It has come to my attention that certain people don’t understand how pronouns work. And that’s okay and all if you truly need help understanding them… but there are people who are choosing to remain blissfully ignorant to this relatively ‘new’ topic, and in turn completely disregard someone’s identity. THAT is where it’s not okay. Here’s me spelling it out for you, since someone has to. So without further ado, here’s my pronoun handbook.
Neopronouns & Xenopronouns
Neopronouns and Xenopronouns are pronouns that don’t fit in the major three you typically think about a.k.a. she/her, he/him, and they/them. There are infinite amounts of them: ze/zer, xe/xer, ve/ver, ey/em etc… but they can also come in the form of nouns. Cat/cats, fae/faes, paint/paints, etc… You might be asking yourself why on earth would someone use any of these pronouns, to that I say… mind your own beeswax.
If it makes the person feel more comfortable then so be it. Neurodivergent people (ADHD, Autism, etc…) often relate to them more than ‘classic’ pronouns and use said pronouns to express themselves.
Look… they can be kinda confusing but that is in no way an excuse to disrespect people. If you find them THAT difficult to use or you just don’t get it… just use their name. It is not worth putting up the fight to make someone uncomfortable on purpose.
If someone uses they/them pronouns… use them. I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain that at this point. What I want to mention specifically is using they/them when you DON’T know the pronouns of someone. This is something that even I still have to unlearn. But, overall, we shouldn’t just assume a person’s identity based on appearance.
Once you learn a person’s set of pronouns, using a different set than their preferred, INCLUDING they/them, is still misgendering them. It doesn’t matter if they do or don’t use the pronouns assigned to them at birth, if they dont use them, DON’T USE THEM.
A LOT of thought, emotional turmoil, and gender dysphoria can go into choosing pronouns, it takes a lot of bravery to not use the ones assigned to you. The least you can do is listen and respect them.
A handful of people use any pronouns, regardless of gender. If someone uses any pronouns that means use ALL of them (unless specified differently). Even if the person presents masculine or is assigned male at birth, that is not an excuse to use he/him pronouns exclusively just because it’s convenient for you (and vice versa.)
For a lot of trans (or cis people that don’t use their assigned pronouns) if they use multiple pronouns, the pronouns often rely on each other. For me, the use of she/her pronouns is dependent on the fact that I also use he/him pronouns, and vice versa. This isn’t always the case, and it can be hard to grasp, but you don’t NEED to, to be an ally.
Pronouns Do Not Equal Gender
Gender is just a label for self expression and identification. It’s a social construct in and of itself. Pronouns are just a subsect of that identity.
So, not all cis women us she/her pronouns. Not all cis men use he/him pronouns. Not all non-binary people use they/them pronouns.
By assuming all non-binary people use they/them pronouns you are actively putting them in a box they have actively taken themselves out of. Non- not, Binary- relating to, composed of, or involving two things. (Google)
People are WELL aware of how they’re perceived/present, I don’t know a single trans person that will be upset if you use she/her pronouns if they present effeminately. They will just POLITELY correct you and you move on. Trans people are hyper aware of the situations they’re in and the social climate their existence agitates.
How To Correct Yourself If You Misgender Someone
Let’s say someone you’ve known for a while changes their pronouns, I get it, it can be a difficult adjustment. No one expects you to get it right immediately. So, all you do is interrupt yourself, and correct yourself. That’s it, it’s that easy. There’s no need to explain why you messed up. There’s no need to apologize over and over and over again, that just puts the other person in a really awkward position.
We can tell when you’re trying, and when you’re not. It’s not being PC, it’s being respectful.