Trans* Pronouns 101
Nobody wants to be that person in a social situation. You know, the one who gets their pronouns all wrong? There you are in a room with people identifying as ze, they or hir and it doesn’t even occur to you to ask. You make a few assumptions about peoples’ genders, are met with blank stares or even worse, and pretty soon you’re in a corner all alone. Well, we’re here to help you not be that person.
If you’re not sure what went wrong, but are sure you don’t want to be that person in any room, then it may be time for you to update your gender and pronoun vocabulary. Avoiding a social faux pas and respecting a person’s ability to identify themselves, will ensure you get an invite to the next function. Pronouns are a basic building block of language that indicate the gender of the person you’re referring to. Traditionally, pronouns come in he/him or she/her, and are determined based on what’s assigned at birth. For example, when somebody is born and the doctor says, “It’s a girl! She’s beautiful. What will you name her?”Cisgender folks are those who feel their bodies are aligned with their gender assigned at birth, which is the experience most supported by society. So, for many cis folks, the story of their gender ends right there, as does their thinking about the appropriate label in which to address a person.
But the two-party system of pronouns is outdated, as there are a range of people whose gender stories are more complex. Finding self-descriptive language that feels right can be a tricky process, and one that only the individual can determine best. Some transgender folks identify as male or female, though it’s the opposite gender of the one assigned at birth. Genderqueers don’t subscribe to the idea of only two genders and may feel more comfortable somewhere in between. Bigenders identify as male and female and some First Nations folks embody both feminine and masculine spirits. Agenders identify as no gender at all. Luckily, there are more neutral personal pronoun options now, including they/their, ze/hir, ey/eir and the newborn, Swedish ‘hen’ . Recognition of diverse gender identities has a long history around the world, and neutral pronouns are language’s way of catching up.
So, where does this leave you? When you’re mingling at a party, heading up a meeting, or in school, just be mindful of the potential for multiple genders in the room. If you’re unsure of someone’s preferred pronouns, don’t be afraid to ASK. Once you learn them, use them every time, like you would for anyone else. Not being that person can be as simple as that.
Thank for asking!
Want to learn more? Check out:
LGB* Charts and Graphs
OkCupid’s Personality Charts 2011 (Straight V. Gay/Lesbian)
(text below from OKCupid)
More than just asking about specific desires and behaviors, our match questions are designed to tease out our users’ underlying personalities. We’ve collected over 669 million answers from users so far.
LGBTQ* Flow Chart
It is Okay to Say “Gay” — here’s when
LBGTQ* Charts and Graphs
Androphilia: attraction to males/men
Gynephilia: attraction to females/women
Sexual Orientation / Person’s Assigned Sex or Gender Identity
*Please note, I did not create this chart. I was also unable to find a chart which read Gender Identity instead of “sex.” This is not intended to be a cis-privileged post, nor to deny anyone’s sexual orientation based on their assigned sex at birth.
LBGTQ* Maps and Charts
OkCupid’s Chart of “Gay Curious USA & Canada”
**OkCupid.com is a free online dating/meeting site. It recognizes sexuality as “gay/lesbian/bi/straight” and gender as “male/female.” It can be assumed that the data from the map above was collected from the series of survey questions members of the website fill out in order to find a more compatible match. Graph from 2011.
LGBTQ* Graphs, Charts and Diagrams
The Storms Model
Model based on Michael Storms (University of Kansas)
Theories of Sexual Orientation(1980)
LGBTQ* Polls and Culture Views
Views on Gay and Lesbian Issues by Age
(General Public, Millennials (18-29), Seniors (65+) )
** Public Religion Research Institute, July 2011