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Being Considerate to our Non-Binary Friends with Language

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  • Forum Moderator
Jackie C.

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?



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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
Jackie C.

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.



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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.



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.




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6 hours ago, Gabriel said:

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.

This is my perspective exactly. Some of the most hurtful experiences I've had as a transgender woman have come from other transgender people either blatantly misgendering me, via improper gender address or pronouns, or even denying my female identity altogether.


Just because this has been done to me doesn't give me the right to do it. I make the efforts possible to respect others' identities.

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As I commented on Gabriel's post, I make all the efforts I can to ensure I respect others' identities. It's the least we can do for our community.


However, I do want to also say that I have had my identity denied by non-binary people who wish to see the gender binary erased completely. This is not as uncommon as one might think. I'm not the only transgender woman in my vicinity who has experienced this. I lost a dear friend to this, as they simply could not respect me as a woman. It's heart wrenching.


We ALL have to be respectful to one another. Regardless of the gender spectrum we are coming from.

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