Month: February 2014

Can anyone use ‘they’ as a pronoun, regardless of identity?

turtlesnapp asked:

“Hello!! I am a cis girl and have always felt like a girl 100% of the time. I’ve never questioned my gender, but they pronouns seems very comforting and I was thinking about using them in addition to she. I identify very strongly with she.. but I also am thinking I find comfort in they, and I was wondering. Am I stepping over certain bounds? Am I abusing something by doing this? And if it turns out I don’t feel comfy with they anymore? Think you could help me out? :((“

Hi there turtlesnapp! Thank you so much for asking!

My personal opinion (all I’ve got) is that people choose to use gender-neutral pronouns for the very reason that you articulate with regard to your own situation: comfort. I know people of many different stripes, who use a variety of identity terms and understand their genders in many different ways, who would prefer that others use a gender-neutral mode of address when referring to them.

There is so much diversity among trans* and gender non-conforming folks that there cannot be a stable boundary to step over. I’m sure that many people would suggest keeping in mind the different barriers faced by people who are not cis-gendered and use gender-neutral pronouns. One example could be the (potentially) greater ease of people who can be choosey about when to request their chosen pronoun and when to go with whatever people are using for them, in the interest of safety or just getting by. To the extent that you feel safe and able, I would suggest using your evolving experiences as a ‘they’ user to be a vocal ally to other (and particularly trans*) users and educate those around you. Many of us don’t feel safe doing this work, and if you find that your identifying as cis-gendered gives you more opportunities to do so – which it very well may not depending on your circumstances – please carry it forward as best you can.

I’m confident that requesting gender-neutral pronouns will change how you are received, questioned and engaged by others – keep in touch!

Hope this helps,

Lee

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Coming out as genderqueer on Facebook

milkandqueerios asked:

“Any tips on how to “come out” as genderqueer on Facebook? I want to request that my friends use singular they for my pronoun but I’m not sure how to ask…”

Hello there milkandqueerios!

(I’m going to assume from your question that you feel a degree of safety in coming out on Facebook, seeing as you seem to have decided and are working out the logistics. If I’m wrong I apologize.)

I’m glad that I happened to dawdle a bit on answering your question because it just so happens that Facebook just changed their gender options to add about a dozen new identity terms including genderqueer. You can also select ‘they’ as a pronoun. The odd part is that the form is set up in such a way that you can’t select a pronoun without indicating a gender. I also identify as genderqueer and feel quite comfortable with that term (at least more so than any other) and yet there was something odd about putting it into a form! Maybe I just don’t like forms? #contrarian

So, in this day and age it appears you can passively come out by letting Facebook do the work for you. Whenever someone sees anything about you or wants to interact with you in a scripted way (‘Send them a message’, for example) ‘they/them’ will be used.

If you want to do something more direct, I would suggest figuring out if there is a particular group of people who you really want to reach out to and restrict your post using FB’s various settings. I say this because I have about 150 friends who I never talk to including many from high school who I only keep because sometimes I get curious (if I’m honest). Do I want them or others to get in touch and ask when I’m having The Surgery, heaven forbid? Do I want to do a trans/genderqueer 101 workshop for people? Do I want to spark a strange wall discussion among people likely not in the loop? Personally, I wouldn’t. But if you feel open to peoples’ questions and interpretations who aren’t active parts of your life anymore, I salute you and encourage you to skip this step.

However, you will get questions regardless of whether you restrict who can see the post (which you might like, but which some don’t). I would honestly keep the post simple and keep your boundaries – you don’t have to get back to everyone who has a quibble or a query. Perhaps say what you want from people (please use this pronoun for me), a brief reason why (I identify as genderqueer and what that means to me) and then refer them to a usage guide like…this one? TIMP? #shamelessplug

You can also encourage anyone to ask me questions and I’ll do the public education (it is after all the point of this blog)! And finally, if these are close friends you are talking about – and providing you feel safe doing so – why not ask them in person? You could even enlist the coolest of them to post things on your wall or tag you in things appearing on your wall in which they use your chosen pronoun, leading by example. Just a thought. Or, if you choose to make a coming out statement on FB, you could prepare these same friends in advance so that they can get right on there and offer positive feedback or other support in the comments section.

Hope this helps, and happy FB-ing,

Lee