First, some definitions that may help as you read my latest.
“Genderqueer, also known as non-binary, is a catch-all category for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine—identities which are outside the gender binary and cisnormativity. Genderqueer people may express a combination of masculinity and femininity, or neither, in their gender expression.” (Wikipedia)
Cisgender: “denotes or relates to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex.” This is also known as binary. (Google)
Genderqueer -National Center for Transgender Equality explains as a “term used by some individuals who identify as neither entirely male nor entirely female.
"If you’re not sure what pronouns someone uses, ask. Different non-binary people may use different pronouns. Many non-binary people use “they” while others use “he” or “she,” and still others use other pronouns. Asking whether someone should be referred to as “he,” “she,” “they,” or another pronoun may feel awkward at first, but is one of the simplest and most important ways to show respect for someone’s identity." (www.transequality.org)
Recently, I met a married, straight mother of an adult child. Her adult child is an out lesbian in her twenties. She has a partner and is employed.
Her child has always been identifiable to her in appearance as female since her birth. Or maybe I should say, easily defined in her eyes as her female daughter.
Her daughter now prefers more masculine clothing, and has shorn her hair. The mother barely recognized <whom she identifies> as her own daughter in a photograph she saw online. The daughter no longer identifies herself as a she. See that, I wrote herself, that is incorrect as the daughter is now they-self. Confusing? Yeah, a bit.
She/hers/her. He/him/his. They/them/theirs. These are a common form of pronoun language. But some pronouns are expanding like a dark hole depending on who one is speaking of or to: They, Them, Their, in particular.
For many years now there has been a movement toward ‘gender neutral’ pronouns when writing. That is a good thing, a non-sexist effort for inclusion. But now, gender neutral pronouns are woven in to the human matrix, and beyond words on paper. The word they no longer identifies as male or female, but as a new embraceable word of gender identity in a human that does not want to be known as he or she.
The mother's daughter, born female according to records, no longer wishes to identify as cisgender or binary. No longer a she, but a 'they.' A non-binary.
Her mother was a bit perplexed, as even I am at the new way we need to identify individuals without causing insult or disrespect. But the mother is intelligent, sensitive and is relearning the latest approach to how her daughter and her daughter's friends want to be identified. The mother, above all else, wants to respect her daughter's wishes on what she now defines as self. At the same time, the mother does not want to be walking on eggshells if she speaks the wrong pronoun.
I personally would be tearing my hair out. I would not have the patience to deal with all the he, she, they, them, except to ask what is a person's name, period. All the pronoun identities seem to be rather fluid and constantly changing as the person (we can still call them person, right?) matures and experiences life.
The mother sometimes unknowingly slips with the wrong gender-specific word when speaking to her daughter and discussing her daughter’s friends. She does not want to insult or disrespect anyone, and has even read up on this naming. But in all fairness, it can be complicated and almost an odd thing to have to ask: Are you a he, she, they, gender-queer, gay, and all the other possible ways one can define themselves. Should we have to? Has political correctness gone off the deep end?
Many non-binary people these days do not want to use the pronouns of he or she to define who they are in the public’s eye. They prefer ‘they.’ I know a young straight male who likes girls, was born with all the cisgender traits of a male, not gay, but does not want to be called he. Why? He cannot clearly and with certainty explain why, is it a fad as well for the young? He is fourteen. Is he hiding some other set of feelings he has yet to own? Is he gay, afterall, and too shy to say so? Time and experience will tell. How will he define 'they' self when he hits 20 or 30 years old?
I prefer: Hi, my name is Fran. If anyone spends some time with me in conversation they will learn and see and hopefully accept ‘Fran.’ It is that simple for me - And I have never felt quite her or him. If I had been born in the 90’s I think it would be more complicated to have to bare-bone define every aspect of my inner thoughts in pronouns, as I mature and change.
When I was born, my documents from the hospital stated simply: Female. I had all the right body parts – Female genitalia. I felt my fondness for females over males at an early age. By my teen years, when I had control over what type or style of clothes I wanted to wear, I wanted to dress more masculine. I despised skirts, frilly blouse, nylons, skimpy shoes, frilly bras and underwear, negligee type sleeping wear, dresses or hairstyles that needed rollers, and hairspray. I dressed more masculine and it felt more normal for myself. There was not a name given to it back then, except a negative use of the word queer. Today, that word is embraced. I still dislike it, but understand how it has evolved in some minds, not all. I see these present pronouns as fluid in use, as we age. I was gay, but not out as a teen. Experiences made me Fran - Not a gender label of he, she, or they - Just Fran. Today, if I had to label Fran, I guess I would be non-binary.
I see this present pronoun use as another fluid moment in language and moreso in personal growth within society. Language has taken on the deeper meaning of life in pronouns. I remember reading books in the 50's and 60's that always used 'he and him' in general essays. It was sexist. Rarely did I see 'her and she' in use in general essays. Gender-neutral ideas brought forth using 'he or she' in essays, and then eventually the use of 'they or their.' Gender-neutral has leaped off the printed page if that makes it easier to grasp. It has become a deep mind-set for some in the newer generations.
I do wish all well, no matter how you need to define self. We can all fit in to this sphere together. One's life is yours, however you want to define yourself. He, she, they, or any new future pronouns are for you alone to choose. Just be patient with the rest of society. Seek respect above all else. You alone, hold the key to your life. A pronoun on its own does not define who you are as a person or who you will eventually become. In the end, most people will not care about your chosen pronoun, but about your personality traits as a he, she or they.