Earlier today I send out a Tweet asking people to refer to me using “they” instead of “he”. It occurs to me that some people might want to know why. Specifically, why be called something that isn’t he and why they over some other word.
Heads up that I am going to try to keep the jargon to a minimum because by and large the words people use for this stuff is needlessly complicated. If you want fancy words then feel free to ask and we can talk.
I don’t like video games because I’m a male, nor do I like wearing flowy clothes because I am feminine. I don’t do or feel anything because of my gender and when people attribute my actions to being male it only serves to reinforce stereotypes. As someone who’s seen (and experienced) a lot of pain from stereotypes, I have quite the prejudice against them. While people referring to me as gender-neutral (by the way the fancy word for this is non-binary) isn’t going to stop people from stereotyping, at the very least someone might not know what to expect.
I have a lot of friends who feel very strongly about their gender. In order to respect them, I need to accept that there’s something more to someone’s gender than their parts and how they are treated. For me, I pretty much never feel male or female. This means, according to the definition of gender I subscribe to, that I am in fact neither. Frankly, I find that freeing.
Remember how I was talking about not liking when people stereotype me? Often when talking about someone you can refer to them as a “they” and people won’t notice. Heck, I just did and I’m pretty sure you knew what I meant. Since this is often the case, it allows people to refer to me in the way I like that doesn’t require a pause in a conversation in order to explain what the hell xir means.
Seriously, xir is only the beginning. Here’s a list of pronouns people have come up with. I use they for the following reasons:
1) As stated above, people generally know what to do with it.
2) It’s the most popular one, which means hopefully people won’t need to learn multiple sets.
3) It makes less of a statement than some of the others. (I’d still rather people not give a damn, and that doesn’t happen when you ask people to call you thon.)
Are there issues with they? Hell yeah. It’s usually used as plural which means people sometimes don’t know how to use it (“They is” or “They are”? (the answer is “They are” btw)). Moreover for the same reason many people have an aversion to it. While they say they has been used as a gender-neutral term for centuries, that isn’t exactly relevant. Still, it is true that most people are familiar with some degree of singular-they. More to the point, while it is jarring to hear or read lots of talk about someone who’s a they at first, most people in my experience get used to it pretty quickly. Finally, there’s the issue of a lack of alternative. While for a lot of people “they” implies plurality and it is strange to hear it explicitly refer to a single person, hearing “it” is at least as awkward (also, dehumanizing).
Anyway, I hope I’ve cleared up why I’m asking the WoW community to call me something new. Obviously you can call me whatever the hell you damn well please regardless of my feelings towards it. I very much appreciate being called a they and referred to as something other than an example of a male (or female, yes it happens). To anyone who takes the effort to put up with my bullshit, thank you. This goes double for those who are new to this.
There are a lot of people for whom refusing to use their preferred pronouns is taken as personal insult. Don’t go using me as an example for how to be trans because my gender identity is a hell of a lot less important to me than it is for most other trans people. Also, I’m totally down to be a resource for anyone who wants to learn more about this from a source that isn’t obsessed with being politically correct.