State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel was pressed by a reporter in a contentious exchange Thursday over the department’s new policy that reportedly mandates the use of pronouns in all State Department emails.
At the conclusion of Patel’s Thursday briefing, Associated Press reporter Matt Lee, who covers the State Department, asked Patel to address the new internal pronoun policy which reportedly mandates all employees to include their pronouns in the ‘from’ field on all agency emails.
Lee said he discovered the “mandatory” policy hours earlier during an email exchange with Patel’s colleagues.
“Have you gotten any emails from any of your colleagues before you came out here… since about noon or so? Lee asked.
“What’s your question?” Patel responded. “My email? I’m not going to pull up my email from the podium.”
“You don’t have to show it to me, I want to know if you noticed anything different in the ‘from’ line, where it gives the sender,” Lee replied.
Patel, growing visibly frustrated, said he was unaware of any such change.
“Within the last hour and a half… the State Department’s internal email system — and I tested this, so I know that it’s true — has added pronouns to people’s — not their signature — but to where it says ‘from,'” Lee said. “Why?”
“This is not something that anybody has a choice about,” he continued, “and so I’m wondering why and who made this decision.”
A flustered Patel said he was unfamiliar with the “phenomenon,” to which Lee replied, “Will you look into it?”
The AP reporter went on to emphasize that not only is the imposed policy “not optional,” but he believes it has attributed the wrong pronouns to email senders who used the agency’s server.
State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller issued a response to Lee’s question on Twitter later Thursday, claiming that the department’s Outlook server involuntarily added gender pronouns to employee emails.
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