Welcome back! Last week, we talked about Prostate health. If you missed that blog and would like to catch up, click HERE.
This week’s blog is by special request. I had a doctor ask me to write on it, then I had a citizen ask me to write on it, then I ran it past the entire family and one family member said that they would like to read more on the topic, so here we are.
More likely than not, within the next several years, you will be put into a position (if you haven’t been already) of honoring someone’s pronouns. Now, historically, we’ve already been doing this. So let’s define what a pronoun is.
I need an example
Yes, we all do. So here’s what Webster has to say about pronouns: “
Definition of pronoun
1 plural pronouns: any of a small set of words (such as I, she, he, you, it, we, or they) in a language that are used as substitutes for nouns or noun phrases and whose referents are named or understood in the context
2 pronouns plural: the third person personal pronouns (such as he/him, she/her, and they/them) that a person goes by i.e. “I’m Jo, my pronouns are she/her.” “I’m Jade, my pronouns are they/them.”… many people with nonbinary genders use “they” and “their” pronouns, although language and gender expression vary widely.— Lucy Brisbane
Do I have a pronoun preference?
Yes. We all do. Mine are she/her. Example: “Linda is a blogger. SHE works with her husband, David. HE is the executive director of a nonprofit foundation”. Some people prefer to have a pronoun that may not match (in some minds) their gender identity, although this is not always the case.
What does that mean?
That means that if I, Linda, tell you that I identify as a male, not a female, then I would want you to use the same pronouns as my husband, which is “He/Him”. This shouldn’t be an issue for folks, since I’ve been called a guy for as long as I can remember, as have most people who identify as female.
Every single time we go out to eat, we are met with “Are you guys ready to order?” or “How are you guys today?”. We, as a society, already do this, so if someone requests it, then it shouldn’t be a big deal.
How am I supposed to know someone’s pronouns?
It will come up, eventually, if they trust you enough to tell you. We do not want to assume people’s gender identity based on expression (typically shown through clothing, hairstyle, mannerisms, etc.) By providing an opportunity for people to share their pronouns, you’re showing that you’re not assuming that their gender identity is based on their appearance.
I don’t understand why they don’t just match someone’s gender.
A person’s pronouns are not just preferred; they’re the pronouns that must be used. Pronouns do not always reflect or indicate someone’s gender. The great thing is that we don’t have to understand it. We just need to know what their pronouns are and use them.
Put the shoe on the other foot for reference.
Think about how you would feel if someone disregarded your pronoun and called you “she” when you preferred “him”. Would you be ok with that? Pronouns are ours to decide, not society’s decision, not religion’s decision, and not your friend, doctor, or parent’s decision. It is only the decision of the person requesting the pronoun.
America is the land of the free. We get choices. All of us.
Think about how it would make you feel if my religious beliefs were imposed on you, and you had to now go by a completely different pronoun, just because I said so. This is the wonderful thing about living in America. We are free to be who we are, without interference or fear of harm.
My neighbor has pronouns I just don’t understand.
What if your neighbor tells you that their pronouns are “they/them/theirs”? I know, confusing, right? I know someone with these pronouns. Practice, practice, practice is the best advice I can give you. David and I walked around the house using these pronouns with each other to get in the groove.
Many people don’t identify with any gender. They/them/theirs feels “right” to them. We’ve used this pronoun for hundreds of years. “They went to the store”, to indicate two or more people went to the store. It’s the same, only for one person. Instead of “Linda went to the store” or “She went to the store”, you would simply say, “They went to the store”. Wherever you would use their name or other pronouns, insert They/Them/Theirs, instead. Trust me. Practice.
I’m too old for this. I don’t get it and I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake.
OK, let’s unpack this line of thinking, shall we? Do you have dementia or some other condition that limits your memory? If so, tell the person that. Tell them you will try, but please understand that you may not get it right.
For all the rest of us, I call “not true”. If you are introduced to someone and you can remember their name, then you can remember a pronoun. If you are very used to calling someone “she” and now they want to be called “they”, then it will just take time, and believe me, folks know this. They understand. You aren’t dealing with monsters, these are human beings with empathy and compassion.
What’s the difference between a mistake and a misgender?
A mistake is an honest “oops”. If you make a mistake, try not to apologize. Just correct yourself. Saying, “I’m sorry” puts them in a position of forgiving you and that’s exhausting. Just correct it at the moment and finish your point. “He went to the store…I mean SHE went to the store and should be back shortly”. Good enough. Let it go.
A misgender is a little more complicated. Misgenders happen when, for example, you know your neighbor goes by they/them, but you purposely use she/her, just because you don’t “agree with the lifestyle”. Again. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you be ok if the reverse were true?
What is Doxxing?
Doxxing is very dangerous. Doxxing is when you know that the person in question hasn’t made their pronouns known to the world, and you tell people without permission, or, in the opposite sense, someone uses the pronouns he/him, and you tell the world, “well, you know that’s really a girl, right?”.
People have died after being doxxed. They have been murdered or completed suicide due to the reaction of peers.
This also goes for public officials, firemen, police, etc. They can be doxxed (their personal information such as phone numbers and addresses leaked to the public) which ends in someone being seriously hurt or worse.
IT IS NEVER OKAY TO DOX ANYONE. I DON’T CARE WHAT YOUR REASON IS, YOU ARE WRONG IF YOU DOX SOMEONE. Doxxing shows malicious and evil intent.
I know there will be some who will want to debate the validity of pronouns. If your goal in life is to be kind, then please consider using a pronoun that someone has trusted you with. If your goal is to be supportive, you can even post your own pronouns after your name in your emails, or on social media.
Whatever you think, thank you for getting this far in the blog. I know this can be a tough subject matter for some, and scary for others, but trust me when I tell you that it’s worth knowing and working on. People matter. Kindness matters. Words matter. In America, we don’t have to look like each other, think like each other, or believe like each other in order to respect each other.
Be respectful, if you can’t be anything else.
As always, this blog is not a replacement for sound medical advice. I am not a doctor. Please make an appointment to see your healthcare provider and put a good plan in place that works for you and the needs of your body.
That’s all I have for you this week, dear reader. I’ll see you back here next Wednesday to share another cup of coffee. Until then, be good to yourself and each other.
Mind, Body, Spirit…Osteopathic Doctors treat the whole person, not just the ailment. Is your PCP a DO? Would you like to learn more about Osteopathic Physicians? Click HERE!
Linda- This is an incredible primer on pronouns. Thank you!
I appreciate the explanations, although I know would be slow to remember to use the appropriate applications of the information. Very much enjoyed your blog.
Thank you for clarifying this topic. Practicing respect and support for our fellow creatures can bring us together at a time we’re there is so much division.