Celebrate gender non-conformity, not pronouns

On the 31st of May,  Merched Cymru tweeted in response to seeing photographs of the distribution of ‘pronoun badges’ at the Urdd Eisteddfod.

We have concerns that this emphasis upon gender identity places pressure upon gender-nonconforming children to define themselves via pronouns, when their identities are not yet fully developed.

We were invited to provide a comment to BBC Wales, which was cited in both Welsh and English  language articles on the topic. We were disappointed but not surprised that our views were reported as a criticism of support for young people who are same-sex attracted and/or gender non-conforming. The Welsh media has to date made precious little effort to understand gender-critical positions.

Our full statements can be found below.

Merched Cymru comment to BBC Wales regarding the promotion of pronoun badges at Urdd Eisteddfod

Merched Cymru supports meaningful initiatives to tackle sexism, homophobia and gender stereotyping. We believe that children should be free to be themselves and not be labelled for not conforming to regressive sexist stereotypes of how a boy or girl should be. Focusing on pronouns does nothing to tackle these stereotypes, instead promoting the unscientific belief that a ‘gender identity’ and stereotypes are more significant than whether we are physically male or female.

It is therefore not appropriate for an organisation such as the Urdd to push a contested ideology that has no basis in fact and is at odds with what is known about child development. The Interim Cass Report on gender identity services is clear that schools should not socially transition children as it is not a neutral act – changing pronouns is a part of this. Normalising an obsession with pronouns is potentially damaging to all children whether they conform to gender expectations or not.

Sylwad Merched Cymru i BBC Cymru parthed hyrwyddo bathodynnau rhagenw yn Eisteddfod yr Urdd

Mae Merched Cymru fel mudiad yn cefnogi mentrau ystyrlon i fynd i’r afael â rhywiaeth, homoffobia a stereoteipio ar sail rhyw. Credwn y dylai plant fod yn rhydd i fod eu hunain heb cael eu labelu am beidio â chydymffurfio â stereoteipiau rhywiaethol atchweliadol ynglyn a sut y dylai bachgen neu ferch fod, gwisgo neu ymddwyn. Nid yw canolbwyntio ar ragenwau yn gwneud dim i fynd i’r afael â’r stereoteipiau hyn, gan hyrwyddo’r gred anwyddonol bod ‘hunaniaeth rhywedd’ a stereoteipiau yn fwy arwyddocaol nag os ydym yn wrywaidd neu’n fenywaidd yn gorfforol.

Nid yw’n briodol felly i fudiad fel yr Urdd wthio ideoleg dadleuol sydd heb unrhyw sail mewn gwirionedd ac sy’n groes i’r hyn a wyddwn am ddatblygiad y plentyn. Efallai bod yr Urdd yn tybio mai gweithred bositif, gadarnhaol yw hwn a’u bod yn awyddus i ymddangos yn ffasiynol a chynhwysol. Ond mae Adroddiad Interim Cass ar wasanaethau hunaniaeth rhywedd yn glir na ddylid trawsnewid rhywedd plant yn gymdeithasol gan nad yw’n weithred niwtral – mae newid rhagenwau yn rhan o hyn. Gall normaleiddio obsesiwn â rhagenwau fod yn niweidiol i bob plentyn p’un a yw’n cydymffurfio â disgwyliadau rhywedd ai peidio.