It seems the latest thing around the old student union is the idea of using a "gender neutral" pronoun if you don't know the person's "preferred gender pronoun." Some people even suggest that we let people come up with their own genders.
Now, if we're going to go down this road then we really need to agree on what's sex and what's gender.
According to the American Psychological Association your body determines your sex. Gender refers to the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s physical sex. Obviously Gender is not arbitrary and is very heavily influenced by sex. But it is actually distinct.
As for sex, the APA recognizes three sexes, male, female and intersex.
Intersex consists of a series of physical conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn't seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. Intersex folks are believed to consist of about 1,7% of the population. In other words, about as prevalent as people with red hair.
Then we get to Transgender. Apparently, the term covers a number of non-conforming psychological cases the best known of which are Transsexuals who feel their gender doesn't match their sex. But apparently there are other definitions which, to be honest, I don't really understand. The famous 51 or 58 or 71, depending upon who you ask, gender options that Facebook provides appear to contain lots of different ways of saying the same thing. For instance Cis Female, Cis Woman, Cisgender Female and Cisgender Woman all mean the same thing; a female who has a feminine gender identity.
The latest estimates places the number of transgenders at 0.6% of the population.or about double the previous estimate of 0.3%. The 0.6% number came from a Williams Institute analysis (http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/How-Many-Adults-Identify-as-Transgender-in-the-United-States.pdf)
Now as I understand it both intersex and transgender types may prefer gender neutral pronouns. I haven't asked all of them so I can't say for sure.
Assuming the estimates are correct that would be about 2.3% of the population. According to Pew Research that's greater than the number of Muslims (0.6%), the number of Mormons (1.6%), the number of Hindus (0.7%), the number of Buddhists (0.7%) and the number of Jews (1.9%) in the US so it's not really a minuscule number.
Does it seem a little silly? Sure, but I remember people saying the same thing about Ms. back in the 1960s and now it's pretty much standard usage in the business world.
Maybe there's a happy medium which isn't completely crazy. The idea of "choose your own pronoun" is obviously nuts but I don't see much of a problem with introducing gender neutral pronouns. If nothing else it will keep me from grinding my teeth when someone uses "she" when the sex is unknown instead of "he" (or they) which are (or were) the traditionally accepted usage in that case.