Examples of such “hate speech” that the signatories want banished from the internet include “targeted misgendering and deadnaming,” the latter being the practice of referring to a transgender person by their birth name rather than their chosen one. In a footnote, the letter links to an article declaring that the “relentless misgendering of Dr. Rachel Levine,” an assistant secretary for health and the first openly transgender Senate-confirmed government official, “is violence.” You know, violence, a category that now includes punching someone, stabbing them, and using the name on their birth certificate.
To be sure, deliberately misgendering and deadnaming are rude.
Many years ago, the philosopher Daniel Dennett wrote:
When you’re reading or skimming argumentative essays, especially by philosophers, here is a quick trick that may save you much time and effort, especially in this age of simple searching by computer: look for “surely” in the document, and check each occurrence. Not always, not even most of the time, but often the word “surely” is as good as a blinking light locating a weak point in the argument. Why? Because it marks the very edge of what the author is actually sure about and hopes readers will also be sure about. (If the author were really sure all the readers would agree, it wouldn’t be worth mentioning.) Being at the edge, the author has had to make a judgment call about whether or not to attempt to demonstrate the point at issue, or provide evidence for it, and—because life is short—has decided in favor of bald assertion, with the presumably well-grounded anticipation of agreement. Just the sort of place to find an ill-examined “truism” that isn’t true!
And so it has proved. “To be sure,” my ass. In this case, to use the terms “misgendering” and “deadnaming” in earnest is to concede the entire argument. First of all, outside of questions of grammatical structure, “gender” is a pointless term. When it comes to the sexes, let’s call “gender” what it is: another word for “stereotypes.” This used to be standard material for derivative stand-up comedians when I was young: “Men do things this way, but women do things this way!” Three decades and a lot of worthless dissertations later, this bilge is treated as something profound by lightweight academics and confused teenagers on TikTok. I don’t care if you “identify” with one set of stereotypes as opposed to another, any more than I care whether you’re a diehard fan of either Coke or Pepsi. Entertain whatever shallow, ridiculous thoughts you want, but don’t impose them on me and expect me to happily play along. If that makes me “rude,” so much the worse for politeness.