Marine Corps considers ban on 'sir,' 'ma'am' out of fears recruits may 'misgender' superiors

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A University of Pittsburgh report commissioned by the US Marine Corps has recommended that recruits refrain from using gendered language, such as “sir” or “ma’am” when referring to superiors as it may “misgender” them.

The report suggested that recruits should instead use a superior’s title or last name when addressing them, or simply “drill instructor.”

“Gendered identifiers prime recruits to think about or visually search for a drill instructor’s gender first, before their rank or role,” the report suggested.

The authors suggested that gender-neutral identifiers are “an unambiguous, impartial way to circumvent these issues,” and that their use “eliminates the possibility of misgendering drill instructors, which can unintentionally offend or cause discord.

“By teaching recruits to use gender-neutral identifiers for their drill instructors,” they argue, “services underscore the importance of respecting authoritative figures regardless of gender.”

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