Pronoun Proliferation

She? Xe? Xem? Let's call the whole thing off.

Via memeorandum, I came across an article at The Cut titled “They, Then and Now Asking for pronouns has become a social standard. Who is it serving?” It’s by Brock Colyar, a 24-year-old nonbinary individual who prefers the pronoun “Them” and who uses the Twitter handle @UnhappyFem.

Because Colyar’s thoughts and feelings are complicated, the piece is something of a rambling mess but nonetheless worth working through. The upshot is that Coylar is simultaneously happy living in a world where gender norms aren’t as rigidly enforced as they were until quite recently and a bit tired of having to constantly announce their gender identity with people, most of whom want to be polite about it but are nonetheless anxious and uncomfortable about the whole thing. Furthermore, the fact that gender nonconformity seems to be the in-thing for those under 25 is rather exhausting.

The conclusion:

These days, it feels as if an identity that, not long ago, felt unique to me in most rooms I entered has gone mass. Yes, part of what I’m personally upset about is the fact that this thing I loved isn’t so alt anymore. But more than that, it feels as if pronoun culture has contributed to nonbinary becoming just the third gender after male and female, more static and concrete than its original fluid intentions. The same nonbinary person who complained about nonbinary stereotypes lamented to me, “I don’t want to be a homogeneous normcore mashing of the two genders.” Ben hoped, “If man or woman can mean so many things, then so can nonbinary.” We all became nonbinary to escape gendered expectations, and now we’re stuck again. I can’t help but think that the walking-on-eggshells battle for pronouns is turning my gender into a human-resources-approved corporate product, more neutered than neutral, and, maybe above all else, profoundly unromantic. Next time, just call me by my name.

I do wonder how this will shake out over time.

It’s not much of an issue for me. My colleagues are middle-aged and older and even our students are mostly in their 30s. And while there are significant numbers of gay and, especially, lesbians, the working assumption—whether correct or otherwise—is that their pronouns conform to their gender.

My three stepchildren, ranging from 18 to 22, are all perfectly comfortable with the idea of gender fluidity. My 13-year-old has, in my view, overcorrected the point where she won’t presume that someone presenting unambiguously goes by the gender identity that seems obvious to me. I’m not sure my just-turned-11-year-old is much thinking about these things.

Maybe Colyar is on to something: it’s probably just easier to refer to people by their name than in a gendered manner. We can likely retrain ourselves to do that in conversation. It’s harder in writing without being clunky and redundant.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Gender Issues, Society, US Politics, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. drj says:

    And I’d politely respond, “They/them is fine,” with a smile. Maybe a somewhat forced smile, because I’ve come to dread this whole interaction.

    just call me by my name.

    Problem solved!

    My larger point: many of these kinds of articles serve no function – apart from capitalizing on the idea that the last part of the LGBT+ acronym somehow amounts to a major contemporary social isssue.

    Which it doesn’t if we just let these people be. (Have a discussion about transgenders in competitive sports, if you like, but even that is best left to the experts.)

    To wit:

    My three stepchildren, ranging from 18 to 22, are all perfectly comfortable with the idea of gender fluidity. My 13-year-old has, in my view, overcorrected the point where she won’t presume that someone presenting unambiguously goes by the gender identity that seems obvious to me. I’m not sure my just-turned-11-year-old is much thinking about these things.

    Sounds fine! Except that 13-year-olds gonna 13-year-old… but such is life.

    ETA: To even further clarify: we’re cooking the planet, there is war in Ukraine, the GOP seeks to institute minority rule, and I must somehow care about some rando’s genitals? Thanks, but no thanks.

    11
  2. Stormy Dragon says:

    The increasingly common portrayal of “nonbinary” as being equivalent to “agender” * is being largely driven by cis people; desexualizing nonbinary people makes them less threatening to the mainstream.

