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Adapting to new language and thinking on gender

kenny

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As we struggle to emerge from our dark past of -isms, equality and respect of all others is finally getting the attention it deserves.
I've found the above article to be an interesting and useful guide that examines overdue changes in our culture and language.

I hope my respect of others keeps up with the times, but when it comes to topics like gender and trans it can be awkward and even confusing, at least for me.
Old-school language can reinforce beliefs that are outdated, for instance, harmful language like fireman, mankind, or lady doctor.
Now gender that has been added to the mix, headlines and controversy are everywhere.
IMO the pious and backward will fight changes to gender thinking and language tooth and nail, even more than they fought and fight against equality for non-heterosexuals.

For me it will take a while to introduce myself in this recommended way, "Hi, I'm Kenny. I use him pronouns. What about you?"
 

Mekp

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What a wonderful topic for this month!
One of the many great things about having teenage kids is they keep me on my toes regarding inclusive language. My 13 year old just explained to me earlier today what demigirl and demiboy mean. I try to keep up, but for my kids it is easier, I think.
I'm lucky that I work for a very progressive company. We include our pronouns in our email signatures.
 

123ducklings

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Thanks for posting!

I have a friend whose child uses “they/them” and it has been an adjustment for me to get the language right in our conversations. I find myself mentally struggling with verb conjugation, and sometimes I will first think my friend is talking about multiple people when she’s actually just relaying a story about her one child. I’ll get there though!

When I first had children I felt a similar struggle to summon gender neutral terms to help them describe their world (firefighter, mail carrier, trash collector, etc). A little thought and care went a long way to adjust what language came naturally to me, and I know these evolving pronouns will be the same.
 

elizat

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For me, I am happy to use whatever pronoun someone else wants if they make it known.

I personally would not introduce myself with pronouns though.

Some people call me by first name, or my last name- or mispronunciations of a simple last name, or even nicknames I don't use. I don't feel a need to communicate what pronoun I use or what nickname I like or don't like. I also do not correct people when they say my last name wrong or give me a nickname I don't use. It just doesn't matter enough to me.

At my last company, I was called almost exclusively by my last name at all times for almost nine years with some people making up nicknames of the last name. I didn't really like it that much, but never said anything, because it didn't matter much at the end of the day.

However, if this makes it easier for people, great, if doing introductions helps in that manner.
 

MakingTheGrade

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I work with kids as a healthcare worker and ask for pronouns in every case in developmentally appropriate language. It’s amazing the number of kids for whom I’m the first person they’ve “come out” to just because I’m the only adult to have asked. It’s an honor every time.
I’ve never had a kid react poorly but I have occasionally had parents get annoyed by the question, never enough for them to really raise an issue about it though. Just facial expressions and “is that question necessary?” To which I calmly say “yes” and then move on. Though this rarely happens as I tend to ask these questions without guardians in the room for obvious reasons.
 

Daisys and Diamonds

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I'm happy to call people what ever they prefer

I find from a grammar perspective these new uses of pronouns a bit clumsy to roll off the tounge but if its what someone else prefers for them selves then of course I'll do my best to adress them that way


Postman, fireman, policeman,storman, mankind etc doesn't worry me but i guess ill move with the times (eventually)
 

Matata

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I have no issue honoring the request of someone who indicates to me which pronoun they prefer to be addressed by even though as an old school English major, i feel as though my tongue will turn black and fall off when I address someone as they :bigsmile:

I hope the need to explicitly define our sex/gender identity upon introduction fades and we can come up with a term that is neutral -- such as "human" or "it" -- because that signifies to me that we evolved to a point where everyone has equal rights and acceptance not based on sex/gender identity.

Edited to add: I suppose there are people who would be offended by the "huMAN" so maybe BE (biological entity) would be better.
 

foxinsox

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I was thinking about this yesterday - I currently don't include my pronouns in any introduction/email signature but always make a point to pronounce people's names correctly and use their preferred pronouns so I think I'm doing pretty good as an ally.
But I have realised that not including my pronouns isn't being as much of an ally as I could be. It needs to be normalised that everyone provides their preferred pronouns, same as how you might say how you pronounce your name so that specifying your pronoun is no longer marking you out to be wierd or different. It's about providing a welcoming environment not a hostile one where it's harder for someone to be themselves.
@Matata the use of they as a singular has been around since the 14th century so is not a violation of actual English rules, merely the later prescriptivist approaches to grammar if that helps your old school English major self. My linguist major self enjoys these "violations" of the grammar rules (particularly the use of "youse" and "y'all" for 2nd person plural to fill English's gap) ;)2
 

Matata

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@Matata the use of they as a singular has been around since the 14th century so is not a violation of actual English rules, merely the later prescriptivist approaches to grammar if that helps your old school English major self.

