Regardless of whether you support the October 2019 version of the Code of Conduct or not, it's clear that a lot of users are apprehensive about it. In response to the FAQ, users have come up with many "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenarios that they fear might get you punished.
The staff are responding with comments that mostly say "calm down, just act normally and it shouldn't be a problem". The community is also desperately hoping to go back to simpler times. We somehow mostly got along, before this CoC pronoun controversy made everyone fearful. How can we cope now?
The answer, I believe, lies in the text of the Code of Conduct itself (emphasis added):
Be inclusive and respectful.
Avoid sarcasm and be careful with jokes — tone is hard to decipher online. Prefer gender-neutral language when uncertain. If a situation makes it hard to be friendly, stop participating and move on.
We don’t tolerate any language likely to offend or alienate people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion — and those are just a few examples. Use stated pronouns (when known). When in doubt, don't use language that might offend or alienate.
In case it isn't clear how we can easily comply…
- Gender-neutral language is preferable, but not required.
- You need to use a user's stated pronouns only after the user tells you.
If your proposal to add pronouns to user profiles is not implemented, then someone would have to explicitly tell you "actually, my pronouns are 'she/her'" — and you'd have to blatantly disregard that request, probably within the same conversation, to violate the Code of Conduct.
On the other hand, if it becomes the norm for users to explicitly declare their gender or pronoun in a specific standard place in their profile, it places a burden on every user to respect that declaration, because the user's gender is known. It becomes easier to make accusations of "This user misgendered me! My pronouns are clearly stated in my profile! Moderators, I demand justice!" If you neglect to look at the user card, you could be starting every interaction with one strike against you.
I get the feeling, based on the staff's "what's the big deal?" tone, and the fact that they didn't concurrently roll out a pronoun feature with the Code of Conduct change, that they don't want the latter scenario, where it's easier to take offense at mistakes.
Also, keep in mind that the vast majority of users — especially hordes of new users that we're supposed to keep welcoming — won't have read the Code of Conduct, much less the complicated explanatory FAQ. Most users — new and experienced alike — won't look at profiles or user cards either. Whatever system we have in the post-October-2019-CoC world needs to work intuitively. How do people work in real life? We make and respond to gender hints, based on names and appearances (i.e. images). Sometimes we guess wrong. Mistakes can be hurtful. But they're not actionable grievances unless the offender maliciously refuses to comply. Let's keep things that way, shall we?