With Pronoun Fail, Woke State Department Scores Own Goal
The State Department’s latest woke move backfired so spectacularly it could have been manufactured by A.C.M.E. Around noon on Thursday, pronouns began to appear in the “From” line of email sent by all State Department employees. The problem was, many of the pronouns were wrong. Associated Press reporter Matt Lee raised the issue during a briefing by Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel, who wasn’t aware of the change. Within three hours, the State Department’s Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) was “working to correct this immediately,” according to a State Department spokesperson.
Save this three-minute exchange for when you need a laugh because the chaotic crosstalk and suspenseful way Lee meanders to the punchline produce the perfect comedic effect.
“Where it says ‘From,’ … it will say ‘him/he/his’ or ‘her/she/hers.’ Why?” Lee asked. “This is not an optional thing. This is something that has been arbitrarily imposed. I understand that people can add their pronouns, attached — if they wanted them — to a signature before. But this is not something that anyone has a choice in now.” He continued, “The problem is that a lot of them, or at least some of them — so far, so far as I’ve been able to tell — are wrong. They’re giving the wrong pronouns. So, men are being identified as women, and women are being identified as men.”
The Washington Free Beacon independently verified the pronoun faux paus later Thursday. Adam Kredo reported, “The pronouns appear to have been randomly assigned, with men being given female pronouns and vice versa, according to several emails viewed by the Free Beacon. No reports of gender-neutral pronouns attached to email have emerged.”
Before you mistake the AP’s Lee for a conservative, he added later, “this has nothing to do with whatever transgender or anything like that. But, it’s ridiculous. … If people want to have their own whatever pronoun on, attached to it, [that] is fine. But it should be a choice, right? Not something that is — that the State Department imposes on people.” In other words, Lee has the same leftist worldview as the Biden State Department, which accepts the fiction that people can choose their own gender and pronouns. But even from that shared worldview, he pronounced the State Department’s implementation of universal subject-line pronouns to be “ridiculous.”
After much hemming and hawing, it was clear Patel wasn’t aware of the update and wasn’t about to say anything about it beyond vague platitudes. “Can you look into it? Because I’d like to know why … this cannot be an optional thing for people to do,” Lee finally asked. “Can you get an explanation and find out?”
That exchange seems to have happened shortly before 2:00 p.m. In under an hour, the State Department had scrambled into high gear to correct the error. At 2:35 pm, the State Department’s head spokesperson Matthew Miller tweeted, “the State Department’s Bureau of Information Resource Management (IRM) is aware of the recent issues with user profiles on Microsoft Outlook and working to remedy the situation. This change was unintentional and the bureau is working to correct this immediately.”
How could the State Department’s IT team cause such an issue accidentally? It turns out they are building a function that will allow employees to advertise their pronouns in the “From” line, but it’s clearly not yet ready for primetime. A State Department spokesperson told The Washington Stand on background:
“On May 18, the State Department’s Bureau of Information Resource Management was testing a new feature that will provide users with the option to include their preferred pronouns in their email profile. During the test, the feature inadvertently went live, and a large number of employees had randomly assigned pronouns added to their profiles. The Department deeply regrets the confusion and distress this mistake caused our workforce.
“Prior to the official launch of this new feature, IRM will provide ample notice to the workforce, along with instructions on how to add their preferred pronouns to their profile if they wish to do so. The intent behind making this feature available is to make our systems more inclusive and provide employees with options.”
In a Friday email, the State Department offered free therapy to “any employee who feels hurt or upset as a result of this unfortunate mistake.”
This isn’t the first time the Biden State Department has embarrassed itself over pronouns. Back in 2021, the State Department was widely criticized for tweeting about “International Pronouns Day” amid the fallout of the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, when it was responsible for leaving thousands of Americans and even more allies trapped in the country. Earlier this month, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) threatened to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena related to the committee’s investigation of that catastrophe (Blinken has since granted access to the documents).
This week, Secretary Blinken tweeted about another made-up LGBT holiday, the “International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia, and Transphobia.” (If you haven’t heard of “interphobia” before, neither has my Microsoft Word spell check. And “biphobia” sounds like it should mean “fear of twos.”) Alas, all of that extreme virtue-signaling was totally wasted when, the very next day, his department “misgendered” its employees — to use another made-up term. Leftists coined the term “misgender” to mean calling someone by the wrong pronoun — which is exactly what the State Department did.
State Department officials have embraced with gusto one of 17 executive orders President Biden issued on his first day in office, directing all federal agencies to “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all,” which he said “requires a systematic approach to embedding fairness in decision-making processes.”
State officials jumped headfirst onto the equity bandwagon. Per a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report from July 2022, “State officials also said advancing equity is something that the entire agency, and not just a few offices, must undertake.” Last October, the State Department held a 10-day DEI “challenge” featuring lunchtime addresses, feature films, and a jeopardy-style game to train its employees on the finer points of wokeness.
It should come as no surprise, then, that even the IT department — forgive me, the Bureau of Information Resource Management — had to present their own offering at the altar of wokeness — a pronoun feature in the “From” line. There is nothing political about an IT department; computers and cyber security work the same no matter whose offices they are in, yet somehow the Biden State Department managed to politicize theirs.
The whole fiasco still leaves one asking, why? And, will the State Department learn a valuable lesson about travelling too far down the woke rabbit hole? Don’t hold your breath.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.