Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Personal Pronouns, Pretty Please!

'He' and 'she' just don't cut it for some of us, but fortunately there are other options! Those of us living outside of the binary may choose pronouns you aren't used to using or haven't heard of before! So, cis friends, some requests:
Please don't complain about non-binary pronouns (or changes in binary pronouns). 
[image description: six nametags reading: Hello, Address
me as (blank) Please Use: They, Them, Theirs; He, Him,
His; (blank); She, Her, Hers; Ze, Hir, Hirs; Xe, Xem, Xyrs]
I think most trans people can acknowledge that changing pronouns can be challenging, and that it can take time to get used to using pronouns you haven't heard of before (like, maybe, ey/em/eir/eirs/eirself or xe/xir/xir/xirs/xirself). My personal pronouns are they/them/their/theirs/themself. Personally, I don't want to correct people all the time, so please just practice and hold yourself accountable. If you mess up, just briefly apologize and correct yourself. Please don't dwell on it. And seriously, don't complain about it! What does that do but make your trans friend feel guilty for asking to be acknowledged as who they are?! If you want to be an awesome ally and friend, one thing you can do is practice using the correct pronouns. As I told my friends, go ahead and talk about me! Lol. There are websites that can help you practice different pronouns, too, like the pronoun dressing room, which also has a pretty good sized list of personal pronoun options. (a note: if you are practicing with they/them pronouns on that website, click "plural." Even though it is singular, the common way to use it is as though it were plural, grammar-wise.)

It should go without saying, but unfortunately this needs to be said, too:
Don't argue with someone about their pronouns. It's not up to you what pronouns people use. Using the correct pronouns is a matter of respect. Don't complain about grammar (seriously, 'singular they' has been used in language for a long time.... person 1: "My friend just got into a car accident!" person 2: "Oh no, are they okay?"). Don't tell someone their pronouns aren't real. We live in a society that has been oppressively shaped by patriarchy where only "he" and "she" are recognized as valid. Non-binary people deserve to exist and be acknowledged for who they are, and sometimes creating new pronouns or using less common pronouns is one way to do that. Just because someone's personal pronouns haven't made it into the dictionary yet, doesn't mean they aren't real! Saying so is just close-minded.
[image description: Text: Pronoun Dos and Don'ts: When someone asks you to use a different pronoun: DON'T: cartoon of a person saying, "What? 'Zie' isn't a real pronoun. Don't you have something more normal that you use? DON'T: Cartoon of a person saying "But it's not grammatically correct to use 'they' as a singular pronoun." WHY? You are not being asked to evaluate this person's gender identity or preferred terminology. (Also, I have not yet witnessed a verson of this conversation in which the person arguing is actually correct.)] from Robot Hugs.

Non-binary trans people don't choose their pronouns to make life difficult for cis people. We choose our pronouns to feel validated as who we are. We choose different pronouns because "he" or "she" never felt right. If you have never had to think about your pronouns, if your pronouns are in the dictionary and used by society at large, that is a privilege that many non-binary folks don't have.

Not all non-binary people choose to change their personal pronouns, and some choose to change to a different binary pronoun. This doesn't make their gender any less valid than anyone else's. Personal pronouns are a personal choice.
[image description: a cartoon of two characters sitting close and facing
each other, one saying, "You had me at 'What gender pronoun
d'you prefer?'..." with a pink heart as the background] from:

One more thing: it is okay to ask someone what pronouns they prefer! It is often suggested that you start by giving yours. I would say, "Hi, I'm Coco. My personal pronouns are they/them. What are yours?" or something like that. Some cis people might think this is an inappropriate question because they think that their gender is "obvious" but the truth is, you can never really tell. If they are offended by the question, it is because of cisnormative conditioning, and it's about time we all start breaking down those walls.

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