Is it 'ze' 'zir' 'she' or 'he'? Businesses that don't get on board face heavy fines in NYC

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |
University of Tennessee

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) — NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is at it again.

Businesses that fail to use customers' preferred gender salutations, such as "Mr." or "Mrs." or pronouns "ze" or "zir" may subject to fines of up to $250,000.

The new "legal enforcement guidance" issued in December with the New York City Human Rights Law, now "requires employers and converted entities to use an individual's preferred name, pronoun and title, (e.g., Ms./Mrs.) regardless of the individual's sex assigned at birth, anatomy, gender, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on the individual's identification," according to an article in the Washington Times.

"Misgendering" — that is calling one by a title they have made clear they don't want used — can result in a $125,000 fine, but it can double if the violation is the "result of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct.

A law professor, Eugene Volokh, has speculated about how the First Amendment might apply in this situation.


The new rules on how to address transgendered individuals follow a call for a city-wide boycott of Chick-fil-A by de Blasio and the New York City Council, after the popular chicken restaurant was accused of spreading a "message of hate" because years ago the owner told a reporter he believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

The boycott hasn't gained much of a following according to Todd Starnes, a FOX News commentator who suggested "maybe the mayor and the city council should mind their own business and let Chick-fil-A mind theirs."

Noting Chick-Fil-A employees hundreds of New Yorkers, Starnes noted the boycott may have "backfired" with a lunchtime line stretched around the block.

"Chick-fil-A is not in the business of spreading hate. They are in the business of selling chicken and waffle fries and deliciously refreshing lemonade," Starnes wrote.

"And they do not have a policy that prohibits same-sex love," he continued. "That's a blatant lie. Chick-fil-A could care less whether birds of a feather flock together or not."