Thank you! Now maybe my tongue won't cramp when I use the term. As far as normalizing the identification of pronoun preference, while I understand your point and realize the necessity as long as society continues to discriminate against non binary people, to me it is a violation of my privacy to be required to define myself so specifically. I rebel against boxing myself in in that way as I rebel against defining myself in most other currently traditional ways. It makes me itchy, twitchy and bitchy when others require me to paint a single layer picture of myself when I'm comprised of infinite layers of possibilities and nuance.
 

foxinsox

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Thank you! Now maybe my tongue won't cramp when I use the term. As far as normalizing the identification of pronoun preference, while I understand your point and realize the necessity as long as society continues to discriminate against non binary people, to me it is a violation of my privacy to be required to define myself so specifically. I rebel against boxing myself in in that way as I rebel against defining myself in most other currently traditional ways. It makes me itchy, twitchy and bitchy when others require me to paint a single layer picture of myself when I'm comprised of infinite layers of possibilities and nuance.
And that’s fine too - you can choose to not define or limit yourself in those terms if that’s how you feel about it.
I don’t think I’m defining myself in those terms, simply giving them, same as how would state my name upon being introduced to someone.
Out of curiosity, do you have pronouns you prefer to use?
 

nala

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As a high school teacher, I intend to avoid the use of pronouns when referring to my students. I doubt that I can memorize 160 pronouns and don’t want to offend anyone so I will just be repetitive and always refer to my students by their name.
 

Daisys and Diamonds

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Thank you! Now maybe my tongue won't cramp when I use the term. As far as normalizing the identification of pronoun preference, while I understand your point and realize the necessity as long as society continues to discriminate against non binary people, to me it is a violation of my privacy to be required to define myself so specifically. I rebel against boxing myself in in that way as I rebel against defining myself in most other currently traditional ways. It makes me itchy, twitchy and bitchy when others require me to paint a single layer picture of myself when I'm comprised of infinite layers of possibilities and nuance.

I get you
i hate having to say im Miss or Ms
I feel like its no bodies bussiness but mine
I had to fill out a form at the cop shop once and the policeman said it was best to just tick Miss or the computer would spit it out
 

missy

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It's easy for me because once you realize the fact that vocabulary is always changing and growing and new words are always being created or modified it becomes easy to accept and adapt.

Nothing remains the same and the only constant is change. Including our words.

Especially with regards to gender there is a need for these "new" words. They create an understanding and show respect and serve an important purpose.

That is the true beauty of language. It is ever evolving and shows our creativity and allows us to embrace our diversity. We should all have equal opportunities and this is moving in the right direction.

Language needs to be inclusive of everyone. Change can be hard for many but it is necessary. IMO.
 

Mreader

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What a wonderful topic for this month!
One of the many great things about having teenage kids is they keep me on my toes regarding inclusive language. My 13 year old just explained to me earlier today what demigirl and demiboy mean. I try to keep up, but for my kids it is easier, I think.
I'm lucky that I work for a very progressive company. We include our pronouns in our email signatures.

I’m curious about this - like in what format? Would it be like “Thanks, MReader, she” ?? I can’t visualize it.

I teach French and Italian and gender is a main part of the language so I often wondered how this evolution would affect that.
 

elizat

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As a high school teacher, I intend to avoid the use of pronouns when referring to my students. I doubt that I can memorize 160 pronouns and don’t want to offend anyone so I will just be repetitive and always refer to my students by their name.

I think I would default to this as well, especially if I was a teacher or working with kids. I don't know if I'd be comfortable asking what pronouns they want. If they have not even thought about it, what then? I would think using a given name or nickname they ask to use would be safe!
 

Mekp

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I’m curious about this - like in what format? Would it be like “Thanks, MReader, she” ?? I can’t visualize it.

I teach French and Italian and gender is a main part of the language so I often wondered how this evolution would affect that.

It reads:

Mekp lastname (pronouns: she/her/hers)
Job title
Company name
Phone/fax/etc

It just automatically adds my signature to all my emails. I usually close all my emails with "Thanks, Mekp" or "Regards, Mekp" before the actual signature.
 

Cerulean

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I have multiple friends who I indentify as “they/them” or “she/them” “or he/them” etc

One of my best friends is “they/them” and they also changed their name. Admittedly it was initially hard to adjust to the use of they, and it feels...awkward, but it’s a small price to pay for their comfort. I am curious to see how language evolves over time.

the debate around huMAN , mankind, etc I find confusing as those terms have been used to refer to human beings of unspecified gender. The etymology traces back to old english and had largely not been used to refer to “human male”...I find this bone picking tedious TBH
 

kenny

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Another confusing gender/lauguage thingie ... actress and actor.
On one hand an actress is a female actor.
But a group of them, mixed gender, is called actors.
Sometimes I also read of a single actress called an actor.
Should we change it all to, actperson?

Maybe it's time to just genetically modify all future hu-beings so no they have no reproductive organs or baby feeding stations, and leave all that messy reproduction business to the test tubes.
 
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rainydaze

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One of my kids is non-binary, so their pronouns are they/them. It has been over a year since they brought this to our attention. We had zero trouble adjusting to their gender identity, however it is still proving a bit challenging at times to adjust to the pronouns. This is purely a linguistic thing; having understood and used pronouns a particular way for 40+ years, DH and I still slip. I imagine part of the trouble is that we also used a different set of pronouns for this child for x amount of years. It's a tougher habit to break than we would have thought.

