If You're Going To Misgender Caitlyn Jenner, You're Going To Have To Deal With This Bot

06/02/2015 01:23 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Caitlyn Jenner made her debut on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine yesterday and thereby pretty much broke the Internet.

But not everyone was on board with celebrating Caitlyn's arrival. Nickelodeon star Drake Bell tweeted -- and then quickly deleted -- "Sorry, still calling you Bruce."

drake bell

He followed up that statement with another tweet, which he then also deleted, that misgendered Jenner: "I'm not dissing him! I just don't want to forget his legacy! He is the greatest athlete of all time! Chill out!"

The problem? The cover's headline, Call Me Caitlyn, gives readers a clear directive. Call. Her. Caitlyn. Referring to her as "he" is disrespectful and demeaning.

Bell wasn't the only one refusing (or just plain having trouble remembering) to use female pronouns for Jenner. But, thanks to a new Twitter bot, @She_Not_He, that hopefully won't be a problem for much longer.

The bot, which Twitter users @caitlindewey and @andrewmcgill created, automatically responds to tweets that use male pronouns to refer to Jenner. It has sent out over 1,300 tweets and counting since yesterday:

Dewey, a journalist for The Washington Post, wrote an article on Tuesday about the Twitter bot that she and McGill created.

"[The bot] essentially searches for mentions of “Jenner” and “he,” screens out a series of terms that turn up false positives, and then sends the offending tweeter a polite, robotic correction," she writes.

McGill, who is a graphics director at NationalJournal.com, also released the code that runs the bot.

Dewey's favorite thing that she's experienced so far? People she refers to as "reformees," who were willing to admit their mistakes.

"There are very, very few of them, admittedly — but particularly in the beginning, before the bot went viral, we saw strings of well-meaning @-replies from tweeters around the country, tweets that apologized for ignorance or explained that they hadn’t previously known about these things," Dewey wrote.

She added, "This is extraordinary, when you think about it; or at least it seems so to me. Our online dialogues have become so toxic, so militarized, that it’s rare to change a mind or meet in the middle or otherwise agree reasonably on just about anything."

So, maybe this little Twitter bot isn't going to single-handedly change the world, but we'll take a little injection of hope wherever we can get one.

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15 Things To Know About Being Transgender By Nicholas M. Teich
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