    * – agender is a perfectly valid type of nonbinary but only one type

    2
  3. Stormy Dragon says:

    @drj:

    apart from capitalizing on the idea that the last part of the LGBT+ acronym somehow amounts to a major contemporary social isssue

    If you’re a trans person and a major party is trying to criminalize you from even appearing in public, it’s about the single most important contemporary social issue there is

    12
  4. drj says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    and a major party is trying to criminalize you

    I think you and I are in agreement that the problem is NOT the existence of trans people.

    Don’t confuse the scapegoating (which is an important issue) with the scapegoats (who are not).

  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    … is trying to criminalize you from even appearing in public, it’s about the single most important contemporary social issue there is

    Absolutely, and that is an issue worth fighting for, but that is distinct from trying to force the global adoption of them/they for gendered pronouns.

    Admittedly, my personal experience with transitioning individual is small, but to a person, and all were male>female, when they came out, they asked to be addressed with female pronouns and adopted what would be considered female dress appropriate to their age. The more I learn about nonbinary, it strikes me that that is the artificial social construct and not male/female.

    2
  6. Argon says:

    Fluck, I’m doomed! I suck at remembering names.

    Plus, names can be fluid for people as well….

    4
  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I will call people by whatever pronoun they want. “It does me no injury. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” I just hope they are understanding when I inevitably screw up.

    25
  8. KM says:

    a bit tired of having to constantly announce their gender identity with people, most of whom want to be polite about it but are nonetheless anxious and uncomfortable about the whole thing.

    My default is always they/them until someone asks me to refer to them otherwise. However, it’s better to get that info quick so you don’t have to wait. It tends to piss off older or traditional folks in America but honestly it’s a solid business habit to have. I’ve worked with too many coworkers in other countries to assume based off names. Considering how often first/last name get mixed up due to culture issues, having it as part of your intro just makes sense. Some language have features that tell you what pronoun a person chooses to use for themselves like Japanese; an introduction can easily include that info without a person needing to actively inquire. English doesn’t have that feature so you can either assume (increasingly a rude trait) or bare the personal discomfort and craft a standard intro that concisely provides and asks what you need to know.

    “Hello, my name’s X. Please feel free to call me Y and use Z/Z. May I ask your preferences?” There- tells you who I am, how familiar you can be with me, provides pronouns and inquires for the same info. Say it often enough and it rolls off the tongue even in private conversations. Kinda like how customer service people will unthinkingly tell you to have a nice day when parting since they say it so frequently. It will stop being awkward once it becomes a standard part of your vocab.

    8
  9. Cheryl Rofer says:

    With this article, it now looks like The Cut is aiming to be the voice of cis male hegemony. For those who missed it, they also had a cover story bemoaning the fate of a poor innocent highschool boy who shared nude photos of his girlfriend. Only one more article needed for a trifecta of cis white male hegemony!

    2
  10. Modulo Myself says:

    I wonder how much of the article has to do with living in New York. As the writer notes, Joe Biden (he/him) is kinda ridiculous. The guy is pushing 80–it’s a gesture. He’s not he/him, trust me. But a non-binary or trans kid living in Arkansas surrounded by indifference or worse any gesture of kindness is going to be received differently.

  11. steve says:

    Being the father of a trans child we have had this talk and wife and I both told her we will try but we are old and will inevitably screw it up. We have asked her to be graceful about it and done the same with her friends. Seems to be working OK though she admits she has not and wont introduce us to her friends who are militant about this.

    Steve

    4
  12. Neil Hudelson says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I just hope they are understanding when I inevitably screw up.

    In my experience–being what can best be described as “a giant doofus whose mouth moves faster than his brain, and who happens to work closely with many trans community advocates”–they are just about the most understanding group of people I’ve ever met, intensely aware of others’ humanity, including the propensity to make mistakes.

    7
  13. Jen says:

    I will use whatever pronouns someone wishes for me to use. It takes almost no effort at all and I’m a big believer in meeting people where they are.

    This, however, struck me as odd:

    Yes, part of what I’m personally upset about is the fact that this thing I loved isn’t so alt anymore.

