How can we make asking preferred gender pronouns a normal thing?

Rhinobaby Rhinobaby
I am used to asking preferred gender pronouns when making introductions in group settings at my college, but I wish there was a way to do this and not have it be so AWKWARD in "real life" settings. Has anyone ever introduced themselves, stated their pronouns, and been greeted with blank stares? How do we change this?
12/03/2013
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sexilexi29 sexilexi29
I think it will be a long time before preferred pronouns are a common part of an introduction. It's definitely not the norm. However, in the queer community, at least among my friends/acquaintances, it does seem to be pretty common. In terms of gender expression, I lean more towards the feminine side so I have never had issues with pronouns but one of my past partners uses neutral pronouns and that can be an issue. Among out friends and the activities we are involved in, preferred pronouns are a standard part of an introduction but in society at large they are often, as you said, greeted with blank stares. My advice: include preferred pronouns because 1. a little initial awkwardness is better than the incorrect pronouns and 2. the more we talk about it, the more widely accepted they will become.
12/03/2013
Ansley Ansley
This might get me flamed right off the site, but I think it's the trans* person's responsibility to ask to be called by the pronoun they prefer instead of relying on everyone else to automatically ask.
12/04/2013
SaucyxGirl SaucyxGirl
I would gently correct the person. Think of like when a child or non native speaker makes an English mistake, you gently correct without being rude or mean.
Mar 6, 12:53 pm
VAl0984 VAl0984
Quote:
Originally posted by SaucyxGirl
I would gently correct the person. Think of like when a child or non native speaker makes an English mistake, you gently correct without being rude or mean.
I Agree with your statement
Mar 9, 4:06 pm
VAl0984 VAl0984
Great topic
Mar 9, 4:07 pm
Darner Vosque Darner Vosque
Quote:
Originally posted by Ansley
This might get me flamed right off the site, but I think it's the trans* person's responsibility to ask to be called by the pronoun they prefer instead of relying on everyone else to automatically ask.
But even then--people don't expect pronoun introductions. I find that they aren't used to being told what pronouns to use for people, especially when those pronouns are different than what they would have intuitively used. It makes it awkward for all parties involved.
Mar 9, 11:31 pm
Typosable Typosable
Adjusting people who aren't used to this issue is going to be a gradual thing. I've given my pronouns while introducing myself and been met with the same indifferent or bewildered looks, but if it continues to be an issue I've gently corrected people in private and they usually seem to catch on! A lot of people really just aren't familiar with trans or nonbinary identities or haven't encountered them in their own lives - being calm and casual about it when you first meet them helps to prove that it really isn't something they should be startled by or make a fuss about.
Mar 16, 8:27 pm
GroompyGhosts GroompyGhosts
Quote:
Originally posted by Typosable
Adjusting people who aren't used to this issue is going to be a gradual thing. I've given my pronouns while introducing myself and been met with the same indifferent or bewildered looks, but if it continues to be an issue I've gently ... More
Totally agree with this!
Mar 21, 10:19 pm
eroticmutt eroticmutt
I think that the most sensible thing to do is to simply refer to other people as Them, Their or They if you're unsure about their preferred pronoun. Realistically, no people are not asking everyone what their preferred pronoun is and while it could be nice it would ultimately be better to refer to people using the neutral pronoun that is socially acceptable rather than making up something crazy that isn't even a word. No one blinks an eye if you say the elderly person (gender unspecified) dropped their hat. If you say they dropped gir/ze/ish hat then, well, it's just kind of unnatural and doesn't really prove anything that saying their won't prove.

