Believe it or not, conversations about pronouns have the potential to get really emotional really fast. We were going to include a meme about the transgender experience to lighten the mood, but our Google search brought up a myriad of transphobic internet troll-ery instead – welcome to being trans, kiddos! To make it up to you, here’s a GIF of Brie Larson producing a rainbow:
Isn’t that so much better? Now back to pronouns:
As the quote on our homepage implies, coming out as transgender or gender non-conforming (GNC) is an act of trust and love—both self-love and love for the person to whom we’re confiding. Many folx are so afraid of rejection that they withhold their gender identity from the world or take their own lives rather than risk coming out.
Some folx who transition describe it as the hardest thing they’ve ever done or will ever do. For some, coming out is the epitome of vulnerability after a lifetime of being anything but open. Being trans and GNC is HARD, and if you are reading this as an ally or loved-one, we encourage you to really consider what it meant for the trans or GNC person you know and love to come out to you.
Pronouns have become a hot topic when discussing the trans community. Some folx—both cis and trans—are really good at using people’s chosen pronouns, while others…have a lot of room for growth.
Below is a conjugation chart for different pronouns:
Pretty cool, right? While some trans and GNC folx will respond to whichever pronouns are thrown at them without preference, many people are highly offended when somebody calls them by the wrong pronoun. Misgendering is a term used to describe microaggressions, wherein individuals call trans or GNC individuals by the incorrect names or pronouns. A build up of these microaggressions can lead to Queer Battle Fatigue, wherein a queer person is so overwhelmed by microaggressions that their mental health suffers significantly. While research about Queer Battle Fatigue is fairly limited, it is thought to be one of the most common causes of suicidality.
It was an Accident—What’s the big Deal?
When some transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are misgendered, they internalize the slight as a fault of theirs instead of a mistake on the part of the speaker—essentially, that they aren’t passing well enough for you to use the correct pronouns (see the Passing tab). This internalization can lead to feeling like their gender identity has been invalidated, making them feel unsafe in your company or in their own bodies. Some folx even consider misgendering a trans or GNC person to be an “act of violence.”
For some, these microaggressions can lead to intensified self-loathing, episodic panic (refer to Interventions for Gender Dysphoria tab), or a host of other negative emotions.
How Can I Be Better?
Practice makes perfect. To the best of your abilities, use people’s correct pronouns whenever you refer to them (unless it endangers their safety).
From our personal experience, people who struggle with pronoun use have a harder time when consuming alcohol and drugs. Therefore, if you want to be better about using your loved-one’s pronouns, be mindful of how substances impact your ability to gender them correctly.
The website below has a host of information about pronoun use, why it’s important, and additional resources:
We’re not trying to scare anybody with the aforementioned information about pronouns. You’re probably going to mess up. When you do, correct yourself (don’t make the trans or GNC person have to do it), then move on with the conversation. Don’t make it a pity party about you.
If you are not the person who did the misgendering, but it happened in your presence, be the person who steps in to correct the mistake. Trans and GNC folx get sick of correcting people’s pronoun use, so speaking up shows not only that you are a committed ally, but relieves the trans or GNC person from the burden of correction.
To our trans and GNC kiddos—sorry in advance. Folx are going to mess up. It’s not you, it’s them. We love you and you are beautiful snails forever and ever. Some people will get it immediately, some won’t. Again, it’s not you, it’s them.
Most importantly—both for allies and trans and GNC folx—be patient and be kind. Pronouns are a big deal, but without patience and kindness, nothing will ever change.
“I don’t want special treatment
I don’t want attention.
I just want to coexist
On the realm that you play on.”Steam Powered Giraffe – “Transform”