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Being Considerate to our Non-Binary Friends with Language


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  • Forum Moderator

So I wanted to take a moment to talk about including our non-binary members. I'd like to remind all my friends here at TransGenderPulse that not everyone identifies in the neat little boxes we call "male" and "female, "boys" and "girls," or even "men" and "women." For some of us, nature had other plans.

 

One of my favorite people in the world is intersex and genderfluid. They like to be identified as "he" or "she" depending on how they're presenting on that particular day. That's OK. I try my best to accommodate them. Sometimes I screw up and need to be corrected. That's OK because we're friends.

 

One of my oldest friends is bigender. They like to be referred to as "he" or "she" depending on how they're presenting that particular day. Fortunately for my slow brain, they tend to go all-out when they're presenting feminine so that's an easy switch for me to make.

 

I've got more friends, some I've made here and some out into the world who don't identify with either gender. They prefer to be addressed as they/them or just friend. I like friend the best. We're all friends here, right? I'd like us to stay friends and keep our circle growing. It's always good to have more friends.

 

Language is a powerful tool. It shapes our perception of the world. It lets us communicate our ideas. It helps us preserve knowledge for future generations. Like most tools, it can be used to help or harm. I'd like all my transgender friends to stop and think about how it feels to be mis-gendered. I want you to remember how deep the words cut when somebody calls you "sir" or "ma'am" when that's not who you are. Your cheeks heat and you get that lump in your throat. Your inner self screams at the world that it isn't who you are, but you choke on it. It has to roll off your back. You mustn't make a scene.

 

Now stop and think about what words like, "ladies" and "bros" do to all of us who don't fit into those neat little boxes. Sure, I like being referred to as a woman. I am a woman. We have members that like being referred to as men. That's OK, they're men. There are more choices than those two little boxes though. I think it's our duty when posting publicly to be as inclusive as we can. We're all friends here. Calling our fellow travelers friend instead of "ladies" or "my dudes" isn't really a hardship, is it?

 

Sometimes, we can say things in the moment that we don't mean. We can say things without thinking. I think we can be better. Isn't that what being your true self is about in the end? Being the absolute best version of yourself that you can be?

 

Hugs!

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  • Forum Moderator

Thank you for this Jackie.  We can say things in the moment but its important to self correct.  Its important to be the best version of ourselves and recognize that others are doing so as well.

 

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1 hour ago, Jackie C. said:

Fortunately for my slow brain, they tend to go all-out when they're presenting feminine so that's an easy switch for me to make.

 

My only issue is this part. It's unfortunate to have a slow brain. But you aren't slow brained. It's still a learning experience that still need work to reinforce the habit.

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  • Forum Moderator

Fair enough, but being too hard on myself is something my therapist and I are working on. I had a much more difficult time with the lovely non-binary person who helped me get legal support with TLDEF. Admittedly, I've never met them in person, but I'm still kicking myself for slipping up with their pronouns during our correspondence.

 

Hugs!

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Thank you Jackie. We are the first ones who should make the effort to gender correctly our friends. If we who understand what that means and how it hurts don't make the effort, how can we ask cis people to make the same effort?

 

I know I need to pay more attention myself.

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1 hour ago, Jackie C. said:

Fair enough, but being too hard on myself is something my therapist and I are working on. I had a much more difficult time with the lovely non-binary person who helped me get legal support with TLDEF. Admittedly, I've never met them in person, but I'm still kicking myself for slipping up with their pronouns during our correspondence.

 

Hugs!

But at least you recognize and try to correct the mistake. One small step for everybody, can be one giant leap for human kind. You have all my ? s

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Thank you for posting this, @Jackie C.. I strive to use everyone's preferred name and pronouns whenever I can and I ask if I'm unsure. I also make a concerted effort to use gender-neutral language whenever possible. I do hope that people let me know if I make a mistake and that I never intend to use the wrong pronouns or language. But language is indeed a funny thing. Words in many languages have a gender assigned to them, so a binary way of linguistic thinking is ingrained into our brains just as much as the social and cultural aspects of gender are. I agree that simply having awareness of and being sensitive to these issues are the first steps towards creating a more inclusive world for everyone across all gender identities and expressions.

 

Love,

~Audrey.

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  • 4 months later...

I’m in danger of making a rod for my own back. I’ve thought about where I sit on the non binary ‘scale’ and, it’s shifting at the moment. 
 

