It literally takes zero effort to call someone by their preferred pronouns.
I know some people claim it’s “so hard” to get the pronouns right, but I’m going to give you a few tips on how to act like a decent human being. Cool?
OK – step one: when you meet someone, ask their name, and then call them by that name.
I know this may sound like common sense, but I see many people saying, “Oh, but what’s your birth name?” or, “That’s not their real name.” I care so little for these statements. You don’t get to decide what another person goes by. It has absolutely nothing to do with you. Mind your business. If I want to be called “Big Papa,” then that’s what I expect to be called.
Also, if your friend is transitioning and you refuse to call them by their preferred name because it’s “just not right,” you are the worst kind of person. It takes a lot of courage to come out and say you want to be called by a different name because you identify with it. Support your friend’s happiness, not your own comfort.
Step two: If a person wants to be called by specific pronouns, call them by those pronouns. This is another very simple thing that I see people ignoring.
I don’t care if it “feels wrong” or “makes you uncomfortable.”
If you absolutely can’t bring yourself to call someone the right pronouns and you keep misgendering them, I have a simple solution.
Cut your tongue out. Problem solved.
And honestly, I don’t care if you “don’t believe in it” or whatever, because the truth is – trans people exist. They are not some cryptid like the Loch Ness monster or big foot, you don’t get to not believe in them. They’re here, they’re a part of the campus community, and they deserve basic respect.
That’s not an opinion. It’s mandatory.
Because our campus community shouldn’t put up with the heteronormative bullsh** hierarchy that some people think should be established.
I get it though, sometimes when a lifelong friend becomes who they truly are and changes their pronouns, you can get caught up saying the old ones out of habit.
Let me tell you, this is to be expected, and I’m sure your friend will be understanding. The best thing to do is change your wording and quickly move past it. Don’t linger on the “OMG, so so sorry it’s just this is new and I’m confused and….” Just say a quick “She – my bad – HE” and move on.
Just make a conscious effort to rename that person in your brain because you want to be supportive of your friends, and you want to make them feel comfortable in their skin.
The last thing I’m going to talk about here is people who don’t identify with gendered pronouns, and feel more like themselves being referred to in gender-neutral terms.
This is not as complicated as people make it out to be. It’s not more challenging than calling someone by any other name – the only “difficult” part about it is that bigoted humans seem to believe that nothing can exist if they don’t explicitly approve of it.
Guess what – that’s not how any of this works.
People who like to be referred to with they/them pronouns are sometimes called agender or gender nonconforming. This simply means that they don’t feel like they fit into either the male or female gender category and fall somewhere either in the middle or outside of it. It’s not a hard concept.
If you’re going to come at me with the “It’s not correct grammar” argument then you can bippity-boppity-back the hell out of my face because the English language is a bunch of garbage that doesn’t make sense anyways.
Also, yesterday I heard you call espresso “expresso”- like a train of coffee, and you just referred to a group of humans as “all these transgendereds.” So, like … pick a new battle.
Just go out there, be a decent person, respect people, and support trans kids.
[Editor’s note: Due to the unfortunate stigma surrounding women discussing sex, the author of this column has requested to use the pseudonym “Kay Ann.”]