Friday, October 7, 2011

Again with the Pronouns

I've written several posts already about pronouns. Obviously it's a subject I care a lot about. In fact, I've written so much on the topic that one might expect me to have thought about what pronoun I prefer people to use to refer to me. And yet, when asked in a group setting last week this very question (it was one of those introduce-yourself things), I was uncertain enough to avoid the question.

I was near the end of the group, so I had a few minutes to think about it. But I kept thinking, "If I got to choose ... wait, don't I get to choose?" Hence, confusion.

I have since decided two things: I like the singular "they" for myself. So if you want to be fancy, go ahead and use that for me. But here's the second thing: I just don't care all that much. Call me "she" all you want, too. Heck, call me "he" if you want; I get sirred all the time what with the short hair, and it does not bother me one whit.

I think pronoun preference and degree of caring about that preference are two orthogonal quantities, and I end up in the "whatever" zone. (Though I care a lot about calling other people by their preferred pronoun!)

How about you, dear readers? Ever been called upon to pick a pronoun?


  1. I want to second the idea that it's okay to not care that much about the pronouns used for ourselves and to be very, very much committed to using other peoples' pronouns of choice.

    Kyrie and I have talked about this before, and we were at the same meeting. I said I had no pronoun preference (and have said that in several other meetings recently, too - I think all "introduce yourself" activities at meetings should include pronoun preference). This is mostly true. I don't care if people call me "she" (most people will. I look like what the mainstream thinks of as a "woman" - long hair, curvy figure, eyeliner - even though lots of men have some/all of these characteristics also). But I don't always dress in the ways that the general population seems to think women dress, though sometimes I do. Sometimes I shop in the women's section, and sometimes I shop in the men's section, because what I'm getting to realize is, I like some clothes/fabrics and I don't like other clothes/fabrics and I want to wear the stuff I like and not the stuff I don't. Whichever section of the store they're in is immaterial to me. I wish clothing stores would stop having gendered departments because that would save me a lot of time while shopping.

    So that was a rant about clothing, not pronouns, but it's related. I don't feel comfortable shopping exclusively in either department, and I find things that delight me in both. I think this might be where I'm landing with gender, too, and therefore also pronouns. I haven't decided if I have a preference yet. Right now, they're all okay - she/her, he/him, ze/hir, they/them.

    [I'm about to adopt a drag persona. I think he wants to be called him. We'll get back to you on that.]

    One more thing: Some of the people who are most important to me in my life have very firm pronoun preferences. I am not saying that we should all be flexible or have no preference in our preferred pronouns. I absolutely 100% respect other peoples' desire to be called what they want to be called. I might settle on something eventually. I might not. I understand that it can be a great source of pain for people to be read as a gender with which they do not identify, and I am very much dedicated to helping educate people about not making assumptions about peoples' gender based on the way they read them.

    That's it. For now.

    Except this: I heart you, Kyrie.

  2. I have a question. How do you pronounce the pronoun "hir"? When called upon to use it, I want to be sure to say it properly.

  3. Great question! It's pronounced "here." A couple of people whom I know prefer ze and hir are okay with people who say "they" and "them" when speaking and use ze and hir in writing.

  4. Thank you. That is a really helpful explanation!