According to the New York City Human Rights Law, employers and other entities are required to use pronouns with which a person self-identifies, including singular they or neopronouns:

The NYCHRL requires employers and covered entities to use the name, pronouns, and title (e.g., Ms./Mrs./Mx.) with which a person self-identifies, regardless of the person’s sex assigned at birth, anatomy, gender, medical history, appearance, or the sex indicated on the person’s identification.

Most people and many transgender people use female or male pronouns and titles. Some transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people use pronouns other than he/him/his or she/her/hers, such as they/them/theirs or ze/hir. They/them/theirs can be used to identify or refer to a single person (e.g., “Joan is going to the store, and they want to know when to leave”). Many transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people use a different name than the one they were assigned at birth.

The Stack Overflow company is based in New York City, although I don't know if Stack Exchange is a "covered entity".

Is the Code of Conduct update announced 2019-10-10 in any way related to the legal situation in New York City?

  • 4
    Of course, once could influence the other without directly causing or requiring the other.
    – Raedwald
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 16:15
  • 4
    @Dylan, not a moot point -- if SE Inc. is legally based in NYC they may have no choice but to comply. IANAL. Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 16:19
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    Does the NY law require that you inject pronouns where you wouldn't otherwise use them, or merely that if you use pronouns you use the correct ones? Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 16:46
  • @MonicaCellio No clue! Presumably the latter.
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 16:57
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    @MonicaCellio It doesn't appear so, at least from a plain reading of the text: it says "All people ... have the right to use and have others use their name and pronouns", but the Examples of Violations all involve explicit misgendering. I see nothing in it that would suggest that using pronouns is required
    – divibisan
    Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 17:02
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    Thanks @divibisan. That's what it sounded like to me, but I didn't read everything closely. As far as I know, nobody in the recent discussion ever argued that misgendering -- that is, knowingly using a wrong pronoun -- is ok. Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 17:19
  • Someone asked me how is enforced usage of pronouns a political agenda, if it doesn't apply to law or government. Well, apparently it does. Shame those comments got censored, I would send them this link.
    – user622505
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 4:41
  • Can NYC actually enforce such a law for users that don't live in the city? Or in the US, for that matter?
    – dan04
    Commented Oct 19, 2019 at 20:07
  • @dan04 It doesn't matter where the users are: if the company is based in NY, it has to respect NY laws, and make sure that their users respect said law as well. Because they can get sued by another New Yorker if they do not.
    – Sava
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 11:50

2 Answers 2


I think it’s unlikely. The regulation applies to employers (and covered entities which refers to Housing and Public Accommodations) but not to individual people:

The NYCHRL requires employers and covered entities to use the name, pronouns, and title (e.g., Ms./Mrs./Mx.) with which a person self-identifies

So, it’s possible that the new regulation would result in a new internal policy requiring StackExchange employees to use requested pronouns, but the regulation has no bearing on the actions of regular users who do not represent the company, and so this regulation is unlikely to have resulted in any changes to the public-facing Code of Conduct.

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    I concur with the "unlikely" premise. The NYC law is an interesting read, but I've never heard of it before now, and am I not personally aware of it ever coming up in this context. Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 16:36
  • @RobertCartaino From your profile, you seem to be an employee? Any chance we can get a simple yes/no answer from someone who knows for sure? I agree the answer is likely no, but you never know!
    – jhpratt
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 5:10

Could be. 'Someone in authority who wants a mandate to be far broader than it actually is interpreting it as being as broad as they want it to be' is a plausible explanation for a number of recent absurd policy actions. For example, Adobe recently disabled all products licensed to all Venezuela- connected users, and refused them refunds, because the US required it to cease providing support or funds to Venezuelan government- connected users. (source)

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