A large number of millennials think that some forms of free speech shouldn’t be free. In fact, using the wrong words should probably land you in jail.

According to a recent poll from Newsweek, 44% of millennials aged 25-34 said that “referring to someone by the wrong gender pronoun (he/him, she/her) should be a criminal offense.” Nearly a third of respondents stood up for the First Amendment, and a quarter of those surveyed somehow responded “neither agree nor disagree” or “don’t know.”

Among elder millennials (aged 35-44), the share of those who supported criminalizing “improper” pronoun usage dropped just slightly to 38%.

These results may seem surprising, but this kind of thinking is the logical outcome of young adults who came of age on college campuses where they were taught that “ words are violence .” In pop culture, we’re constantly warned about the “harm” that incorrect speech can do.

Just last week, U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe blamed Dave Chappelle’s jokes for anti-trans violence. Really.

“I don’t want to mince words about it,” she told Time. “Dave Chappelle making jokes about trans people directly leads to violence, whether it’s verbal or otherwise, against trans people.”

Notice her language here: “violence, whether it’s verbal or otherwise.” Putting aside the ridiculous notion that Chappelle’s comedy is “transphobic,” Rapinoe is simply repeating what we’re all being told, that violence doesn’t have to be physical. It can merely be the result of hurt feelings when someone says a thing you don’t like.

Of course, this is nothing new. A survey of college students from 2017 found an overwhelming 81% agreed with the statement: “Words can be a form of violence.”

And notice how the transgender movement often seems to be at the nexus of these conversations. Misgendering should be a crime. Making jokes about transgender people leads to literal violence.

The problem begins with activists such as Rapinoe, who know that their cause is unpopular. Despite championing men’s right to play on women’s sports teams, Rapinoe must realize that a majority of the country believes that letting men dominate in women’s sports is unfair. When your arguments fail to win people to your side, then you can resort to scaremongering. If we don’t let men take women’s trophies away, then they will face real harm. 

Broader than the sports debate, this is a difficult and nuanced topic, with people who suffer from gender dysphoria seemingly at odds with women who desire single-sex spaces and people who don’t want to be coerced into using language with which they may disagree. Though this shouldn’t be seen as a zero-sum game, if transgender ideologues were to be honest about that, they’d also have to acknowledge that no one’s words are causing “violence” and misgendering is nowhere near the “crime” millennials see it as.

No, words aren’t violence. But when you’ve lost the argument, it’s so much easier to cry foul than admit you’re in the wrong.