Now, I might want to place myself at a point where I would like neutral pronouns. At the same time, there are some people who know that I’m transitioning to non binary. (Is that terminology correct? Can you transition from amab to neutrois, or is transitioning purely like..... mtf?). Anyway, if somebody turned round to me and said ‘I think you’re now more female than male, then I’d be tempted to tell them to use she/her if they wished. 
equally, I’d be somewhat concerned that I’d like overstepped my target. I don’t want to present as female, at the moment, I think, but that could be denial or something. 
 

I’ll wrap this up with..... I just do not know what pronouns or gender to use with myself at the moment and I’m having difficulty deciding what others should call me. 
 

 

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  • Forum Moderator
2 hours ago, PixieOfTheHills said:

I’ll wrap this up with..... I just do not know what pronouns or gender to use with myself at the moment and I’m having difficulty deciding what others should call me. 

 

Let us know and we will do our best. We will screw up from time to time. I try my best, but gender neutral pronouns are rough for my calcified brain to process for some reason. Nobody's perfect. What matters is that they try.

 

For now though, let's just call you friend. OK?

 

Hugs!

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  • Admin

Thanks for this topic, Jackie.  It's very important.  As long as I've been here, and as many times as I interact with community members IRL, I am still often confused and I find using pronouns like "they/them" awkward.  It's just that folks from my generation aren't used to it, and it takes us time to make the adjustment.  But like you said, we need to try our best, and I think that goes a long way.  What more people from the cis-world, right?  I've always tried to cut cis-folk a lot of slack, as long as they aren't misgendering and using the wrong pronouns in a hurtful way.  For me, as long as they make an effort, its all good.

 

Carolyn Marie

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It goes further with me.....

 

 because I’m now so aware that I shouldn’t use the wrong pronouns etc, it spills over into even talking about people in general. Eg. Yesterday I was posting about somebody I know and I was worried about referring to ‘her’, because as far as I know...... that’s what....... they...... are. It’s like I’m now scared to use her/she/him/his at all about....... anybody!!!

 

 If I ever get told off about using the wrong pronouns, I’m going to feel so bad...... hence my extreme caution. 
 

on a slightly parallel vein, my name & ‘sometimes dead’ name. I am known to nearly everybody by my given name. But I’ve chosen an androgynous name I use with the few select people who know I’m non binary. Now, Is this a bad thing to do? I ask myself. It’s being deceitful, perhaps? I don’t know. I’ll speak to my therapist about it, who knows my dead name and chosen name, the latter of which she uses. 

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  • Forum Moderator

It's a good topic to raise Jackie, and some of the points here have raised just how complicated it is, even for us who are better placed to understand.

 

My current view is really to worry little if the person adressing us is being natural and not deliberately negative. For one thing, unless someone is obviously who they feel or know they are then the uninitiated cannot really be chastised for getting it wrong. When I read here on the forum I myself often find it difficult to ascertain correct gender and pronouns so I am certain the general population will, and probably always will, get it wrong.

 

I raise this point, bearing in mind that I read in the news this week about the fallout from a railway employee anouncing with ' ladies and gentlemen' : https://uk.news.yahoo.com/railway-firm-apologises-non-binary-093229536.html

 

My own view, even though speaking as someone who is ~ non binary -> mtf is that this is just political correctness gone mad. I know others will have a different view but I am not looking for discussion of this, just giving an example of how extreme things may get if everyone would want their different ways with recourse to litigation etc if they didn't get their way. There are many views on any situation and I think the danger for everyone is for people to take or give offence on a whim, no matter how slighted they feel.

 

If, or more probably when, I get it wrong please accept my apologies as I am only human.

 

Tracy

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I totally agree Tracey. The thing is, I find, that the media gets involved and in order to turn news into entertainment, they blow everything up sensationally to the point where people are led to a negative view of something, which results in bad publicity. There’sa certain morning TV presenter  here in the uk who relishes doing this. 

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  • Forum Moderator
1 hour ago, PixieOfTheHills said:

There’sa certain morning TV presenter  here in the uk who relishes doing this. 

 

Yeah, we have those in the US too. They're looking for clicks/views and outrage drives up their ratings. It's like reality TV: You find a batch of the CRAZIEST SOBs you can dredge up and use them to represent your show because that'll get the audience tuning back in.

 

If the crazy happens to reinforce the world-view of your audience, that gets them coming back and there's a whole layer of "turn the serfs against each other" baked in. It's just a mess. Things were ever so much saner in the days before the 24-hour news cycle. Now it's all "fill time" and "rile-up the base!"

 

Hugs!

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