I haven't gotten blank stares either - when I was first beginning transition I had to correct people when they called me by the wrong pronoun, but that time passed and now I don't have to deal with it.
Mar 24, 6:44 am
uneunsae uneunsae
I'm intersex/third gender and prefer masculine or neutral pronouns. However, I don't ever get upset when people use incorrect pronouns as they probably have never met someone like me. Many times, people rely on their very first impression of you (literally) to base pronouns off of. The majority of people are conditioned with extreme stereotypes and will automatically thing long hair = girl or flat chest = boy, which is unfortunate for those of us who don't fit those stereotypes. I will never "pass" either since I am not a boy or a girl. Passing for me would require a complete awareness and acceptance of the third gender which most cultures lack. People's preconceived ideas of gender need to be changed, but most have never been exposed to things other than the stereotypes so it will be a slow and gradual process.
May 21, 3:07 pm
That Man from Mars That Man from Mars
I'm also intersex, but that's just something I see as a medical condition. My gender is male, plain and simple. I display myself as such and tend to hope people simply see me as such-- which is often the case. If people mistake my gender I politely correct them. I'd rather not be asked upon meeting someone what my gender is. I'd rather people assume... and correctly.
May 21, 4:38 pm
uneunsae uneunsae
Quote:
Originally posted by That Man from Mars
I'm also intersex, but that's just something I see as a medical condition. My gender is male, plain and simple. I display myself as such and tend to hope people simply see me as such-- which is often the case. If people mistake my gender I ... More
One of my deepest wishes is to been see as who I am - third gender - so I completely understand wanting people to see us as who we are. Some days I become very sad just because so few people recognize me and I feel invisible and so invalidated.

I do correct people I get to know - just not strangers. If I corrected every person I ever came in contact with I'd have little time for anything else, not to mention people want to argue with me and TELL me who I am. Which is another discussion. Yes, I do want to educate others but I can't do that 24/7. I have a life, too. I also don't want my gender to be the topic of every single discussion.

Sigh.
May 21, 5:48 pm
That Man from Mars That Man from Mars
Quote:
Originally posted by uneunsae
One of my deepest wishes is to been see as who I am - third gender - so I completely understand wanting people to see us as who we are. Some days I become very sad just because so few people recognize me and I feel invisible and so invalidated. ... More
I've been in therapy off and on for years over this field and it's something I begrudgingly discuss.

the issue here is that no matter what, you can't please everyone. what you can do, is please the majority or the minority.

Most people identify as male or female and present with physical attributes that encourage the identification of such a gender. I wear my hair short and I wear clothing stereotypical of men because it tells society that I identify as such. I make the effort to look this way, and not because I have a thing for short hair. It's because it's important enough to me to be seen as the gender I am that I am willing to go that extra length with my appearance and even mannerism.

Is it stupid that gendered stereotypes are used and maintained? Well, kinda, yeah. It sucks to have to fit a mold. But at the same time, if I DO fit that mold, there's less a chance someone will call me "ma'am" and I'll spiral into a fit of severe dysphoria for the next week. Those stereotypes offer me shelter, so to speak.

On the other hand, folks who don't wish to identify as either gender are less common. It doesn't make their experiences less important, but consider this.

You have a room of 100 people. Half are dressed stereotypical female, half male. About 95 of those people are accurately assumed to be the gender they are based on their appearance. This makes them happy. But then we have 5 people who are misgendered because either they don't look stereotypical of their gender, or they identify with a gender which is not commonly known or understood. We have a happiness rating of 95% with our current system.

Or we could ask each and every person their gender and likely offend the entire batch, with maybe 1 or 2 people being happy they were asked their gender.

You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time. That's a motto I tend to try and live by, one I was taught during my time as a forum moderator in a very popular website. We've got to be realistic, after all. Not everyone is going to get what they want.

But we can teach people to simply accept, regardless if they understand our pronoun preferences or why we might look this way or that way. It's easy to correct someone, but not so much when they argue with you and believe me, I've had my share of that. Sure it's no fun to be misgendered, but at least a good portion of us can rely on a stereotypes system that will offer us a place to sort of blend in.
May 22, 1:41 am
uneunsae uneunsae
Quote:
Originally posted by That Man from Mars
I've been in therapy off and on for years over this field and it's something I begrudgingly discuss.

the issue here is that no matter what, you can't please everyone. what you can do, is please the majority or the ... More
That's assuming those are your only choices: please 95% or offend everyone. And it's also minimizing the feelings of the 5% and saying, "Well, since we've got the numbers, you just have to deal with it. Sucks to be you!" Why on earth would a room full of people get offended if you ask EVERYONE their gender? Why are your only options "please the majority or the minority"? I don't think this is about "pleasing" anyone i.e., someone "getting their way" as much as it is acknowledging someone's humanity and existence.

