WASHINGTON, D.C. – Recently-reelected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has introduced a new set of rules to govern the 117th Congress, which were passed by the House on Monday; among the various aspects of this new “Code of Conduct” is a ban on gendered language such as “mother, father, son, daughter” from official language, although such terms would not be banned from general usage.
Pelosi noted in a statement that the change was made to “honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral.”
The rule does not ban the use of gendered terms in everyday speech in Congress – which would be outright censorship – but instead strives to render official language and terms to be gender-neutral and more inclusive. For example, the Office of the Whistleblower Ombudsman will be re-named the Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds.
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However, many Republicans criticized the move as unnecessary, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blasting it as “stupid.” Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) also spoke out on the change, claiming that the ban on gendered terms in official language denies “the very biological existence of women” and accused lawmakers of being “out of touch” with what U.S. citizens actually need.
“Their first act as this new Congress could have been to make sure elderly Americans are able to get the COVID vaccine now alongside front-line health care workers,” she said. “Instead of doing something that could actually help save people’s lives, they are choosing instead to say ‘You can’t say mother or father.'”
And yet other commentators took Democrats to task on the new rules, pointing out that many of them still utilize gendered terms on social media, including Pelosi referring to herself as “mother, grandmother” in her Twitter bio.