Tag Archives: pronouns

what to do if you’re having trouble with someone’s pronouns

k. so i know there are a fuck-ton of these lists out there, but i figure it can’t hurt to add my voice to the din. just remember to check out other cats’ suggestions on this topic cuz then you’ll be extra prepared. also, different situations are different. (where do i come up with these profound sayings? i dunno. i’m just a fucking genius, ok?) seriously, though, i’m sure there are lots of situations my list is totes inappropriate for, so use your judgement. also, multiple perspectives are always good cuz intersectionality.

anyway, in no particular order, here’s what i think you should consider doing if you’re having trouble with someone’s pronouns.

  • let the person know you’re working on getting their pronouns right.
    • be sure you’re not trying to guilt them into saying “oh, you poor dear! i’ll just let you misgender me then!”
    • also be sure they know you’re not trying to guilt them. lots of people tell me how haaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAaarrRd my pronouns are, hoping i’ll give them a free pass. (which will never fucking happen, btw. lawlno.)
    • basically, just let them know that you’re working on it and that you’re gonna keep working on it (i think this is super important). only say it once, though. please don’t say it every time you fuck up. pleaseplease don’t.
    • don’t ask them to have patience with you cuz if they haven’t fucking slain you yet, they are having patience with you.
    • don’t tell them you’re having trouble with their pronouns, though, cuz that sounds different from telling them you’re working on their pronouns.
  • ask them to correct you when you misgender them, but don’t expect them to cuz they may or may not feel comfy doing so.
    • it might be better to just let them know that you’re cool with them correcting you and that you would value the help if they chose to do so.
    • but really, skip this one if you think there’s a chance the person might feel obligated to correct you.
  • if someone does correct you, don’t make a huge deal outta it.
    • don’t apologize profusely or go on about how haaaaaarrrrrDd it is for you.
    • thank them for helping you with their pronouns, correct yourself, and quickly move the fuck on. people who do this are the best and i fucking love them. <3
  • fucking practice! it’s fun and it’ll sort you out pretty quickly.
    • you can practice alone or with a partner.
    • tell your partner (or some imaginary person) about the person whose pronouns you’re practicing; it doesn’t matter what you say, as long as you use the person’s name and pronouns a lot.
    • at first, you may have to speak very slowly and use simple sentences. (ex. “andresa is an astronaut. plus, she like ravens.” etc.)
    • 1-5 minutes a day seems to be about all it takes.
    • lots of people in my life practice my pronouns like this and it fucking works.
  • correct yourself aloud every time you fuck up. don’t like, berate yourself or anything; just repeat what you said with the person’s correct pronouns. it’ll help you learn faster.
  • remember, this is your problem. make sure it stays that way. the person whose pronouns you’re having trouble with doesn’t need you to dump this on them.
  • also remember that the person probably notices what pronouns you apply to them even when you don’t notice. every time you don’t fuck up their pronouns, they notice. and they’re probably totes relieved.

however hard and shitty this is for you, you’re probably only dealing with this one person and their pronouns, but this person is probably dealing with everyone in their life. know what i mean? like, i deal with zillions of cats who have trouble with my pronouns, but the cats who complain about my pronouns only have to deal with one trans* person with “weird” pronouns. so really, the fuck are they complaining about?

thanks for reading! totes check out related writing on this topic. i’m actually writing this at my internet-free home, so i can’t just check online for you and post some links (i will if i remember when i post this), but try googling “what to do when you misgender someone,” “how to learn somebody’s pronouns,” etc. really, though, i’ll try to remember to find some related reading next time i’m somewhere with wi-fi.

and lemme know what you cats think about all this! i want your braiiiins—i mean your thoughts. cuz i’m not really a zombiiiiie.

or am i?!

your pronouns are hard

i sent this letter to my teachers last night:

hi, everyone!

it’s the start of a new semester and i’d like to get something important out of the way; my pronouns are “they/them/their.”  this means that instead of to referring to me with gendered pronouns (“she/her/hers”, “he/him/his”), i’d like you to refer to me with “they/them/their” (non-gendered pronouns).  this is because i’m a nonbinary trans* person; my gender is nonbinary.

you might already know what nonbinary gender is, but i want to make sure we share a basic understanding of it.  a nonbinary gender is a gender that falls outside the woman OR man gender binary our culture commonly recognizes.  a nonbinary person may be a man and a women, they may be neither a man nor a woman, they may experience different genders at different times, or they may not experience gender at all.

to be clear, i’m writing about gender/gender identity—not gender expression.  gender is your understanding of yourself as a woman/man/nonbinary person, gender identity is how you name that understanding (ex. saying “i’m a woman/man/nonbinary person”), and gender expression is how you communicate your understanding with nonverbal cues (clothing, mannerisms, etc.)  to reiterate, i’m writing about gender/gender identity.

the salient point is this: please don’t misgender me.  please do what you can to get my pronouns right (i’m asking for effort, NOT for perfection) and please don’t refer to me as “a young lady/man/etc.”

if you do misgender me, i’ll correct you quickly and politely.  please don’t make a big deal out of it and please don’t apologize profusely.  please correct yourself and move on; i don’t want to disrupt conversations or class time.  most people have a very difficult time getting my pronouns right and i don’t expect instant success.  effort and good intentions will be more than enough.

when i tell people my pronouns are non-gendered (“they/them/their”), many people assume i’m offended by gendered pronouns when applied to other people.  this is not the case.  trying to get someone’s pronouns right is a sign of basic respect; it would be very rude of me to ask you to disrespect other people’s (gendered) pronouns.  feel free to apply gendered pronouns to other people.  just don’t apply them to me; they’re incorrect because i’m not a “she” or a “he”.

i know my personal pronouns and my gender may never come up in class, but i wanted to get this out of the way just in case.  thank you for reading my letter.  if you have any questions or concerns, we can discuss them via email, over the phone, or in person.  see you in class!


mx. punk

*   *   *

and now i’m all freaked out and stuff.  i was so fucking nervous while writing the letter, i actually had trouble typing.  and my partner had to help me click “send” rather than “delete.”

only one teacher has replied so far; they said they’d do their best ‘n stuff– so that’s good.  i’m still freaking out, though.

what would you think if you got a letter like this?  any suggestions for how you’d change it?  suggestions would help; i’ll have to send this to other people in the future and i want to make it better, if possible.  thanks, peoples.

i need to go hug my sick tummy, now.