Amia Srinivasan, 2 July 2020
How would any of us – trans or not, binary or non – feel if others, convinced that they knew the truth of who we really were, insisted on referring to us using words that, so far as we were concerned, didn’t apply to us? If you think you would not feel like a failure or a freak, could it be because you can’t imagine being so wildly misnamed by the world? People use non-standard pronouns, or use pronouns in non-standard ways, for various reasons: to accord with their sense of themselves, to make their passage through the world less painful, to prefigure and hasten the arrival of a world in which divisions of sex no longer matter. So too we can choose to respect people’s pronouns for many reasons. We can do it because we buy into the idea that there is no simple sex or gender binary, or because we want a world in which the binary, whether it exists or not, is stripped of its cultural weight. But we can also respect people’s pronouns simply because we want to be kind, because we too know what it is to feel like a failure and a freak, because when we talk about someone, we want them to feel that it is them we are speaking of, really and wholly.