Pronouns

It’s national coming out day. It will come as no surprise to any of you that I’m queer/lesbian. I’ve been able to be out and proud about that since the mid 1980’s – a combination of family acceptance, and living in places and doing work where it was accepted. And now, not only am I publicly out, but I make my living helping queer women (out, or not) have better relationships.

What you also probably know, as I’ve made mention of it several times, is that although I don’t identify as trans, I’m genderqueer. What does that mean, exactly? For me, it simply means that my own personal, embodied gender, is complicated. I’m not a man stuck in a woman’s body, but I am also not just simply a woman. I’m both, and neither. The term “agender” doesn’t really work for me, because I don’t feel without gender. I guess Bigender works better, but somehow, that doesn’t really fit either. Two-spirit would work, but alas, I don’t actually get to call myself that. Had I been born 40 years later than I was, how I get to form and define myself as a human being probably would be a lot different (and, likely, a whole lot easier.) But being 56, having lived as a woman for my life, and having been formed largely in the lesbian feminist 80s, it’s a bit more challenging.

For most of this year, I have been pondering pronouns. The funny thing about pronouns is that you rarely hear people speak yours in your actual presence. But anyway, getting to choose one’s preferred pronoun is important, and it’s important that people respect the pronoun you’ve chosen. I have to admit to occasionally flubbing it up, especially if I’ve known someone for a while, but I do my very best to remember (and apologize if appropriate.)

And I deeply (deeply) resent the fact that the English language does not have a gender-neutral pronoun except for “they/their.” I have to admit I have a block about that one – I know it’s technically correct, but it just feels so impersonal and strange. I’ve gotten much more used to using it, as I know several people for whom that is their pronoun, but I just can’t make it mine. I’d make “ze/hir” my preferred pronoun if anyone (well, besides those in the know) actually knew it, and used it on regular occasions. But it has not made it into the mainstream.  Nor has “xe” or “per” or any other.

So basically, I have come around to this: I don’t really have a preferred pronoun. Use ze/hir if you want to – I guess in a way that’s a preference, but it’s not really so hard and fast. I’d be totally fine if you used she, he, they, zie, xe, per, or whatever you want. Have fun. Play with it (yes, I realize this paragraph is going to drive some of you nuts, but this is how it feels to be me.)

Ze woke up in the morning, looking at her clock. It was earlier than he wanted to get up, but then xe realized their appointment in the morning was cancelled. “Ah,” she thought. He turned over, and went back to sleep.

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