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Update on preferred pronouns - the funcrunch files


Sep. 13th, 2013 10:50 am Update on preferred pronouns

In my name change announcement, I stated that I was fine with people using either "she/her/hers" or "he/him/his" to refer to me, and that gender-neutral pronouns were not necessary as none other than possibly "they/them/their" had been widely adopted enough to be understood. I have been regretting this part of my announcement for weeks because the truth is that I die a little inside anytime someone refers to me with traditionally-female pronouns. Because despite not taking dramatic steps to adopt a more masculine appearance, I no longer identify as a woman.

I've concluded that I want to join the groundswell of people using gender-neutral pronouns so that they will become more widely adopted. As my friend plymouth said in their post, "if you only have that one friend who wants those weird pronouns it is hard. But if you have 3 or 4 or 7 it starts to seem more normative."

So from now on, I'm requesting that friends and acquaintances please refer to me with the pronouns they/them/their. The use of singular they as a gender-neutral pronoun has been increasing to the point that I believe it can be understood without lengthy or awkward explanations.

Pronouns don't even begin to cover all of the instances of gendering in the English language, unfortunately. For those forms of address where a gender-neutral option does not readily present itself, I would prefer to be identified with words traditionally used for men: Sir, Mister, etc. I will probably not be correcting sales clerks, waitstaff, and other people I only have brief interactions with, and do not expect friends to speak up on my behalf in such situations.

I realize that changing pronouns is difficult. I don't expect perfection, only effort. Just as I will simply gently correct a friend who refers to me by my previous name, I won't be offended by a friend who forgets and uses traditionally-female words to refer to me (unless they do so willfully and repeatedly), but I will gently remind and correct them. Thanks in advance for helping to make our language and culture more inclusive of all identities.

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