Enough with the Pronouns
Pronoun signaling, however well intended, is hurtful, not kind.
Think you are being kind by asking someone to state their pronouns? To require them on name badges? By advertising your pronouns on your email signature and linkedin profile? Or even worse, by conducting pronoun circles on the first day of school?
In actuality, this pronoun stuff, which may have started out as silly, but somewhat harmless virtue-signaling, has morphed into something insidiously harmful, hurtful, and confusing to kids, young people, transsexuals, detransitioned women and men who may have developed secondary sex characteristics of the opposite sex, and people that do not fit your gender-conforming stereotypes.
For many of those you *think* you are helping, the pronoun pronouncements are a source of dread and anguish, not joy and inclusion. For those truly suffering, you are actually being the opposite of kind.
It’s time to remove this toxic feature of our modern culture, rather than to double-down on making pronoun signaling mandatory,
Let me tell you how pronoun signaling and pronoun requesting looks from a gender-confused, detransitioner, or trans-identified person’s perspective:
You don’t think they pass as their identified gender
You don’t think they register as their actual sex
You don’t think they act or dress stereotypically masculine or feminine enough to rate being seen as their birth sex
Good job! You just made everyone really in crisis, in real distress, feel terrible. The only people you pleased were trans-activists and narcissistic attention seekers that need to force bystanders to participate in their luxury pronouns (or perhaps titles is more accurate?) to feel good about themselves and validated (or maybe even to publicly indulge in a fetish).
Overheard recently at a high school by one of our parents: two boys asked a third boy what his pronouns were. Why? Because he was wearing bright clothes, so they thought he might identify as a girl, and they were scared of getting his pronouns wrong. What?!?!
Seriously, this is where we are with this collective obsession with pronouns. A complete regression to outdated, sexist, gender stereotypes that apply to basically no one in our modern society. Was it “kind” to ask this boy his pronouns (they were he/him by the way), or was it cruel? Was he not “boy enough” to avoid the dreaded pronoun question? Is this just the regressive, modern, mean-kid equivalent of saying, “haha, look at your outfit, what are you, a girl?” Will this boy now question his identity because his peers don’t perceive him as matching his natural body? Was it right to make other kids afraid of “misgendering” him because of his creative fashion sense?
Now, trans activists will say - YES! This is exactly why we must make EVERYONE advertise their pronouns — so no one will feel bad! If everyone is doing it, we won’t be targeting a few gender stereotype non-conforming people with our attempts to label them.
Really? We should all do this, why, exactly? Instead how about this alternate proposal: We go back to the way it was forever before that, and NO ONE advertises their pronouns. Crazy simple solution, right? But, it just might work!
If someone *really* fears misgendering they are, of course, very welcome to advertise their custom pronouns, just like anyone always could — and whoever wants to be kind or show how accepting and affirming they are can choose to use them. However, these individuals should keep in mind (and sorry if this is a newsflash to the designer pronoun users) that no matter how much you try, people will still classify you by your biology automatically in their heads and there’s nothing you can do to stop them. Because pronouns are a feature of language the speaker uses to classify things for practical communication purposes - they have nothing to do with the listener or the subject, and they are certainly not in the subject’s control, nor should they be.
There are no thought police that can see into people’s brains, not yet at least. So, if you are a guy who looks like a guy and likes to go by she/her, no amount of you telling your audience how you want to be seen will change how they think of you inside their brains, regardless of the pronouns they use for you to make you feel validated. You can say you are a non-binary “they”, but the speaker will still actually know in their brain if you are male or female. If this surprises, shocks or offends you, too bad — it’s a fact.
If we stop with the pronouns we will: a) stop looking like privileged idiots that have nothing better to do b) avoid stereotyping and confusing impressionable kids and young people c) avoid embarrassing transsexuals that “pass” and are just looking to move about in their lives unmolested, d) stop hurting detransitioners that wish to return to living as their biological sex despite irreversible changes to their bodies.
This is all a much better outcome than the alternative—doubling down on pronoun signaling, which serves to make almost everyone feel bad, distressed, angry, or confused, all to preserve the possibility that *maybe* there’s a person you might interact with who really needs you to get their designer pronouns correct on the first try without them saying anything to you about it, or you will literally be killing them. Is this the person that you are so anxious to be kind to that it’s worth upsetting all the rest?
As it is now, kids are forced to defend their boy or girl status with pronoun declarations at summer camps, and on the first day of college. This is causing stress and pain for kids and parents, and is an unwelcome distraction from maturing, learning, and having fun.
People misspeak all the time. And adults don’t get offended or feel threatened or abused by so-called misgendering. People make assumptions based on their innate perceptions of the world automatically. Women with low voices are called “he” over the phone all the time. Detransitioned women are perceived as trans women (males that are trans-identified). Again, we can’t control how people see us - we can only control how we perceive ourselves. So, a simple correction is all that’s required. No big deal. And that’s what most people do. Handle it on an individual basis and move on, rather than treat misperceptions as life-threatening misgendering incidents that sends us into a spirals of depression. Where is this going next, are we all supposed to answer the phone, Hi, it’s Bobbi and I’m she/her, don’t let my husky alto voice fool you? Continue to ask little boys playing with dolls for their pronouns, or college girls without makeup if they would rather be called he?
This sort of behavior is not what I would call “kind”.