A Twitter account has a message for people talking about Caitlyn Jenner: it’s “she,” not “he.”
On Monday, the Olympic gold medalist formerly known as Bruce Jenner debuted her new identity as Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair. Shortly thereafter, the “She Not He” Twitter account emerged and began to automatically respond to Twitter users who referred to Caitlyn Jenner as “he,” telling the users that Jenner should now be referred to her chosen pronoun of “she.”
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On Tuesday morning, Washington Post reporter Caitlin Dewey revealed in an article that she had created account bot as an experiment.
Dewey described how she and a colleague built the automated bot: “It essentially searches for mentions of “Jenner” and “he,” screens out a series of terms that turn up false positives, and then sends the offending tweeter a polite, robotic correction.”
According to the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, “Transgender people should be referred to by the name and gender with which they identify. Some transgender people choose to take hormones or have medical procedures, but that’s not what determines the right name and pronoun to use. It is stating one’s gender identity that is what should guide word use. Jenner should be referred to as she and her.” In the wake of Jenner’s newsmaking announcement, thousands of users were tweeting about Jenner – but many were mistakenly referring to Jenner as “he” or “him.”
In the span of a day, Dewey’s bot tweeted more than 1,300 responses to individual users referring to Jenner with male pronouns.
Dewey wrote that the bot received a significant amount of feedback, including many well-meaning Twitter users who took the correction to heart and responded thanking the account for the correction.
“This is extraordinary, when you think about it; or at least it seems so to me. Our online dialogues have become so toxic, so militarized, that it’s rare to change a mind or meet in the middle or otherwise agree reasonably on just about anything,” Dewey wrote.