    If using the correct pronouns about having a core part of your being recognized, I guess I’m a bit baffled by the “I liked this band before anyone had heard of them” tone of this statement.

    13
  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    I cannot imagine ever telling anyone what pronouns they should use to refer to me, presumably in conversations where I am not present. People talking about me are free to call me or refer to me however they like – it’s not really my business, is it?

    As for remembering other people’s pronouns, I want to laugh. I am notoriously unable to remember people at all – their faces or their names or the circumstances under which I may or may not have met them before. When I’d tour I’d usually have a flack with me and the first thing I’d tell them is to assume that any time I walk into a room I know no one, have never met anyone, and the fact that someone quite clearly knows me does not in any way suggest that I know them. I could give several jaw-dropping examples. My life is full of people named, ‘dude,’ who when in groups are ‘you guys.’

    9
  15. becca says:

    About fifteen years ago, I had a part time at a local department store. New employees were always rotating through and one day Ken joined the team. Ken was very quiet and detached. After a couple of weeks Ken came to work as Kendra oand said not a word. That was hard. It was discombobulating. Changing he to she or they, whatever the order, takes a bit of time for the brain to process. I felt terrible when I inevitably screwed up and Kendra looked stricken and I wanted to crawl under a rock.

    Transition is often painful.

    2
  16. wr says:

    @steve: ” Seems to be working OK though she admits she has not and wont introduce us to her friends who are militant about this.”

    Sounds like a win-win!

    8
  17. grumpy realist says:

    Maybe we’ll all go Japanese, and start referring to each other by nothing at all…

    I’m grumpy enough to think that this is 99% 13-14 year olds wanting to piss their parents off or emo New Yorkers wanting to epater les bourgeois.

    At some point the whole uproar is going to become old hat and the young-uns will have to find something else to spook the parental units.

    (Anyone who has a chip on his/her/their/zis/zer shoulder about this should really, really, Get. A. Life. There’s a heck of a lot more important stuff out there to worry about and your insisting that everyone play along in your little universe is just going to cause me to insist in turn that you refer to me as “your royal highness, ruler of all creation.”)

    6
  18. wr says:

    @becca: “I felt terrible when I inevitably screwed up and Kendra looked stricken and I wanted to crawl under a rock.”

    Maybe I’m just old and grumpy and white, but it seems to me that someone who transitions suddenly like this should expect that some people who have known them for a long time under their previous name and gender are going to misspeak from time to time. Just because the change is the most important thing in your life, that doesn’t mean that it is always going to be the top of everybody else’s.

    There’s an old saying I’ve long liked — “even a dog can tell a kick from a trip.”

    10
  19. Chip Daniels says:

    I remember how there was a similar confusion over terms like “Negro” or “Black”, “Afro-American” or “African-American”.

    In my experience, most people aren’t hypersensitive or carrying a chip on their shoulder and looking to start a fight. Addressing people in good faith is usually reciprocated.

    6
  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:
    When my daughter transitioned it took about a week to get to 70%, then another month to get to 90%, and after that it’s more like every three months I’ll hit the wrong note. It gets tricky when you’re coming at it from an unexpected angle, especially references to the past where she was a he and it’s stored in memory that way, memories that might be very rarely accessed and thus don’t get retconned. But then I love her (and she scares me) so that made it easier than some person I’ll just happen to meet who will of course be named ‘dude.’

    If I were ever in a real workplace again (God forbid) it would be even worse because of my tendency to refer to all family members as, ‘babe.’ I’d be sure to drop that into conversation and find myself at HR within an hour.

    7
  21. Sleeping Dog says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The recent poll that reported that a significant number of 15(?)-25 yo IDing as gender fluid caught my attention. Why is that cohort IDing as gender fluid at a much higher rate than the slightly older millennials? The easy response is, kids pissing off adults, but that isn’t a satisfactory answer either.

    A good Ph.D dissertation topic.

