Let me preface this by saying first that I understand gender as a full spectrum of biological expression, and that I roundly reject the idea of solely binary gender classification. And if you don’t, I recommend listening to this podcast about the current science around gender research.
I remember a few years ago when someone first suggested that I should use “they” as a safe pronoun to refer to all genders. Of course, I took umbrage at the idea: why co-opt our plural pronoun and create language confusion when people could just tell us what pronoun they preferred?
And now…well, now I know for a fact all language is hopelessly broken, and my opinion has changed. I was wrong, but not about “they” as a gender neutral pronoun replacement.
If I had to constantly correct or remind people about my gender because they call me the wrong pronoun I would find that…unacceptable. Which is exactly the thought experiment that should be attempted by people who don’t think pronouns are an issue. Imagine yourself called the opposite pronoun of your gender identity, and then when you correct someone on it, they say “whatever”. Real problem.
I want to support trans and non-binary folks as much as I can, so I believe I have a solution…at least one that may eliminate the pronoun issue.
We all have names. We allow people to go by whatever name they choose. And a pronoun is simply a pointer to that name. But what if we just got rid of the pronouns completely and called each other only by our names?
Taking away an indeterminate placeholder for identity makes language less broken.
It’s time to eliminate pronouns completely.
No more he, no more she, no more they to refer to an individual. Just call them by their names. And use “they/them” to refer to everyone or a group exclusively, as in the sentence above.
Because I don’t know your gender identity, and you don’t know my intentions. There are real battles to fight in the world, and my perceived microgressions against you likely distract both of us from them.
Fight for your name, and I will fight for mine. We are Singletons, we are unique in the universe and should endeavor to be reconized as such. Fighting over pointers to our names divides natural allies in making the world more accepting of trans, non-binary and cis gender identity.
And if I happen to use any pronoun in the future, apologies. Going to take some practice to eliminate this pointless pointer.
Image above from transcister blog.