Why pronouns matter

So, my thoughts on the pronoun thing.

I use they/them as my pronouns, rather than she/her or he/him. And yes, that is singular they. The usage is precisely the same as more traditional pronouns:

  • This is Pete. He is late.
  • This is Paula. She is early.
  • This is Pen. They are on time.

Very simple, right?

Some people have multiple sets of pronouns that they use, some people use gendered pronouns, some people like neopronouns; that’s all fine – but I use singular they, and I want that to be respected.

Why does it matter? It matters because if you are deliberately using the wrong pronouns for me, you’re doing a number of things simultaneously:

  • You’re saying that you think you know my gender better than I do myself
  • You’re saying that you don’t care about making me feel safe, welcome or respected
  • You’re saying that I don’t matter enough to you for you to respect my request for you to use the right pronouns
  • You’re (maybe) saying that you care more about using “correct” grammar than about making me unhappy

Now, you might not intend to do any of those things, but those are the things that you’re conveying to me when you use the wrong pronouns.

I don’t expect anyone to get it right 100% of the time – I still make mistakes myself – but if I’ve told you my pronouns, I expect you to try and remember to use them. It’s exactly the same as trying to remember your friends’ preferred nicknames, or dietary requirements, or any other information that you remember about people you know. It’s a basic courtesy that you should give other people, and it’s one that I try to give everyone around me. All I’m asking is that you do the same.

© bardofupton 2018

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