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Woke watchdog? GAO reportedly urges employees not to use gendered language

The memo recommends alternative words such as “workforce,” instead of “manpower.”

Published: May 29, 2023 4:06pm

Updated: May 29, 2023 4:33pm

A top U.S. government watchdog issued a memo urging employees to not use gendered language, resulting in criticism from conservatives. 

The leaked memos from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), obtained by The Daily Mail, instruct employees to not use male and female terms in the workplace. 

The chief diversity management officer of the GAO, which examines federal government spending, had the memo issued in October 2022, which was posted on the agency’s intranet. 

The memo is a “style guide” to prevent the use of “non-inclusive terminology,” urging the GAO’s 3,100 employees to avoid “wording that diminishes anyone’s dignity,” cited The Daily Mail. 

“Because meaning and connotations can change rapidly, we should not rely solely on precedent (GAO or otherwise) but should consider consulting early in an engagement with individuals and groups who are within scope of the work,” according to the memo, which recommends using alternative words that are not gendered. These alternatives include “artificial” as opposed to “man-made”; “workforce,” instead of “manpower”; and “crewed,” rather than “manned.” 

The memo also provides instructions on sex versus gender identity. 

“When it is necessary to refer to sex or gender identity, be aware of the distinction and avoid equating the two,” according to the memo. “Sex is a classification of people into categories such as male, female or intersex on the basis of biological characteristics. Gender identity is a person’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both, or neither. Gender identity may align with the sex a person was assigned at birth (cisgender), another sex (transgender), or neither. 

“A person whose gender identity does not align with their sex assigned at birth or with another sex may identify as nonbinary, agender, or gender fluid, among other identities. When it is necessary to use binary terminology, avoid implying that all people identify with the sex or gender binaries or that all people share the biological characteristics of their assigned sex,” the memo adds. 

The memo also provides instructions on using terms for disabled people and illegal immigrants. 

“To the extent possible, avoid dehumanizing or unclear terms such as 'alien,' ‘illegal alien,’ 'illegal immigrant,' or ‘illegals’ when referring to people who are not U.S. citizens and who may have a variety of immigration statuses,” according to the memo. “The choice of the term should depend on the population being described, but options may include 'noncitizen,' 'foreign national,' 'migrant,' 'undocumented migrants,' or 'undocumented immigrants.'” 

A GAO spokesman told The Daily Mail regarding the memo, “This language is currently under review and changes are being considered.” 

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) reacted to the memo, saying, “If Biden and the radical leftists in his administration focused on the real problems facing America — forty-year high inflation, out of control crime, open borders and a flood of deadly drugs — instead of forcing a woke ideology down our throats, our country would be in a far better position to tackle the problems he has exacerbated.” 

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) told The Daily Mail regarding the memo that the Biden administration “is working overtime to radically transform America and destroy what was common sense just a few years ago.” 

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