I’m going to sound old now, but it’s true that when I was growing up we had a limited number of pronouns and he/him/his was used for boys/men, and she/her/hers was used for girls/women. They/them was used for a group of people- or- used if we didn’t know which sex we were referring to.

Fast forward several years, gender pronouns are no longer standardized based on gender assigned at birth. My pronouns can be the pronouns that I think fit me the best, and there are more to choose from than she, he, or they. It might seem like a radical idea, but it seems to me that it couldn’t be more logical. Why wouldn’t I want to be referred to by the pronouns that suit me the best? 

I’m still learning about all of this. I make lots of mistakes, it took me quite a bit of practice to use they/them correctly for example. Sometimes I don’t understand new pronouns (and there seem to be quite a few), but I remind myself that my privilege is talking. I’m also very fortunate to have a couple of really great 20 somethings in my life who don’t mind calling me out when necessary. I don’t mind this either, they are pretty gentle and it helps me learn.

What I do mind, however, are people who refuse to budge when their biases on this issue are challenged. Whether it is from a place of fear or misinformation or not understanding or ego, it is disrespectful and hurtful to ignore a person’s gender identity and refuse to use their preferred pronouns. 

I know that I speak about all of this from a position of privilege. People perceive me as female, and that is how I identify. I don’t have to choose between living with an incorrect assumption or correcting someone about my pronouns. Because of this,I feel that have a responsibility to help reduce the stigma around, and hopefully contribute to the normalization of gender pronouns.

I hope that one day we won’t be discussing why someone would use they/them/theirs or xe/xem/xyr instead of she/her/hers or he/him/his, because it will be just as normal as calling someone by their name.

If you want to dig into pronouns or just practice a little, here are two good resources to get you started.




Thanks for being here,

Ellin- she/her

February 22, 2022 — Rebecca Porterfield

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