A mom at Target got frustrated after a fellow shopper kept referring to her son by the gender-neutral pronoun “they/them.”
In the video, Bridget Beck (@bridgetjbeck) said she needed “some validation” after going through what she felt was an uncomfortable interaction with a fellow customer at Target.
She explains that she was out shopping in the cart with her son, and a couple came up to her to comment about how cute her son was.
“They’re so cute. How old are they?” the couple inquired.
“He’s one,” Beck said.
“Oh my goodness, they’re so cute,” they continued.
“Thank you, yes he is,” Beck said, stressing the “he” so they would pick up on his pronoun.
But this back and forth between Beck and the couple went on, with them continuing to refer to him with a gender-neutral pronoun and Beck subtly pointing out that he’s a boy.
“I’m just annoyed because I get if you wanna be politically correct or if you don’t wanna misgender or whatever, I get it. I mean, I clearly think he looks like a boy, but I get it if you don’t wanna do that. But I’ve literally said four or five times, he’s a boy, and you keep saying ‘their, their, their,'” Beck says in the clip.
She got even more frustrated when they complimented his “unisex” name. But Beck pointed out to viewers that to her, Declan is not a unisex name, nor was that the intention behind the name choice.
“I’ve clearly told you what his gender is. I’ve clearly told you he’s a boy. So why do you keep trying to push your views of ‘their’ on me? I don’t know. I was just so freaking annoyed. I was so angry,” Beck says.
As the public has more conversations about gender-neutral language, at least two schools of thought have clearly emerged. There are those who’ve adopted they/them pronouns into their vocabulary (though it was already used colloquially) and default to these pronouns when first meeting someone to avoid misgendering them. Then there are those who refuse to use this language and believe there are only two genders.
The people in Beck’s comment section largely fell on the latter side.
“My husband once told a lady while speaking about a person that unless there’s more than one of the person then he’s not using they/them,” a person said.
“You are not crazy! This would have drove me crazy too!” another wrote.
“I had a similar conversation with someone at build a bear and i wish i would’ve said something like yea my two year old is a boy and it’s pretty clear,” a commenter said.
@bridgetjbeck Am i crazy?! Like why?! #misgendered #hesaboy #targetchronicles #politicallycorrect #they #amicrazy ♬ original sound – Bridget Beck
While people can be assigned a sex of male, female, or intersex at birth, gender is a different concept. It refers to one’s internal identity and outward expression of that identity, per Psychology Today. Around 5% of young adults in the U.S. say their gender identity is different from their sex assigned at birth, according to the Pew Research Center. This includes both trans and/or nonbinary individuals, those who do not adhere to the gender binary.
“They” has been recognized as a singular pronoun in several dictionaries for years, and a Teen Vogue article notes that this usage has applied far longer in the English language than that. “They has been used as a singular pronoun since at least the late 14th century, as seen in the circa-1375 French poem “William the Werewolf,” and some argue it was likely in use much earlier,” author Desmond Meagley noted. “Other historical examples of gender-neutral pronouns range from literary — Jane Austen uses “they” in Pride and Prejudice — to medical, as when medical texts in the 1600s referred to individuals outside the gender binary as they/them.”
The Daily Dot reached out to Beck for comment via email.