“Hi so one of my friends recently asked me and some other friends to use female pronouns, despite me having used male for the year I have known them. I’m tempted to ask why the change? But I feel if that’s rude and uncalled for. Should I just leave it and not ask and if not, how would I go about asking?”
This is a very good question, and I’m really glad you asked. Here are some things to consider in making your choice whether to ask or not (we’ll come to ‘how’ in a moment):
Do you and this friend have the kind of relationship where you talk about deeply personal things?
Have you and this friend ever spoken about gender issues before?
Is your question motivated by a deep-seated interest in her identity and process around making this very challenging and brave decision in her life, as well as a desire to offer her support in handling its ramifications?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, chances are you should leave it alone.
If you are indeed motivated by the interest and desire I mentioned – and not at all by plain curiosity – here is a way that you can open the door for your friend without demanding that she account for herself, to you:
“Hey. I want you to know that I’m interested in your process around this shift and your feelings about how it’s going and what led you here. If you ever feel as though you’d like to talk about it with me, I am so open to that and would like to offer you whatever support I can. However, I also completely respect your choice to never talk about it at all, with me, ever.”
Finally, if you feel like the offer of support would not be genuine or would just be something you can’t follow through on (due to lack of time, energy, capacity, knowledge, desire, etc. – fair enough) then once again I would say just leave it alone and make the requested language changes.
I really appreciate the question, and come back if you have more!