19 Comments

I use non conventional pronouns and would be happy to discuss my side of this with you. :)

btw - I found you through JrEg and am an amab trans girl exiled from evangelical communities.

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I have two responses to this:

1) I'm a big fan of simplicity and symmetry. There's a beauty to a binary humanity that is backed up by science and religion. It's one of the few places we see all the "experts" agreeing. Oh sure, you can say there are exceptional cases where the number of chromosomes is different than the norm, but these are rare exceptions.

2) I have enough issues with the dissociative disorders of other people than to try to coax my brain into somehow calling a square a circle. I just turned 60 and despite my looking a lot like a human with testicles, I am in fact an old dog and it is very hard to teach me new tricks.

3) Somewhere along the line we all started getting taught that classical scientific method is not to be trusted, proper grammar gets in the way of self expression, and math is just too difficult for regular folk. I blame John Dewey and his progeny.

4) I have a high tolerance for calling people what they want to be called as long as they don't mind me calling them what I want to call them, too. Seems only fair. And, yes, I know this is my fourth of two points. Which is kind of the point.

As for you, Aella, if you are like me (on the ASD spectrum) then perhaps you're exhausted by the fluidity of the definitions. Order is our friend. Fluidity has it's place (music, dancing, the rustling of dry leaves, the call of a Mourning Dove). But don't mess with the evidence of our senses.

NOTE: This is a comment representing a single point in time in my psyche. If you think I'm wrong, you may be right. Tomorrow. But today, we will have to agree to disagree.

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Dec 8, 2022·edited Dec 8, 2022

I completely understand the shoulder brain. I’m a trans man who went through a phase of thinking I was nonbinary a few years back and ended up with a lot of queer friends along the way and to be honest? Some queer people a real dicks, I had someone yell at me once for not using their pronouns when I didn’t even know them. Shoulder brain is completely normal, brains like to think in black and white and there’s no “fix” for it really, but I got somewhat used to they/them pronouns once I hung around with those people a lot. It’s kinda like seeing one thing but saying something else, and of course that would confuse your brain, but coming from a regular queer person who doesn’t have any preconceptions, as long as your trying we’re not going to care too much, of course it sucks for us a bit but it’s also not your fault. Just don’t misgender them on purpose and keep trying to get it right and that’s good enough

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This mirrors my experience. It took me years to start taking nonbinary people seriously because every one I met for a while seemed to expert me to know to use they/them, wouldn't tell me and seemed to use it as an excuse to be allowed to shout at somebody else.

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I feel like this is something you have to deal with yourself. Understanding that trans people are not just "man, now woman" or "woman, now man", and that nonbinary people exist beyond the binary you're used to - requires an understanding or at least acknowledgment of the structure of gender they are operating on. You seem like you're still operating on a binary term of gender. I encourage you to explore that topic more if you seriously want to "accept" nonbinary people, and not just pretend to.

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Uh, I'm fairly sure hundreds of thousands of people, if not many times more, share her feelings of a talking head shoulder-child. Chauvinism does not make such shoulder-children disappear. Sexual dimorphism, and the physiognomies that largely follow them, largely presents two conclusions for our lizard brains to come to about a given person. Gender, for our purposes, is performed, determined, and "declared" outside of the person's physiology. Declaring a gender, categorically separate from sexual dimorphic set, does not change the physiological sex of the declarer and how other people's chemical signals respond and "report" your sex.

It is dishonest, or perhaps willfully ignorant, to talk down to someone as though their experience is an outlier rather than the norm.

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May 15, 2023·edited May 15, 2023

It is silly. Gender norms are constantly changing. Instead of saying you don't feel like either gender as it's currently understood, then present as your sex and take a stand that being who you are despite being gender/sex X is perfectly fine, whether as a tomboy or an effeminate man or anything else.

That's how gender norms change, that's how we shake off the biased assumptions of the past. Be the change you want to see in the world.

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I would say that most of the time when this comes up is at introductions, often in a group, and I'm struggling to remember people's names, and what I would like to know about them is if they are open to dancing with me (which for me is independent of their gender identity). I do try and keep it straight, but it can be a struggle, and represents another pitfall, sort of like misremembering their name. I in a weird way is comes off a bit like Mr. Ms. Doctor, Professor etc. Important information at some point in a relationship maybe, but right at first meeting? Perhaps I also generally enjoy some mystery and ambiguity. I happen to be Cis, married, and monogamous (30 years so far) but that is information that I revel over the course of time as I get to know someone.

I'm also constantly struck by the odd nature of the statement " I use X/Y pronouns" when in fact we all never use pronouns to speak about ourselves, and we don't use pronouns when speaking directly to a person. A pronoun is used when we talk to a third person about someone else. The honest statement should be "I would like you to use X/Y pronouns when talking about me". Perhaps better would be "I identify as non-binary" etc. I sort of get that I'm clueless about the acceptance signaling aspects, but the reality is that for me the gender identity is only one of many dimensions of our humanity, and really I care more to know if you are kind, honest, generous, thoughtful and interesting. Physical attractiveness is also an important element of being interesting, but it too doesn't hinge on what pronouns you prefer to use, or why.