    2
  22. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    As Cracker can attest, my default, go-to is “kiddo.” I variously blame age/chemo brain, or “child of the counterculture ” for not remembering nuthin. OTOH, my boss berated me for calling him ‘boss,’ as apparently that’s a throwback to antebellum Virginia.

    @Michael Reynolds: been there, done that. Got the hat and souvenir beer cozy. One star rating, do not recommend.

    3
  23. Chris says:

    Pronoun issues are not new. For example, I am old enough to remember “Ms.” being controversial. However, all other controversies aside, this round of additional pronouns seems to be proliferative and somewhat exhausting to people just trying to get by in this crazy world. Also, I bristle at the term cisgender (derived from cissexual or zissexual), as the term was invented in the 1990s by some researcher from the ranks of academia trying to score points for inventing a new word (it’s a thing). How about we all just try being nice to each other as we engage in social situations… my two cents.

    6
  24. becca says:

    @wr: What was weird was that the company was and is progressive, the CEO very open about his sexuality and friendly to LGBQT+ issues. Should have known better, for sure.

    But 15 years later, things are getting easier to navigate.

  25. Matt says:

    While I’m sure this is a thing kids are using just to mess with the “adults” there are certainly some exceptions. One of my online gaming groups has a person with female parts that prefers to be referred to as they/them because of detailed personal reasons that are difficult to sum up here without writing a multiple page essay. They are in their late 30s and have kids. Even the saltiest old guy on our server calls them they even if he and I cannot discuss politics (right winger). Because as he said if using a preferred pronoun makes this fucked up life a little easier he doesn’t have a problem with it.

    3
  26. grumpy realist says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Because it’s chic? Because il faux epater les bourgeois? Because it shows how fab you are by comparison to your stogy boring classmates who simply call themselves “male” and “female”?

    I’m not into the 57 sexes fad for one very simple reason: the more names you have for different identifications, the narrower the definition for each will be and the more backbiting and policing of each other the whole mess is going to disintegrate into. We saw this happen with “feminism”, to the point where the whole thing collapsed. I’d rather expand the social roles for both male and female, which is probably what 99% of humanity identifies as. People who identify as something else can contemplate their own navels on their own time.

    3
  27. Mike in Arlington says:

    Honestly, I’m convinced that this is such a small thing and it won’t be long until most people are sensitive to it. A lot of the “controversy” around it is an attempt to feed into the culture war/moral panic about transgender people (which I am convinced is a precursor to an attempt to turn back the tide on gay rights).

    I think what gets a lot of people into trouble is not that they screw up and use the wrong pronoun accidentally, but by asserting that they didn’t screw up and everybody else is being overly sensitive (see, Maher, Bill).

    3
  28. Beth says:

    On the what to do if you get it wrong front, the best thing to do is either barely acknowledge it and move on, grumble a quick sorry, or give a quick sorry later. Most of us have a fairly decent sense of when it’s a mistake and when it’s a FU. It’s way worse to make a scene out of it. I have a good friend that deadnames me all the time. For the most part I don’t care, she’s just being herself, but she gives out these performative apologies that are way over the top, disclose too much about me, and make everyone else uncomfortable. Don’t do that.

    @wr:

    “even a dog can tell a kick from a trip.”

    A lot of blows, especially in the beginning feel like kicks. Adult transition is fraught. Especially when so much of the culture says that we are both superhuman and disgusting, that we are morally weak and broken, but also deceptive rapists. Everytime I pee in public I take a deep breath and wonder if that’s the time I’m going to get the stuffing knocked out of me.

    @Michael Reynolds:
    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    I would take “kiddo”. I would be over the moon if someone called me “babe” but, I’m a weirdo like that. I’ve been working on getting rid of “dude” or “you guys” out of my speech because those are masculine and masculine shouldn’t be the default. It’s hard though. I’ve also been working on adding “darling” into my speech, because, again, weirdo, and I’d also like to be a bratty aristocrat.

    7
  29. Beth says:

    @Mike in Arlington:

    We’re this season’s Satanic Panic.

