Tom Cotton: Military Citations Using ‘Themself’ Instead of ‘Himself’ or ‘Herself’

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) on Friday sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin demanding he explain the Pentagon’s apparent decision to use the “gender neutral” term “themself” instead of “himself” or “herself” for decoration and award citations.

Cotton, an Army veteran, wrote to Austin:

I write regarding the Department’s decision to incorporate ‘gender neutral’ language into decoration and award citations. Our military apparently will now use “themself”—which is not even a word, I hasten to add—instead of “himself” or “herself” to describe heroic or distinguished actions.

He included a sample of the “absurd” model language:

(Rank) First M. Last, Jr., United States (Military Service), distinguished themself by superior meritorious service in a position of significant responsibility as (position and duty assignment), from (month year) to (month year).

Cotton said previous guidance simply referred to service members as “himself or herself.”

“And, I want to stress, this language isn’t referring to unspecified personnel in the abstract or large numbers of troops—it refers to a specific, named person whose ‘preferred gender’ is presumably known,” he said.

Cotton made clear he opposed the apparent language change, slamming it as worse than Orwellian:

The Department’s embrace of far-left gender ideology doesn’t merely subvert the English language in ways that would astonish George Orwell. Worse, it exemplifies a Pentagon leadership consumed by the fads of the faculty lounge at a time when the Army can’t hit its recruiting goals, the Navy can’t keep ships out of dry dock, and the Air Force can’t find spare parts for planes.

He demanded Austin answer by next Friday at 5:00 p.m. as to if he personally approved the change and if he did not, when he learned about it.

“I also would welcome a reply that this whole episode was just a practical joke or a decision you immediately reversed when it came to your attention,” he said.

He included a footnote after addressing Austin as “Mr.” saying, “If I may be so bold as to assume your ‘preferred gender.'”

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