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These comments make me sad as it seems almost nobody really got the point of this very honest post.

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This is what I believe about this.

We have strongly internalized ideas about gender. It's harder for someone who fits their gender to question some aspects of it. For those of us who have lived a whole life of being misread, misinterpreted because of the gender people are used to percieving in us, having people give a shot to percieve more of our spectrum, is liberating.

So it might look like just asking to use certain pronouns, but for me at least, it's also asking you to try to quit percieving me in an assigned gender that doesn't fit who I am, and also asking you to open up to how I percieve myself so I can feel more free and comfortable of being myself without constantly being misread.

When you've never felt quite like a girl, and everyone treats you like a girl and reads you like a girl, it can be very constraining.

So I would summarize this in; I dont expect it to be super easy and quick for you, but I'm asking you to try to open up your perception to another way of being that describes me better

Kinda like when meeting someone from a different culture who doesn't want to be read in terms of your culture. Or someone racialized who is asking you to view them away from the stereotypes that are usually assigned (I'm more than my race).

Sure takes a hell lot of effort, but it's just the effort that counts. Hope this helps.

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This is what I believe about this.

We have strongly internalized ideas about gender. It's harder for someone who fits their gender to question some aspects of it. For those of us who have lived a whole life of being misread, misinterpreted because of the gender people are used to percieving in us, having people give a shot to percieve more of our spectrum, is liberating.

So it might look like just asking to use certain pronouns, but for me at least, it's also asking you to try to quit percieving me in an assigned gender that doesn't fit who I am, and also asking you to open up to how I percieve myself so I can feel more free and comfortable of being myself without constantly being misread.

When you've never felt quite like a girl, and everyone treats you like a girl and reads you like a girl, it can be very constraining.

So I would summarize this in; I dont expect it to be super easy and quick for you, but I'm asking you to try to open up your perception to another way of being that describes me better

Kinda like when meeting someone from a different culture who doesn't want to be read in terms of your culture. Or someone racialized who is asking you to view them away from the stereotypes that are usually assigned (I'm more than my race).

Sure takes a hell lot of effort, but it's just the effort that counts. Hope this helps.

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I agree 100%. I also like to do things to make people feel happy. I don’t like to hurt or offend people. I am a very empathetic person. With that said, I don’t like being obligated to play a game of pretend. I resent being guilted and shamed into using preferred pronouns. At the same time, I do my best to play the game, but sometimes my shoulder brain causes me to make mistakes. I was at a bar a few days ago, and the bartender was AMAB trans woman who was trying to pass as a woman, but wasn’t pulling it off very well. When the bartender asked me a question, I unintentionally responded “yes sir”. It was totally spur of the moment. It just came out, and I immediately felt mortified. To her credit, the bartender didn’t even blink. She didn’t confront me about it, and just took it it in stride. I didn’t know the appropriate way to handle my mistake. Should I have apologized? Should I have done what I did which was to just move on and acte like it never happened?

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For what it's worth, if you're looking for a decent baseline approach, I think the most commonly-preferred response to accidentally misgendering someone is a quick self-correction, apology, and then moving on. Kind of similar to if you got someone's name wrong who you just met? Doesn't have to be a big deal, everyone makes mistakes when trying to cache information about new people, but still pretty rude to just pretend you didn't mess up.

The template as applied to your encounter would look something like saying "Yes sir. I mean-- ma'am, sorry" and then move on. Don't ignore it but make a huge fuss about it either. Obviously everyone's different, but I think that's probably the default that ruffles the fewest feathers/hurts the fewest feelings (someone appearing to take it in stride is not a very good indicator of whether or not they found it particularly hurtful, IME)

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I feel like this may be due to a strong western cultural association of gender with sex which has not been consistent across time or culture. Anyway just a quick thought

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May 15, 2023·edited May 15, 2023

It blows my mind that people can say, with a straight face, that associating sex and gender is some kind of Western thing.

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Sorry I should be more specific, it seems to be more northern european. I can fairly easily name a large number of third gender or other genders that have entirely different relationships to sex across the rest of the world.

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That's not really the implication of what you wrote though. There is no culture I am aware of that did not have men associated with the male sex, and women associated with the female sex. That seems fairly consistent over time, which is contrary to the implication of what you wrote. This "default mode" that Aella is describing is very firmly entrenched and not at all cultural. Whether these cultures sometimes had additional genders for exceptional situations seems besides the point, and does not speak to how easily they handled such situations and whether they required a situation as complex as "preferred pronouns".

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for these kinds of cases of people seeming not to try to ~pass particularly particularly well (both binary and nonbinary) I tend to think of using their preferred pronouns as a claim/sympathy about what sort of person they ought to be as much as who they are now.

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Maybe you're projecting your own identity insecurity. Are you not performing femininity as part of your profession and life? What if you want short hair and you're tired of putting on makeup, are you less feminine? Aren't you pretending when you think you know somebody better than they do?

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