Other genders besides male and female exist and have been widely recognized by other cultures, including my Native culture which used to dominate North America. Just because, right now, in 2014 in America, people are raised to think and are used to just "male" and "female" is not a good enough excuse to say "well you can't please everyone". Most people also aren't used to trans* individuals and, in many parts of the country, gay people also. Does that mean they shouldn't raise awareness in those places? Should those people just accept that they might even be physically assaulted in those places or should people being doing things to raise awareness and promote equality?

Some people think, "Oh it's too hard, I don't want to deal with it." Those kind of people tend to use that phrase a lot in life. If it's too difficult or seems overwhelming, then it's not worth doing.

I personally would NEVER trust a therapist who told me to go with the status quo or follow the majority like a sheep instead of a human being. Maybe if we did start asking that room full of people to specify their gender, people might start thinking about it and even some might learn something and become enlightened. Sure, the initial response might be of shock and disgust (the gay and trans movements have gone through this!) but eventually once people are used to the many variations of other human beings, they are tolerant and possibly even accepting. Wow, some people might even enjoy knowing someone like me for their TRUE selves!

I don't have "all or nothing" thinking, nor am I stomping my foot and demanding that everyone recognize who I am "right now!". I myself even pointed out that I don't blame anyone and understand that it's a very long process. I might never be widely recognized as third gender in my lifetime, but that doesn't trivialize my personal feelings.

I'm happy for you that you're able to conform to whatever your society deems as "male" and it suits you just fine. That's great. But it doesn't work that way for us all, not even for the "majority" you claim it does. There are very feminine men and masculine women that are bullied and teased daily for not conforming. Conforming is never the solution to anything. It dehumanizes us. Defending stereotypes because they make you less insecure about your own identity is wrong and a failure in logic. If you need to rely on a system of stereotypes for security, then you are still insecure. Many children have been traumatized because their parents tried to force them into conforming (for many reasons, not just gender or sexuality). Adults have been traumatized for having to conform and sometimes lead double lives because they don't want to "rock the boat" so to speak.

We need more boat rockers. Maybe if everyone falls overboard and gets wet, we can have a real discussion as human beings.
May 22, 10:59 am
That Man from Mars That Man from Mars
Quote:
Originally posted by uneunsae
That's assuming those are your only choices: please 95% or offend everyone. And it's also minimizing the feelings of the 5% and saying, "Well, since we've got the numbers, you just have to deal with it. Sucks to be you!" Why ... More
As I already said, we need to raise awareness, yes. That's a given, but it won't change the habit of assuming genders because it still boils down to the lesser of two evils. Offend the 95% or the 5%. You can fluctuate those numbers a bit, but the overwhelming majority of society is male or female identified.

I didn't say fitting the male stereotype mold fits me just fine. I kind of said otherwise and at this point I'm thinking you aren't really reading everything I'm saying.

I'm from Northern Cherokee Nation. Bigotry is massive on the reservations and the concept of third gender has been pretty dead for the most part within my culture, though I cannot say much for other tribes.

Defending stereotypes isn't wrong at all. If those stereotypes are a means for hundreds of thousands of trans or intersex individuals to feel safe and blended in, that's a pretty legitimate reason to defend them.

You're happy to attack current ways at the cost of comfort for anyone who isn't like you and honestly, that's quite hypocritical.

Again, we cannot as a society please everyone, but we can at least be -respectful- and try to please as many as we can. Assumption of gender and use of stereotypes creates a safe space. Requesting to know a person's gender triggers dysphoria, and potentially not just in trans persons, but cis individuals and clearly, intersex persons such as myself.

why is your comfort more important than the comfort of everyone else?
May 22, 1:47 pm
Asher. Asher.
Quote:
Originally posted by Typosable
Adjusting people who aren't used to this issue is going to be a gradual thing. I've given my pronouns while introducing myself and been met with the same indifferent or bewildered looks, but if it continues to be an issue I've gently ... More
Excellent answer! Thanks for stating it so clearly.
9:56 pm
Total posts: 17
Unique posters: 12