BC Government Joins Trend of Erasing Gendered Terms

March 24, 2021 Updated: March 26, 2021

The British Columbia government has removed gendered language from its regulations as part of a broader movement driving similar changes in other parts of Canada and the Western world.

In early March, the province announced that it had eliminated 600 instances of gendered language from regulations across 15 ministries.

“Gendered words have been changed to inclusive language that acknowledges gender equity and diversity. For example, terms like ‘he’ or ‘she,’ ‘brother’ and ‘wife’ have been updated with more neutral language to consider all gender identities,” a March 10 press release read.

The B.C. government’s move is part of a trend.

In Alberta under the previous NDP government, the province’s Ministry of Education in 2016 issued guidelines for best practices in respecting “diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.” One indicator of this best practice was that “school forms, websites, letters, and other communications use non-gendered and inclusive language (e.g., parents/guardians, caregivers, families, partners, ‘student’ or ‘their’ instead of Mr., Ms., Mrs., mother, father, him, her, etc.),” the ministry stated in its guidelines publication.

The federal government has also adopted gender-inclusive writing in its correspondence, noting on its Language Portal website that this type of writing “is increasingly becoming standard practice in correspondence.” Salutations like “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam” are to be avoided. And “spouse” is to replace “husband” or “wife,” while “person” is to be used instead of “man” or “woman.”

Paul Adams, a professor emeritus of social work at the University of Hawaii, says there is an ideological undercurrent in these changes.

“We don’t [have the freedom to] choose our own family, our language, our culture. The idea is to treat us as if we’re all autonomous, self-directed, self-creating individuals with nothing between us and the almighty state,” Adams said in an interview.

It leaves people with few options, he noted, when “all the intermediate structures of society, of family, community, church, and so on, are erased and subjected to the state.”

On Jan. 4, the U.S. House of Representatives implemented code of conduct changes that saw gendered language swapped for gender-inclusive terms in its official language. Besides “father” and “mother” becoming “parent,” “uncle” and “aunt” are now referred to as “parent’s sibling,” “son-in-law” and “daughter-in-law” become “child-in-law,” “nephew” and “niece” are now called “sibling’s child,” and so on.

In February, the local National Health Service trust in Brighton, England, directed staff to replace the term “breastfeeding” with “breast/chestfeeding” in its internal communications and meetings. Among other new terms listed in a document on the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust website, which the BBC called “trans-friendly terms,” are “mothers and birthing parents” instead of “mother” and “father or second biological parent” instead of “father.”

The Australian Senate, on the other hand, passed a motion on March 17 banning the use of gender-neutral language such as “chestfeeding,” “lactating parent,” and “menstruators” in official government materials, describing it as “distorted language.”

Philip Salzman, a professor emeritus of anthropology at McGill University, told The Epoch Times that these ideas have gotten traction as a result of having trickled down from universities.

“Because all this really sweeps into universities, it naturally expands to every other place: to government, to law, to schoolteachers,” he said.

He pointed out that ironies abound as an intellectual class imposes its will on others in the name of eliminating class distinctions, ambitious in its attempts to gain status within its peer group while claiming to believe in equality.

“And the ordinary people, nobody [among the elites] cares about them, and this stuff is forced on top of them,” Salzman said.