Home > Introduction > A word on pronouns.

A word on pronouns.

December 20, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

At the holiday office party, I was being introduced to a colleague who works in an office in Texas, and my friend Z said, “Oh, he’s really cool.” – of me.  It didn’t seem out of place to me at all, and each of us didn’t really glance at the other, even though this was the first time in my life that anyone who had gotten a good chance to look at my face used male pronouns.  About ten minutes later, she found me and said, “I’ve never told you, but I use male pronouns for you outside of work.  It just seems like that’s what you want.”

For posterity’s sake, my preference on pronouns is that you use what slips out of your mouth.  I’ve heard transpeople say that before as they begin to come out, and I’ve laughed a little bit, because I think what they hope is that people will use the pronouns of the gender that they really feel they are.  In queer communities, we can switch it up, but outside of our subculture, pronouns must be insisted upon.  It’s unfortunate but also true.

For me, however, I really don’t insist on my pronouns, because I really don’t care.  It might be the genderqueer part of me (genderqueer being an identity I feel more and more at ease with), but I don’t.  When I speak of myself as Harrison, using this pseudonym, I usually use male pronouns.  It just slips out because it matches the name.  But using my real name, I always hear and use female pronouns.  I think gender-neutral pronouns are awesome (in particular, I like ze, zim, and zan), but those rarely “slip out”, due to the fact that there are so few people in my life who use them.  When I say “Please use whatever pronouns come naturally to you” to people, I know that 90% of the time they will use female pronouns.  Masculine pronouns delight me, but I almost like the idea of keeping them a surprise!

Categories: Introduction
  1. J-Rob
    December 20, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    This has been on my mind a lot lately. People who know me all use female pronouns for me and get quite upset when others (mistakenly) don’t. Meanwhile, I end up using masculine terms about myself; often referring to myself as a guy, a dude, or a boi.

    About a year ago someone was speaking to my wife and kept referring to me using masculine pronouns, when my wife looked confused, the woman said “oh, doesn’t he like to be referred to as he”? It was the first time someone who knew me and knew I was not biologically male used male pronouns about me and my whole family was horrified. I didn’t even get a chance to decide whether or not I was offended, they were all offended for me! Since then I’ve thought about it off and on and I still don’t have any answers.

    Thanks for the awesome post, more for me to think about.

  2. G
    January 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I think I’m with you when I state that whatever pronoun someone uses is usually fine with me. I’ve found that I don’t have as much reaction to/preference for pronouns as I do with nouns. Hearing daughter, girlfriend, girl or lady really throw me off, as I’m much more comfortable with guy, bro, dude, mister, etc.

  1. December 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm

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