This article was published on January 2nd, 2020
What’s in a name? A word is, after all, just simply a word. Yet, the pronouns and names in which you use to address non-binary people are quite significant and carry a lot of power with them. For those of you not so familiar with acceptable label usage, here is a guide to Understanding pronouns for all people and why they are important.
In 2015 when the US got marriage equality through the Supreme Court that the fight for full queer justice and equality under the law was still a war that needed to be raged. With the 25th transgender person murdered this past week, a grim picture has been painted of just how oppressed the trans community remains today. This is the main reason why using proper pronouns is so important: transgender people are still openly attacked and oppressed in today’s society.
Our identities are so wrapped around the labels we give one another, that it can be truly denigrating and, frankly, devastating for a trans person to be misnomered. Our society has created so many word associations and stereotypes with what it means to be “female” or “male,” that it can be upsetting for even binary folks to be called as a sex they are “not”.
Think about the fluidity of pronouns. A guy can be referenced as “she” or “girl” socially, like many gays personally do with friends, but professionally and in family situations, the use of the word “he” in reference to gay men is really the only acceptable option, other than they. Isn’t it common to call out to animals whose sex you don’t initially know: “Come here, boy”? Mother Nature is female for some reason, while Father Time is given the male pronoun label. The point is, conservatives are super hyped up about using “the correct pronouns,” yet these misnomers are thrown around in multiple situations all the time. Why is there so much stress on forcing word labels on people?
Sometimes, it’s just not easy to tell the sex of someone. Instead of attaching the wrong title to that person, why don’t we ditch “he,” she,” “him,” and “her” altogether? Why do we have to differentiate between sexes when referring to people? “They” and “their” fit perfectly where the aforementioned labels were.
When in doubt, “they” it out. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “they” as follows:
They. pronoun. Used to refer to two or more people or things previously mentioned or easily identified, or used to refer to a person of unspecified gender.
They is a simple, easy way to refer to anyone: groups, single people, makes, females, gender fluid, transgender, etc. They is an acceptable pronoun for everyone in 2020.
If society continues to incorrectly label trans people, it demoralizes then and creates this “us” versus “them” that is just so unnecessary. We need to have our transgender brothers and sister’s backs in this fight.
The only constant in life is change. Make the change this year to have our trans community members included in the dialogue. Start using they and their. They’re just words.