Monday, 8 August 2011

Pronoun trouble.

Last week I went down to Recreation Nottingham for the first time. I'm always rather shy and tongue-tied around new people (not that I have much conversation at the best of times), but they seem like a nice bunch. One of the things they did, before getting down to any business, was go round the group and have everyone say their name and which pronouns they preferred. I'm (insert name) and I like "he", or "she", or "they" (gender neutral), or "ze", or whatever. It's a nice idea.

Actually we did this twice (once again after someone else came in later on). First time I said "I'm Jonathan and most people use he, but I'm not really bothered"; second time I said "I'm Jonathan and I use he, but whatever you like is fine", or something along those lines. But what I should have said was: "I'm Jonathan and although I take other people's preferred pronouns very seriously, I've never thought about my own all that much." So, I've been doing that now.

The pronoun "he" is correct for me, but, well, y'know. Occasionally I get called "she" – in trans company, or on trans forums (cf my previous post), or by mistake – and "she" is kind of nice. It recognizes my femme pronoun-wise, if only inadvertently. Whereas "he" doesn't. Using "he" is like ticking the "M" box on a form. I always want to append a "but" to it. Okay, I could get round any pronoun qualms by using a neutral one, but that seems a bit of a cop-out for me. My gender isn't neutral. And "she" is simply wrong, since I'm not female. No, "he" is correct. But then there's that "but" again.

And that "but" means this:

Just because I'm male and accept the pronoun "he", please do not assume that you therefore know anything else about me: how I think, how I feel, what I like, who I like, what I know, what I do, what I can do, what I can't do, what I understand, what I don't understand, how I dress, how I have sex, how I eat my breakfast ... anything. The gender "male", the pronoun "he", the ticked box "M" tells you nothing about any of this. I am not from Mars. Stick your gender stereotypes up your arse and set fire to them.

So, okay, that's settled then. You can call me "he". But...


  1. Love it! Couldn't agree more re: people not making any assumptions about you based on your gender.

  2. Thanks :)

    The penultimate paragraph is probably my favourite in the entire blog.

  3. Hey Jonathan - great blog. I stumbled upon you reading another blog I follow. I too struggle with clearly identifying which pronouns I prefer as none seem quite right. mostly I am ok with whatever and always have that same feeling of don't over assume who I am from your assumption about my gender. Well said! I would like to follow your blog but don't see a follow me link. please advise.

  4. Hello there – and thanks :)

    Your own blog looks interesting too. I shall investigate it properly later.

    As for following mine: I guess I'm making it a bit difficult by having such a long blog list. The “Join this site” thing is below everything else. Just keep paging down until you get there. Or CTRL+END straight to the bottom (if you're on a PC – dunno whether that works on a Mac).