Six ways we can all become a better ally to our gender non-conforming siblings.
In 2018, I happened upon this Tweet during Trans Awareness week and it got me thinking…
“Also on twitter, stop assuming people’s pronouns based on their profile pic and your binary stereotypes.
“Read their profile. Check their pronouns. Don’t assume.
“And while you’re there, put your own pronouns in your profile.
“Normalise that shit ✨#TransAwarenessWeek
— Thal (@thalestral) November 12, 2018
Let me tell you about my own gender expression before we go on. I don’t think of myself as a “man” because I don’t really fit into what society expects of men. When I was a child all I wanted to do was be called a girl, wear high heels, my mum’s dresses and sing Petula Clark’s ‘Downtown’ on repeat.
I was a Grade A queer/trans kid. As an adult I couldn’t admit that to anyone outside my immediate family. I was so shamed by this behaviour – and bullied mercilessly at school when I chose to wear the white, patterned “girls'” socks instead of the regulation grey socks for boys.
Nowadays, I dress in typically masculine clothes, I have a boyfriend, I have short hair and people assume that I’m a man and a gay one at that. I respec the privileges that, for the most part, that assumed identity affords me. But, it never really feels right when someone refers to me in that way.
That said, I don’t mind if people use the pronouns him/his or he when they refer to me.
Although it does jar me if someone calls me a man.
I also don’t mind it if I’m referred to with female pronouns.
I’m pretty relaxed about the pronouns that are used to describe me.
But for some, words really matter. So here’s some advice to help us all become better allies to our non-binary, gender non-conforming siblings.
Open your ears and mind
It seems that we’ve all got our lives set to transmit only. We need more receiving in our lives. So when someone is telling you something about them, listen.
Leave your assumptions at the door
Someone once wisely told me, “Assumptions are the mother of all fuck-ups” – and they were completely right. How often have you assumed something about a situation only to find that nothing was as you imagined? Pretty often, right?
Your assumptions are based on your own life experience. It doesn’t take into account other people’s experience. So leave your assumptions at the door and again, open your mind.
If a person tells you what their preferred pronoun is, accept it don’t fight it. It’s what they’ve asked you to call them. The decision is effectively out of your hands. It’s the same as when someone tells you their name. You accept it and it becomes part of their identity. Well, pronouns are the same.
Accept that there are lots of different pronouns
Some non-binary, gender fluid and gender non-conforming folks use a number of different pronouns. Some popular ones are: Zim/Zer and Ze, they/them and theirs or even thon, which was actually added to the dictionary in 1964. They as a singular pronoun has been used for centuries.It’s not particularly new, it’s not trend based, it’s just getting a lot of media attention at the moment.
Stop normalising gender norms
Blue for boys, Pink for girls… gender stereotyping is all so the 1950s and really doesn’t work for today’s society. No one likes living in a predefined box and we don’t live in a black and white world. There’s a whole rainbow out there.
Gender norms and stereotypes, when adhered to, just keeps society attached to a patriarchal system that’s almost impossible to climb and doesn’t work for all of us, particularly LGBT+ people. So lets bin it shall we?
Write your own pronouns
Normalise the conversation surrounding pronouns. Write your preferred pronouns in your social media profiles. As @thalestral says on Twitter, “normalise that shit”.
Also on twitter, stop assuming people’s pronouns based on their profile pic and your binary stereotypes.
Read their profile. Check their pronouns. Don’t assume.
And while you’re there, put your own pronouns in your profile.
Normalise that shit ✨#TransAwarenessWeek
— Thal (@thalestral) November 12, 2018
The editor and chief of THEGAYUK.