Friday, September 6, 2013

Using Appropriate Personal Pronouns

It should go without saying that when addressing someone we should make every attempt to use the proper wording. I just want to share a bit on pronouns, their use, misuse, how hurtful they can be and more importantly, how absolutely amazing there use can make us feel.

I remember the first time I was out in public right after I began transiting when someone said "Thank you ma'am" at a checkout. It was a weird feeling. It was somewhere between "I can do this" and "someone actually sees me". Either way it was a good feeling.

Unfortunately, all these years in I still hear the "Thank you sir" and I still get that irritated feeling. Almost always now it is an emphasized "sir", like the person saying it is trying to make a point. I also have the people in my life that say "You'll always be _____"... But that is a whole other topic. Really the only other times I get misgendered accidentally are when I'm in the drive thru or on the phone.

I guess my point is that most people seem to get it... Most people who read this blog, trans or not, get it I am sure. Still, sometimes we all make mistakes and even as a trans woman I have been accused of misgendering others because I used the wrong name. I've also found myself in that uncomfortable position of simply not knowing if the person I was talking to was male, female, both or neither. The rule I go with is that if someone presents themselves as particular gender than I use the pronoun that is appropriate. If not I ask...

I also want to point out that names are just as relevant here as pronouns. This gets super complicated when the person's name you are talking to (or introducing) is decidedly not the gender they are presenting as! You will find this far more often with cross dressers but it's happened to me with people who identified as being transsexual as well... They simply hadn't decided on a name!

Listen, explain, educate...

I don't have all the answers but in the end I also think we (myself included) don't give people the benefit of the doubt in many cases. We often times automatically assume it is deliberate when we hear the wrong pronouns. This is where education comes in. We aren't going to change the hearts and minds of the few who outwardly reject us... What we can do is educate those who do not understand. I know these two groups blend together but usually it is easy to distinguish the two if we step back and listen.

What is my advice then? Well, listen to the person and politely correct them. If they keep doing it, try not to assume they are doing it maliciously. Many people simply don't understand what gender identify is, let alone what being transgender means. This may in fact be the perfect opportunity to explain it all.

Lastly I have included a section below regarding gender neutral pronouns...

Zie, Hir, and other pronouns

You will sometimes hear people use "zie" or "hir" (both of which are attempts at creating a gender neutral pronoun) but I personally do not feel these relate to me. One major issue with these words are that for the most part, the only people who seem to know anything about them are the people that use them. I suppose they might work for someone who doesn't identify as either a man or woman but isn't that what the singular "they" is for? IDK... If you prefer these pronouns (or something different) please comment below and explain why they are preferable to "they".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well sir, you are wrong. Just because you choose to wear a dress and call yourself by a woman's name, that does not obligate others to support your delusions.