    3
  30. wr says:

    @Chris: “For example, I am old enough to remember “Ms.” being controversial. ”

    I remember my father being pissed off my “Ms.” Not because he disapproved of the concept — he was all in favor. It was the period. You put a period at the end of “Mrs” and “Mr” because they’re abbreviations. Ms. wasn’t abbreviated anything, so it should have been treated like Miss.

    So anyone who was wondering why I bothered to go into a rant yesterday about nodding versus shaking, here is my origin story…

    6
  31. My Yixiao says:

    I find the while thing a bit silly but I’m not going to cause a tank about it. I have zero issue with he/she (even if it doesn’t match appearance). I’m going to mess up on “they” here and there, and I’m not going to default to it.

    The funny thing is, I spent 6 years being frequently wrong-pronouned. Chinese has a single pronoun (ta), and it’s very common for EFL speakers there to pick the wrong one. I’d just crack a joke or playfully ask “she??”. No offense taken.

    1
  32. Kylopod says:

    @Mike in Arlington:

    which I am convinced is a precursor to an attempt to turn back the tide on gay rights

    What do you mean, precursor? It’s already happening.

    4
  33. CSK says:

    @Beth:
    Make sure you pronounce it “dahling” if you want to be a bratty aristocrat.

    1
  34. Beth says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Admittedly, my personal experience with transitioning individual is small, but to a person, and all were male>female, when they came out, they asked to be addressed with female pronouns and adopted what would be considered female dress appropriate to their age.

    My partner attacked me with this the other day:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnOGSFV7154

    Personally, I like to pair mine with a tutu and pasties. If I could get away with it, I’d look like I just walked out of a Delia’s catalog.

    2
  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Beth: Just to remind us all that “you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself,” I will go on record noting that I absolutely hate people using terms of endearment for total strangers. It grates on me no end to be called “dear” or “honey/hon” or “darling” by someone who doesn’t know me so the term of endearment is entirely inappropriate.

    Then again, I guess that’s why when someone is being dismissive of someone else online, the dismissive person calls the other one “sweetie” or something similar.

    1
  36. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    It grates on me no end to be called “dear” or “honey/hon” or “darling” by someone who doesn’t know me so the term of endearment is entirely inappropriate.

    Some of that is cultural/regional (especially “hon”) and is just the equivalent of sir or ma’am.

  37. Kylopod says:

    @Beth:

    I’ve been working on getting rid of “dude” or “you guys” out of my speech because those are masculine and masculine shouldn’t be the default.

    I’ve occasionally used the “Dude…” expression on the Internet, the kind where you’re trying to be sarcastic or condescending and imply the other person is being a dunce. (As in, “Dude, are you serious?!”) It’s something I picked up online, even though I’ve never used the word “dude” in speech. But I always make sure I know the person I’m addressing has identified as a man.

    I think the “You guys” business is another one of those expressions to account for the lack of plural-you in standard English. I sometimes resort to “y’all,” even though I’m not from the South. (Well, Maryland, but I don’t think that counts….)

    3
  38. Sleeping Dog says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Nor am I. Pending being convinced otherwise, my thoughts are that we come into the world with a physical binary assignment, male or female. I’m leaving aside the small number of people that have both tool kits. But that isn’t the end of the story, some folks are emotionally, for lack of a better term, wired to be the other gender from their physical characteristics. In a better world those individuals should be supported and accepted, in making a change, if they so desire. The inter-sex thing seems to me to be about choice, which is OK.

    1
  39. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    There’s nothing wrong with “you all.”

    At the last college where I taught, we had a student (biological female) who insisted that her/his gender identity changed during the course of the day, and equally insisted that we address him/her according to the pronoun of the hour. We were, I think, supposed to intuit her/his gender identity at any given moment.

    Everyone was relieved when he/she graduated.

    1
  40. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    The recent poll that reported that a significant number of 15(?)-25 yo IDing as gender fluid caught my attention. Why is that cohort IDing as gender fluid at a much higher rate than the slightly older millennials? The easy response is, kids pissing off adults, but that isn’t a satisfactory answer either.

