What I Need From You (When I talk about gender)
It’s pride month, and I have a new comic project in the works and somehow it just felt fitting to write about this. Whenever I tell people (or write) about my gender identity and preferred pronouns I always worry – because I don’t know how people are going to react. It’s scary to…even think about asking someone to change how they refer to you, especially when it goes against everything we’ve been programmed to accept.
When I talk about gender identity- about using hen, or they, as pronouns instead of she/her…the reaction I don’t need is one that goes like this:
“But <your pronoun of choice> doesn’t fit well in english!”
“I could do this if only it fit into the language better”
“you know this doesn’t work grammatically, right?”
“but I can’t deal with using a plural pronoun for a single person!”
“How does that even work in a sentence?”
Even if/when your intentions are completely innocent…having my pronoun choice (and by proxy, my identity) questioned or treated as invalid, just hurts.
I am aware that changing pronouns from the binary involves grammatical reconstruction and a rephrasing of sentences. I know it doesn’t fit into the english language as nicely as we think he & her do. But language evolves constantly.
When I broach the subject and talk about my preferred pronouns, all I really need in a response is something like this:
“okay, cool. I’ll try to remember that.”
I don’t expect perfection, I’m not going to police your use of my pronouns, I won’t be upset if you call me she/her sometimes (I still use female pronouns for myself more than I want to, because in some environments it’s easier than explaining everything, and sometimes invisibility feels safer) – as long as you accept and respect my identity and don’t try to argue or protest or complain about my word choice to me.
When in doubt, you can never go wrong by just using my name.