Gender Spectrum: Why Pronouns are Important

Gender Spectrum: Why Pronouns are Important

You wouldn't like to be called the wrong pronouns.

Picture this: you’re walking down the street, your name is Bob and you are firm in belief that you are a male. Suddenly, you bump into a coworker with their friend. When you are introduced, their friend says ‘oh this is BARB, the woman you always tell me about and I finally get to meet HER.’ 

How would you react? How would you feel? What would you be thinking? Why?

It's not like asking to be referred to as an PNG file...

To the conforming binary side of our society, the only options are her she him he for addressing individuals. Their socialisation had this ingrained meaning of gender saturated throughout. 

There are even those who try to be clever and cry “THEY IS INCORRECT GRAMMAR”. Fear not, these foul demons are wrong, indeed. For the true news is that ‘they’ as a pronoun for singluar use has been coined since the 1800s. Primarly to referece unknown indivudals. ‘Someone has left their umbrella. They will get wet’. 

As of 2019, most big style guides—including the Associated Press, the Chicago Manual of Style, the MLA style manual, and the APA style manual—accept the usage of the singular they.

 

 

The earliest known attempt to create gender-neutral pronouns dates back to 1792, when Scottish economist James Anderson advocated for an indeterminate pronoun “ou”

Barron, Dennis. “The Words that Failed: A chronology of early nonbinary pronouns”Illinois Department of English. University of Illinois

Merriam-Webster even designated the singular “they” as their 2019 Word of the Year and introduced the gender-neutral honorific Mx. to their unabridged dictionary, forever ending the question of what to call someone whose gender is nonbinary (i.e., not male or female).

Gender identity is non-negotiable. It is not a label others put upon you, it is one you choose for yourself. 

Some important gender terms

Gender

A set of cultural identities, expressions, and roles—traditionally categorized as feminine or masculine—that are assigned to people based on the interpretation of their bodies, previously their sexual and reproductive anatomy. Gender is a social construction and people can reject or modify the assignments.

Sex

A biological term for either of the two main categories (male and female) and minor categories (intersex) into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions. As this is not a social construct and based on scientific anatomy, these assignments can not be modified - only altered through external surgery to an extent.

Binary

Binary means two. Gender binary is the socially constructed system of viewing gender as male or female, in which no other possibilities for gender are believed to exist. The gender binary does not take into account the diversity of gender identities and gender expressions among all people, and is oppressive to anyone who does not conform to dominant societal gender norms.

Non Binary

Non binary means more than two. It is an adjective describing a person who identifies as neither male nor female, both male and female or otherwise. Also known as Gender Queer, Gender Fluid or Androgynous. This is not the same as being intersex as it is not relevant to biological sex and reproduction. (Most intersex people identify as male or female).

Genders

  • Agender
  • Androgyne
  • Androgynous
  • Bigender
  • FTM
  • Gender Fluid
  • Gender Nonconforming
  • Gender Questioning
  • Gender Variant
  • Cis person
  • Cisgender
  • Cis Female
  • Cis Male
  • Cis Man
  • Cis Woman
  • Cisgender Female
  • Cisgender Male
  • Cisgender Man
  • Cisgender Woman
  • Genderqueer
  • Intersex
  • Male to Female
  • Female to Male
  • MTF
  • Neither
  • Neutrois
  • Non-binary
  • Pangender
  • Two-Spirit
  • Transgender
  • Transexual
  • Transexual Man
  • Transexual Person
  • Transexual Woman
  • Transfeminine
  • Transgender Man
  • Transgender Woman
  • Transmasculine

Mental health

Having your identity disrespected by those around you might start as unpleasant, but over time it can build to become draining and truly damaging.  Having to endure disrespect and discrimination regularly can lead to significant health consequences over a person’s lifetime. 

When engaging with non binary people, it’s essential to use a person’s chosen pronouns even if this means apologising and correcting yourself when you slip up. Deliberately misusing pronouns is emotionally abusive. 

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