Insight: Why Pronouns?

Shoji here with another blog post. Wanted to start the Insight series which will be talking about LGBT topics that are important to the transgender and nonbinary communities.

Insight: Why Pronouns?

For a transgender person who is struggling with their identity or has solidified who they are in mind and body, or even if they are still experimenting, pronouns can have a profound affect on how they are feeling and perception by others and of themselves. When someone is transgender their birth gender does not connect with what gender they are in mind. Gender is not sexuality at all, they are totally different. Gender identity can be questioned at a young age or people can go through the majority of their life and start questioning their gender much later. When it comes down to it, you need to feel comfortable in your skin.

Pronouns are helpful because they solidify the gender the person wants to be and is if they are in transition. It is the same almost as using the transgender person’s chosen name. Sometimes called “dead naming” when people use the transgender person’s old name or the name given to them by their parents, this name can cause strong dysphoria and feelings of depression that can even lead to suicide if it is pervasive and used to hurt the person. Sometimes it is hard for those around the transgender person to use the new name but with time and hopefully respecting the transgender person’s wishes the new name will become habit and everyone can get along. That sounds easy but sometimes there is resistance on friends or parents part to use the new name.

Pronouns can be the same as well. Some transgender people are wary to go out in public because they “do not pass” or are early in their transition. Using the proper name and pronouns can help in these situations as they affirm the transgender person’s identity. The binary male and female pronouns are:

  • He/Him
  • She/Her

For nonbinary people pronouns are also important and should be the generic and non binary ones associated not with male and female. Some of these pronouns are:

  • They
  • Ne/nem/nir
  • Ze/Hir/hirs
  • Ze/Zir/zirs
  • Xe/xem/xyr

Using nonbinary pronouns may be a little bit more difficult for some people because they are “new” terms but it is just as important to use the nonbinary person’s pronouns as you would anyone else.

Pronouns like names affirm and give us a sense of being who we are. It is important to use someones name correctly and pronounce it right.

A Little About Me: Shoji

I know that when I was first coming out as transgender that I used a specific nickname in college that was adopted by everyone around me and years later my college friends still call me that nickname. The nickname was something that validated my identity and made me feel better about myself even when I was struggling with my own dysphoria. Because my friends used it readily it made for one less thing I had to worry about as I started to think about transitioning. In college there was no real “transition” that could happen but I threw myself into gay culture as something that I glommed onto and learned and understood. I always felt like a gay man and I had boyfriends to prove it. I reveled in gay culture and everyone called me by my nickname so it was easy for me to assimilate quickly into a community that accepted me.

Later when my sexuality came in question I dated a few girls which turned out to not be right for me. That lasted about a year and there was one very femme girl and two transgender males who were in transition. You could say I am bisexual based on my experiences but in the end I think it comes down to now that I am asexual and not looking for sex. Sure, I still look at men, so I guess I am still gay. I had to go through my own realization to find that out.

Why do I mention all that, because if people had not used my chosen name at the time, my nickname while all this self discovery was going on in college I think I may not have gotten out of college without being depressed. The name was important for me to try to accept myself. The pronouns were also something that happened at the time but there was less importance to me at least on that. People just called me by my chosen name and that made all the difference.

Wrapping Up Pronouns

Pronouns matter because they also validate a person. They go along with the name. I know that at times I would cringe if someone used the wrong pronouns with me. It feels like you are being stabbed in the heart when you hear your dead name or incorrect pronouns. They are so important and it is best that those around the nonbinary person or transgender person strive to get it right. Sure it may take time but it is very important and validating to the person to use the pronouns and name that match who they genuinely are. Transgender and nobinary people are just the same as straight people, they just want to be free to be themselves and be loved for who they are.