    Previous generations didn’t have the option, so everyone just rounded their gender to the closest? That seems like the most obvious answer, but at the same time we don’t see a lot of people in the older generations struggling with gender because of that binary — either the rounding works fine or they are silently suffering.

    Given the shit trans folks go through, I’m not willing to completely discount silently suffering though. I don’t think a lot of people my age would stake a claim to some other gender unless it was a crushing need — way easier to be a feminine dude, or a masculine chick who “isn’t like all the other girls” or whatever.

    I’m curious to see what happens to the people with the microgenders — the gender-fluid demi-boys and all that — as they hit 30 and 40.I suspect it is going to be like all the people who identified as bisexual in passing as they worked towards accepting they were gay, or who were just bisexual in college — most will fade away.

    (I’m bi/pan/whatever… I don’t want to discount my own existence, but it’s often a label people take while figuring themselves out)

    Alternately, perhaps we have finally put so much chemicals and shit into the groundwater that we’ve fucked up our biology. Can’t completely discount that possibility — you can always find reports that frogs in Minnesota are growing up with misshapen genitals and stuff.

    3
  41. Gustopher says:

    Some mischievous part of me thinks it would be amusing to insist upon they/them at my next job because “my massive shlong is none of your business.”

    Assuming I ever bother to get another job… it would require looking, which would require wanting a job.

    1
  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    Meanwhile the Supreme Court is putting guns in the hands of everyone to carry everywhere. We’re getting our asses kicked and we’re discussing pronouns, the equivalent of worrying about neckties on D-Day. The enemy is damned serious and completely focused, and we’re doing this.

    4
  43. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Gustopher:

    On reaching middle age, people have tend to settle and accept their lives the way they are and try to make the best of it. That maybe part of the answer regarding older folks and perhaps the future for today’s gender fluid.

    A couple of other questions that I’ve not seen answers too, though I haven’t looked hard, among the younger cohort, females appear to be more frequently gender fluid and it seems that males seek transition to females in larger numbers than female>male. If both assumptions are true, then the reasons why would be enlightening.

    1
  44. grumpy realist says:

    @Gustopher: I’m going to insist on “-sama” at my next location and piss everyone off…

    Actually, Melissa Scott wrote a decent SF novel (Shadow Man) about a world where there were in fact many many genders (many of which were chromosome-linked) and the society insisted that everyone was either “male” or “female”. I seem to remember that the original drift away from XX and XY homogeneity was due to going through space portals multiple times, but I may have confused the book with another of her works.

  45. Tony W says:

    My 13-year-old has, in my view, overcorrected the point where she won’t presume that someone presenting unambiguously goes by the gender identity that seems obvious to me.

    No, your 13-year-old understands the true, non-white-middle-aged-male-cis-gendered-default world more fully than you and I do, and would rather ask than offend somebody.

    We all need to learn about dead names and gender identification and consent and other things that weren’t “things” when we were young.

    3
  46. James Joyner says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I’ve been on The Cut a handful of times, all from referrals, so don’t have any real sense of what it is or what its agenda is. But the author is clearly not cisgender and certainly isn’t pushing for some sort of “cis hegemony.” I take they’re just expressing exasperation about how much work and social discomfort goes along with all of this, which is obviously worse if you’re in a smallish, poorly understood community than it is for those of us who are just trying to navigate this without it impacting our identity in any way.

    4
  47. Jim Brown 32 says:

    I honor all pronoun corrections—but counter with one of my own:

    Jim Brown 32 (white-he/white-him)

    Makes both parties subject to honest mistakes

    1
  48. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Oh noes! An entirely uninfluential blog is chattering about a fairly trivial issue! The republic is lost!

    2
  49. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: And a more reasoned reply: for all the big issues that there are, the decisions are going to be made on the stupidest shit imaginable.

