother, sister. A press release from the House Rules Committee says the rule changes will "honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral." The House's analysis of all these changes states that the language will modernize language for the benefit of "members, delegates, resident commissioners, employees of the House, and their families."
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said the changes to gender-neutral words are "just consistent with an effort for the House, in the best tradition of the House, to reflect the gorgeous mosaic of the American people in the most sensitive fashion possible.
But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tweeted on Wednesday, "This is stupid. Signed, A father, son, and a brother."
Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), vice chair of the House Republican Conference, retweeted him.
And Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) said on Twitter, "Good to see Nancy is focused on the issues that people care about," with an emoji of a man putting his hand over his face.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), the chair of the House Rules Committee, responded to McCarthy, "Maybe if you read our rules, you would understand what's in them."
He added, "We list 'parents' instead of 'mother and father' to be more inclusive and efficient. Here's what's stupid — trying to mislead people to distract from Trump's utter failure of a presidency. Good luck with that."
Senators also chimed in on the inclusion of gender-neutral language, including Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).
Loeffler tweeted, "The far-left's priorities, everyone!"
Lummis said, "So the House is instituting Newspeak?" referring to totalitarian language featured in George Orwell's book "1984."
Several of the lawmakers who spoke out against language changes have well-known records of voting against LGBTQ rights and transgender people and nonbinary people's equality in particular and of perpetuating myths about transgender women as predators or perpetrators of fraud.
In 2019, Lesko spoke against the Equality Act, federal nondiscrimination legislation that advances the rights of LGBTQ people, and said it would "prioritize the rights of biological males over that of biological women."
On the same day, Buck compared doctors being asked to treat the children of same-sex parents to "Orthodox Jewish doctor whose grandparent was killed in the Holocaust" being asked to "work with a Nazi patient."
In 2016, Walker defended H.B. 2, a North Carolina bill that required people to use bathrooms and locker rooms according to the gender listed on their birth certificate, effectively policing transgender people and nonbinary people's bathroom use. He said, "The question I've asked several times, that can’t be answered, is, what if you have a sexual predator posing as transgender who wants to use the girls' restroom?"
That same year, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) said Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy persuaded Republican members of Congress who initially voted for a measure prohibiting federal contractors from anti-LGBTQ discrimination to instead vote against it.
Senators who objected to the language also have a history of transphobia. Loeffler introduced legislation in 2020 to exclude transgender girls from playing on the sports team of their gender. In 2016, Lummis sponsored a bill that would have given vouchers to families if parents disagreed with the Obama administration's guidance on protecting the rights of transgender students, so that they could be homeschooled or go to a private school. The Trump administration later rescinded the guidance.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.