Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Gender Pronouns

Have you ever had pushback from stating your “preferred” pronouns?
Do You Exclude Transgender People?
Huffington Post Politics
By Andrew Royce Bauer
Posted: 11/28/2015

Sitting down in a room of strangers brought together for the very first time to discuss emerging topics such as sexuality and inclusion - I made the mistake of making too fast an assumption, committing an 'oops' before walking all the way through the door.

We began our meeting with introductions: 'name, organization representing, pronouns, and something unique about yourself,' said the moderator, a very popular trans womyn of color in the activist community. Each person present went down the list of items, but I noticed the careful attention some took to deliberately articulate their pronouns (he/him/his, they/them/their, she/her/hers, etc).

In that moment, I was affixed with being proven wrong. Obsessed with the way in which everyone's gender would be exposed to me. It was the first time I had come across a space where my gender was hyper visible, not only to those around me, but to myself.

When it came to be my turn, I blurted out my name, my human rights organizer status, and how I run my business ROYCE as a special talent. Immediately I turned to look over to the next person to signal I had finished. Staring at them staring at me, I realized my introduction was incomplete. Upon making this realization, I blurted out, 'he/him?' and looked again to my neighbor to distract from the hyperfocus on my body.

If there was one takeaway I learned from my introduction to gender, privilege means not having to think about it. I am rarely challenged to wear my gender, although I perform it in every situation whether sitting amongst friends or those I have never met.
It is an interesting way to put it, “privilege means not having to think about it” but it is true. For many cisgender (Cisgender means identifying with your birth gender) people pronouns are obvious. If your gender presentation matches your gender identity pronouns come naturally but for some people they are more androgynous and their gender identity is not obvious.

A couple of weeks ago we were giving a training seminar for homeless shelters staff and 211 operators and we had one woman who very strongly pushed back on having to state her gender. We used that as a learning moment to help everyone understand what it is like to have your gender questioned.

We use gender specific words all the time and I question why.

When we call up customer service why do they say “Thank you sir” or “Thank you ma’am” when they are talking to you and they don’t know your gender and all they hear is your voice? Why can’t they just say “Thank you” and leave off the sir or ma’am.

1 comment:

  1. I am a woman and I identify as a woman, but I am not as "feminine" as most, as far as my natural looks, my behavior, the way I dress, etc. There have been quite a few times when people blatantly asked me "Are you a woman or a man?" The time I remember most was at a courthouse in Chicago, where going through security they had one line for men and one line for women, and I was really just a kid, a teenager. I had on blue jeans and a blue winter jacket that had been my brother's and my hair was in braids and I think I was wearing a hat. The deputy or whoever it was who was running security asked me, "Are you a man or a woman?" and I felt so embarrassed, and the lady I was there with got mad at the guy and said, "She's a little girl!" It is weird how people want to know your gender as the most important thing, they can't seem to proceed without knowing, and if you don't look and act like they expect people of your gender to be, then they sort of snub you.