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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher April 19, 2021

Fact-checking whether Biden, Democrats want to remove all terms that note gender

If Your Time is short

  • Biden changed WhiteHouse.gov so that people contacting the White House can identify themselves without a specific gender, but it does not eliminate traditional gender options.

  • Biden’s administration reportedly is considering a gender-neutral designation on federal documents such as passports, consistent with a campaign pledge he made, but traditional gender options would remain.

  • In a party-line vote, the Democratic-led House of Representatives changed its rules document to replace gender-specific references with neutral ones. But the changes apply only to the verbiage in the rules document itself.

President Joe Biden and other Democrats might be doing more than most Americans realize to offer alternatives when it comes to gender identification.

But there’s scant evidence for a meme, widely circulated on Facebook, that claims they want to eliminate all terms denoting gender.

The meme shows a photo of Biden and first lady Jill Biden embracing and smiling. The text above the photo says: 

"Joe Biden and the Democrats want to remove any term that denotes gender. Henceforth the term ‘Mr President and First Lady’ will be replaced with ‘Those two idiots in the White House.’"

A search shows the photo is from a Valentine’s Day article on the Bidens in People magazine.

The Facebook post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Biden has taken steps to offer people gender-neutral alternatives, not to eliminate the use of terms that identify gender.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives went further in a narrow way, replacing in its rules document gender-specific terms with gender-neutral ones. 

Biden makes one change, weighs another

News organizations reported that on Jan. 20, Biden’s first day in office, WhiteHouse.gov was changed so that people who use the Contact Form for messaging the White House can choose not to be identified by gender. 

The choices in the prefix dropdown menu are: Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr. and the gender-neutral Mx. The choices for pronoun are: she/her, he/him, they/them, other and prefer not to share.

Featured Fact-check

In February, The 19th, a news website that covers gender, politics and policy, reported that the Biden administration is considering whether to add "X" gender markers to federal documents such as passports. 

Biden promised on his campaign website to work to "ensure all transgender individuals have access to identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity. Biden believes every transgender or non-binary person should have the option of changing their gender marker to M, F or X on government identifications, passports and other documentation. He will support state and federal efforts to allow for this accurate representation."

House rules add gender-inclusive language

The House adopts rules for each of its two-year terms, typically amending the rules from the previous session to govern the new session. The rules spell out everything from directing the Speaker of the House to preserve order in the House, to organizing committees, to the management of legislation. On Jan. 4, the House voted 217-206 to adopt the Rules of the House for the 117th Congress. It was a strict party-line vote, with all yes votes coming from Democrats. 

Newly passed amendments to the previous rules included a "Gender-Inclusive Language" section, where words such as father and mother were changed to parent; brother and sister to sibling; and himself or herself to themself.

The move only changed the text of the House rules for the 2021-2023 session; the changes were not applied more broadly and do not apply, for instance, to floor debate.

The changes were made to promote "inclusion and diversity" and to "honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral," Democrats Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, and Rep. James McGovern of Massachusetts, the House Rules Committee chair, said in a news release announcing the proposed rule changes.

The changes led Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wis., to say "a majority of Americans have voted for a party" that "wants a world in which you cannot call your parents mom and dad." We rated that claim False.

Our ruling

A meme widely shared on Facebook claimed, "Biden and the Democrats want to remove any term that denotes gender."

The contact form on WhiteHouse.gov now allows people to choose pronouns that don’t identify gender, and Biden is considering adding a gender-neutral choice for documents such as passports. But it doesn’t eliminate gender-specific options.

The Democratic-led House went further by changing all gender-specific references in its rules document to gender-neutral references. 

While the Biden administration has advocated for more inclusive language that allows people to self-identify using gender pronouns that they feel are better suited to them, and the Congressional Democrats changed the language in their rules to be more inclusive, this claim goes too far. They have not removed all terms that denote gender; they have added another option to the existing ones. We rate it Mostly False. 

Our Sources

Facebook post, April 10, 2021

New York Times, "The Words That Are In and Out With the Biden Administration," published Feb. 24, 2021, updated March 18, 2021

NBC News, "White House website allows users to specify pronouns for first time," Jan. 21, 2021

USA Today, "Fact check: US House members can use gendered language; rules change affected one document," Jan. 16, 2021

Congress.gov, "H.Res.8 - Adopting the Rules of the House of Representatives of the One Hundred Seventeenth Congress, and for other purposes," accessed April 15, 2021

The 19th, "Biden administration suggests it will add "X" gender markers to federal documents," Feb. 19, 2021

House Rules Committee, news release, Jan. 1, 2021

Snopes, "Did Pelosi ‘Remove’ Gender-Specific Words from Use in the House of Representatives?", Jan. 5, 2021

Associated Press, "Removal of gender-specific terms from House rules does not amount to a ban," Jan. 15, 2021

Reuters, "White House website adds gender-neutral pronouns as Biden meets LGBT+ demands," Jan. 21, 2021

JoeBiden.com, "The Biden plan to advance LGTVQ+ equality in America and around the world," accessed April 15, 2021

PolitiFact, "No, Democrats are not eliminating the right of Americans to call parents mom and dad," Jan. 25, 2021

Email, Mary Emily O'Hara, spokesperson for GLAAD, formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, April 19, 2021

Email, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill, April 19, 2021

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