Sometimes when talking with someone who still knows my child by their assigned-at-birth name & gender, I have to stop and clarify who I am speaking about and why I am using this new name along with they/them. I don't love coming out *for* my child but it should be as easily understood and accepted a concept as she/he, so I just let them know matter-of-factly. Some folks are familiar with current gender identities and we can move on quickly; with others I give a brief explanation of what non-binary means either because they ask or because I can tell they're confused. Thus far, everyone has been receptive and curious, wanting to understand and embrace the concept if they haven't already.

Interestingly, I often subconsciously revert to my kiddo's assigned-at-birth name and pronoun when recounting a memory or event of them that occurred when they were younger. From a psychology & memory-pathways standpoint, I find that interesting.

I find as time goes on that I am just naturally using more and more non-gender-specific terms such as child, person, student, etc. all the time, even when speaking of my other kids or just people in general. Aaaaand then there's the fun when DH and I both find ourselves calling our she/her child they/them and getting all twisted up! It's definitely taking some time for new pathways to become second-nature, but we're committed and getting there.
 
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Arcadian

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With where I work and whom I work with, we were not allowed for many years to refer to peers with a gender. They are to be referred to by name, either given, their title, or whatever name they prefer to be referred by.

So to that end, I do not label myself except by my name.
 

foxinsox

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I teach French and Italian and gender is a main part of the language so I often wondered how this evolution would affect that.
linguistic gender is often not linked to the reference object eg feminine for ship wouldn’t change but certainly where they do choose a particular form due to the presenting gender, I could see them working similarly to English where the reference may provide their preferred pronouns.
 

Mreader

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linguistic gender is often not linked to the reference object eg feminine for ship wouldn’t change but certainly where they do choose a particular form due to the presenting gender, I could see them working similarly to English where the reference may provide their preferred pronouns.

Right because it becomes tricky if you say “student“ or “friend” or “neighbor” you have to use the term for a masculine or a feminine student, friend or neighbor. There are almost no neutral terms.
 

jaysonsmom

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One of my kids is non-binary, so their pronouns are they/them. It has been over a year since they brought this to our attention. We had zero trouble adjusting to their gender identity, however it is still proving a bit challenging at times to adjust to the pronouns. This is purely a linguistic thing; having understood and used pronouns a particular way for 40+ years, DH and I still slip. I imagine part of the trouble is that we also used a different set of pronouns for this child for x amount of years. It's a tougher habit to break than we would have thought.

Sometimes when talking with someone who still knows my child by their assigned-at-birth name & gender, I have to stop and clarify who I am speaking about and why I am using this new name along with they/them. I don't love coming out *for* my child but it should be as easily understood and accepted a concept as she/he, so I just let them know matter-of-factly. Some folks are familiar with current gender identities and we can move on quickly; with others I give a brief explanation of what non-binary means either because they ask or because I can tell they're confused. Thus far, everyone has been receptive and curious, wanting to understand and embrace the concept if they haven't already.

Interestingly, I often subconsciously revert to my kiddo's assigned-at-birth name and pronoun when recounting a memory or event of them that occurred when they were younger. From a psychology & memory-pathways standpoint, I find that interesting.

I find as time goes on that I am just naturally using more and more non-gender-specific terms such as child, person, student, etc. all the time, even when speaking of my other kids or just people in general. Aaaaand then there's the fun when DH and I both find ourselves calling our she/her child they/them and getting all twisted up! It's definitely taking some time for new pathways to become second-nature, but we're committed and getting there.

I could almost write your post word for word. My husband and I still slip up, but we are getting there. And my other kid who is binary and cisgender is often called they/them too!

Funny text I got from my binary, cisgender kid: “we got an A in Chem final!” I said, it’s okay to say “I got an A....” none of the rest of the family took the final.....
 

Rhea

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I find stating pronouns difficult because I honestly don't care. My name isn't common, is masculine, and is often mispronounced. I just answer, roll with it, and move on unless someone specifically asks what I prefer or how to pronounce my name.

Mrs, Ms, or Miss on the other hand I get livid over. I will argue to the death on that one. Call me Mr Rhea or Ms Rhea, I really don't care what gender someone may think I am or am not. Use a title which denotes relationship status after I've corrected the speaker and it's game on. I think I'll struggle to be an ally in the pronouns way. I'm hoping that using what someone else wants to be called is enough.

For me it will take a while to introduce myself in this recommended way, "Hi, I'm Kenny. I use him pronouns. What about you?"

I had a giggle because as a Brit I don't have to worry about such things. Brits are notorious for having entire, lengthy conversations without ever actually introducing themselves.

www.separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.com/2012/06/introducing-yourself.html
 

dk168

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I had to complete a form recently, can't remember what it was for, and the designation "Mx" was one of the options available in addition to "Ms" which is what I would normally select instead of "Miss" or "Mrs."

It is a sign of our times.

DK :))
 

Jambalaya

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My pronouns are in my email signature, too:

Name
Job title
Company
[space]

Street address | City | State| Phone number | Pronouns: she/her
 
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