Before we all dive into this fascinating topic, let me introduce myself first. You can call me Wren. I’m a writer. I write stories. I also identify as non-binary and I use they/them pronouns. This educational ramble will be based heavily on my own experiences but I don’t speak for all non-binary individuals. I just speak for myself and that’s all I can do. I will include some questions at the end for those who wish to contribute. The more info, the better!
So… what’s the deal with pronouns?
As you may have learned in grade school or elsewhere, pronouns take the place of a noun in a sentence. I think it’s mostly a stylistic thing to add ease when speaking. For example, look at how clunky this sentence is:
Bob pulled out Bob’s phone and called Bob’s mother to talk about the weather.
Instead, if you use pronouns, it can be written as the following:
Bob pulled out his phone and called his mother to talk about the weather.
Notice how that example used the he/him pronoun set, which are commonly seen as male/masculine pronouns. Third person pronouns are often gendered, and when you feel neither male or female, it can be frustrating. This leads some people to the practice of adopting they/them as a gender-neutral pronoun.
But wait! Isn’t they/them used for multiple people?
I see so many people try to argue that singular they is grammatically incorrect and to those people I say, screw off. Language is allowed to evolve and change. The more we normalize singular they, the more accepted it will be. Besides, people use singular they without even realizing it. Take a look at this image if you’re confused:
Why bother getting them right?
So, I’ve noticed there’s a bit of a knowledge gap when it comes to certain people and using the right pronouns. They may understand the concept and wish to be respectful but… they lack that deeper understanding on why pronouns are important. Since this is an education thread, I will let you all in on a little secret…
Pronouns are typically used when other people talk about us. I feel most comfortable when they/them pronouns are used for me because I know people know who I am. (Or at least they know the me that I want them to know but that’s a topic for another day and another thread.) Anyways, when the wrong pronouns are used, I feel as if that person is indirectly telling me and others that they know me better than they know myself – that they’re trying to define who I am. It just makes me uncomfortable. I also get dysphoria from time to time, which is absolutely horrendous and it tends to spike a bit when the wrong pronouns are used for me. I have to physically force myself to look away from the wrong pronoun usage and then bug someone else to help me fix it.
I also feel super self-conscious about having to correct people on their pronoun usage. I’ve seen plenty of attack helicopter memes and it makes me feel silly to constantly remind people who are clearly making an effort to edit their posts. Like I know my gender identity is valid now (something I struggled with a ton in my younger years) but I still feel… awkward when I correct people. I even have my pronouns in my profile on here and I still have to correct people sometimes. So… the fear of being annoying is there. But it is very important to me for people to get my pronouns right. It matters to me, no matter how silly it may seem. Pronouns are important.
Anywho, I hope that helped some of you understand pronouns on a deeper level. If you still have any confusion or want to ask me questions, feel free to reach out to me. I also don’t mind giving some tips to those who wish to write more non-binary characters because representation is important. So is doing your research.
Now, then, let’s get into some questions. You’re welcome to answer them, whether you are non-binary or otherwise. These are just to get a conversation rolling and so I don’t have to keep bumping this thread every few days to stay relevant. Feel free to use this thread to ask your own questions, too, as long as you’re respectful about it. I am really not in the mood to debate my gender identity here or anywhere really.
- What pronouns do you use?
- How do you feel when the right pronouns are used for you?
- How do you feel when the wrong pronouns are used for you?
- Anything else about pronouns you feel like sharing?