WATCH: AP reporter demands to know why State Dept is forcing wrong pronouns into agency emails

"This is something that has been just arbitrarily imposed."

In Thursday's State Department press briefing, the Associated Press' Matt Lee asked Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel why there is suddenly pronouns listed at the "From" portion of emails from the department. 

Lee asked if the spokesman would look at their email to see if they had noticed anything different. The spokesman appeared flustered, saying "why don't you get to your question," with Lee continuing: "I mean, you say you haven't noticed anything? No. Okay, so within the last hour and a half, two hours, the State Department's internal email system and I tested this as added pronouns to people's, not their signature, but to their folder where you know where it says 'From.'"

"This is something that has been just arbitrarily imposed. Understand that people could have their pronouns passed if they wanted them to a signature before, but this is not something that anyone has a choice about. And so I'm just wondering, why, and who made this decision?"

Patel said that he did not notice this new development, and then proceeded to ask Lee if this was something "internal" to the "State Department," to which Lee said, "Obviously" not.

Lee noted that while having pronouns inserted into email should certainly be an option, it is strange that State Department is not only automatically providing pronouns without permission, but that they are also providing the incorrect pronouns. The journalist went on to say that "men are being identified as women, and women are being identified as men," and that this has nothing to do with transgender people. He concluded, by saying that "it's ridiculous" that this is happening. 

The spokesman said that they would be happy to look into it. 

An Executive Order (EO) that was signed June 25, 2021, part of which draws out provisions about government agencies doing everything they can to promote diversity and inclusion. In Section 5 of the EO, it states: "The head of each agency shall take a data-driven approach to advancing policies that promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within the agency’s workforce, while protecting the privacy of employees and safeguarding all personally identifiable information and protected health information."

Another part of the EO states: "The head of each agency shall also take steps to ensure that data collection and analysis practices allow for the capture or presence of multiple attributes and identities to ensure an intersectional analysis."

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