Tuesday, 23 August 2011

More on pronouns.

In my earlier post on pronouns, I indicated a reluctant willingness to accept "he" (and therefore "him" and "his" too) as long as no assumptions were made about what "he" might mean. Thus, at the next Recreation meeting, I said I didn't really like pronouns but that people could use "he" for me. And this little statement got a nod of understanding.

But now I'm thinking about changing my mind, because I've just come across a post by Kate Bornstein: A Tribute to Mx Justin ViVian Bond, which includes the half-sentence "V (Justin ViVian's pronoun of choice)". Say what?! Going to Mx Bond's own site, there is this explanation:

Not long ago I was asked to speak on a panel at Columbia University entitled “Denaturalizing Gender and Sex”. Before introducing me the organizer of the panel asked how I would like to be “pronoun-ed”. I wasn’t quite sure how to reply. Obviously for the majority of my life I’ve been referred to as “he” or “him” and to a lesser degree “she” or “her”. I don’t usually think about it too much except when reading it in print where it has annoyed me to no end. I’ve never really addressed it because I have had no better suggestions to offer. For some time I’ve been familiar with the words zee, hir, or they as gender-neutral terms but I’ve never really liked them. So the fellow who was going to introduce me, upon sensing my dis-ease suggested “they” because “that’s Genesis P-Orridge’s preference”. I said okay thinking I might as well try “they” on… “if it works for Genesis….”

Well after introducing two of the other panelists I heard my name followed by “they” and I began looking around to find out who the other people were he was talking about, then I remembered that “they” was me. I got a good chuckle out of it but my pronoun quandary was clearly NOT solved.

So what I’ve come up with is “v”. Since my name is Justin Vivian Bond and since Vivian begins with a V and visually a V is two even sides which meet in the middle I would like v to be my pronoun.

For example:

Justin Vivian Bond was described in The New Yorker as “a bar of gold in the new depression”. V’s latest eponymous show at Joe’s Pub will be Saturday January 8th at 11:30


“Have you seen Justin Vivian?”

“Yes, V ran to the store to pick up the dress v is having altered.”

V covers it all.

In the future if I see or hear the words he or she, her or him, hers or his, in reference to me, I will take it either as a personal insult, a weak mind (easily forgivable), or (worst case scenario) sloppy journalism.

Ah, that's splendid! And v's descriptions of "Prefix: Mx" and "Gender: Trans" are also very engaging.

So, I guess my pronoun should be "J". As in: "Is Jonathan coming tonight?" "Yes, J said J'd be down at 6:30, but J'd have to leave by 9:00 so that J can catch J's bus home."

Okay, maybe not. Using "J" in there makes it all a bit convoluted and clumsy. But it's a nice idea all the same :)


  1. Recently a friend asked why there are no sex pronouns on my Facebook page. He said, "Whenever you update anything it just says 'their'. Why is that?" I asked him if he knows me. Of course he said yes. Then I asked him why it matters given that he knows me. After he thought about it for a good twenty seconds the answer was "It just does." I think that sums it up. People must be able to label, to quantify, to identify. When they can't, even if the KNOW, it makes them uncomfortable. Sad, but true.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Feel free to visit again anytime.

  2. Hi Lynn. Yes, I visited your blog after reading one of your comments at Quiet Riot Girl. Welcome to mine :)

    On pronouns: it's true – people mostly insist on a definite answer. Really, if they're unsure, I'd rather they just call me whatever they like, than press me to make the decision for them. Sigh.