Pronouns! Again. 9/15/21

There was lots of interest in this thread, which you can check out on twitter. Lots of trans/nb/queer people feel singled out by this practice and not empowered by it. It really also depends A LOT on the circumstances in which one is asked, why, and by whom. I speak up about this not because I need to have my gender understood at all times, but because so many people now think that asking pronouns is THE way to understand and validate someone’s gender. It is also important for me to acknowledge that some trans/nb/queer people really DO LIKE being asked their pronouns. And I think most important of all is that when someone does state their pronouns, we respect that statement and use the pronouns they have offered. Very sincere people on this thread – often educators and healthcare providers – are asking for clarification as to what the right thing is. I would say this is a great time for people to take a step back and consider what their goal is. If trans/nb/queer safety and inclusion is the goal, what are all the things you are doing or could be doing in your life, workplace, medical practice, classroom, etc. to help achieve that goal? Take the focus off of pronouns for a day or a week or a month and look at the big picture. Ask your trans/nb/queer clients, friends, students, patients what they need, what would help. Gender is a social relation and that is why there is not one simple singular way to approach talking about it that is 100% awesome and legible to everyone. Each of us has a gender and an ongoing relationship to gender – not just those people who clearly reject or challenge dominant norms. Here’s a great recent interview with Judith Butler from The Guardian and a wonderful essay by Gabrielle Bellot about the past, drawing on my research, also in The Guardian.

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