Saturday, June 29, 2013

When Political Pronouns Aren't Appropriate

This is in response to an inquiry from somebody.  Ze said that ze was contemplating using the same pronoun set for everybody, because it just felt "right" to zir.  I am actually really glad that ze had the decency to ask this question; I have seen some radical gender publications that make suggestions like switching everyone's pronouns for a day or using only one pronoun set, seemingly without critical thinking and without any hint of consent from the people being forcibly degendered.  Essentially when people do this they are using peoples' pronouns as a political statement against the concept of gender.

I'm going to put this out there right now:  No, you do not have permission to use any pronouns to describe me except typical male he/him/his.  The only exception is if you do not know my gender identity (a different issue entirely), which I just revealed to you anyway.

"It just feels right to me" is never an excuse to intentionally use non-preferred pronouns.  Seriously.  A lot of people think non-preferred pronouns "feel right" to them and they're always wrong.  For my parents, using female pronouns to describe me "just feels right" because they used them for me while I grew up.  But they're wrong.  TERFy radical feminists and conservative bigots alike think it "just feels right" to use the pronouns somebody was assigned at birth no matter what their identity or life situation is.  They're wrong, too... and so are you.  And this isn't something I'm just saying with no experience, here.  I've dealt with pronoun switches among friends before, and you know what?  It's uncomfortable.  The pronouns I originally learned "feel right to me" at first, too.

But they're not right.  It's not about me, my feelings, my politics, or my preferences.  It's about them.

Keep in mind that although I'm sure many people do this with the intent to make some statement to cisgender people, it will be an ineffective statement (misgendering doesn't affect cis people the way it affects trans people), not to mention you will inevitably be balling trans people--stealth or otherwise--and nonbinary gendered people into this experiment of yours, and many of us have had to deal with the pain of constant misgendering for a very long time.