    In 2004, it was basically “who would you rather have a beer with, John Kerry or the guy who started a pointless war, wants to privatize Social Security and doesn’t drink?”

    At present, the question being driven into people’s heads from the right is “Are Democrats out of touch with middle America by catering to trans folks and whatever those middle people are?”

    You can either capitulate, avoid, or push back.

    Capitulation just moves the goalposts. Avoidance has never worked.

    Push back by changing hearts and minds, and making the bigots look like uncool, insensitive, boring jerks.

    Look at this thread compared to a pronoun thread from a year ago — society is changing fast.

    3
  50. Mister Bluster says:

    @Gustopher:..lost
    The Republic was well on it’s way to being lost the day that Supreme Leader and Chairman of the Republican Sex Workers Party Kim Jong-Trump was sworn in to office on January 20, 2017.

    1
  51. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog: There’s always been a greater acceptance of bisexuality in women than men — male fantasies for threesomes is likely a driving factor there — so I would be wary of assuming that the difference in gender nonconformity among amab and afab* are anything other than a social conditioning of what is possible.

    And afab non-binary folks tend to be more androgynous, which is very different than amab non-binary who often have more gender markers rather than fewer. They get a different reaction.

    (Both, however, can now legally carry guns, to tie this back to a Michael Reynolds approved topic.)

    The gaze of the patriarchy stares deep.

    ——
    * assigned male/female at birth, for those not in the know.

    3
  52. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: Well bless your heart! I’ll still note that I was talking about what makes me uncomfortable and feels inappropriate (and additionally, I thank you for believing that I’m too stupid to understand culture–that doesn’t happen much anymore).

    1
  53. Jen says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Speaking only for myself, I’m doing “this” (meaning, responding to this post) because it’s all my mind can handle right now without going into too dark a place.

    Rolling back Roe, arming everyone…this was writing on the wall on the eve of Nov. 8, 2016. And yet, even with that recent lesson, we still have to “motivate Democratic voters!” “Let them feel heard!” “They won’t vote if we don’t extend debt forgiveness!”

    Anyone who isn’t voting because they don’t get a free cookie or don’t feel sufficiently enthused is a petulant child.

    7
  54. Beth says:

    So I was going try actual critque of this article while I wait for a call, but this thing is too much of an actual disaster to read. I’m with @Cheryl Rofer: on this. This thing is a Cletus Safari but about LGBT people and in particular Trans/Non-Binary people. This author, for their own agenda is saying, “ignore all the wailing of those cry babies, you stay comfortable Cis Straight Whites. You’re the important people and you’re right those fags are just crybabies”.

    This is privileged 20 year old smugly whining that they didn’t get to live through the 90’s but it’s ok, they have their own war. It’s a several hundred word version of how I use “darling”, but stripped of wit and timing and replaced with condescension.

    I’ve read it three times and I can’t figure out what the point is, other than to make the straights feel good about treating Trans People like garbage. I’d rather sit down with @Jim Brown 32: and discuss why his take is bad and rude, than spend anytime with that Author. At least with Mr. Brown we’d either come to a better understanding of each other, or, at a minimum, I’d get a little closer to a humorous response to that particular bad take.

    I think that this:

    These days, it feels as if an identity that, not long ago, felt unique to me in most rooms I entered has gone mass. Yes, part of what I’m personally upset about is the fact that this thing I loved isn’t so alt anymore.

    Sums up what is going on. The Author thought this was something that made them special and interesting. Unfortunately, your gender tends to be one of the least interesting things about you. The Author seems to think that taking a dump on those less cool then them will somehow be an in with the cool scolds.

    2
  55. Beth says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I understand where your coming from and can agree. My use of the word is mostly performative. I try to be careful about it’s use. Most of the time I just want to be performatively annoying. It pushes the dopamine button when someone rolls their eyes at me and exclaims “Goddamnit Beth!” I want that level of friendly annoyance, I don’t want to get hit. Other times I use it to express pure disdain. The “bless your heart” version of “darling”.

    @James Joyner:

    I take they’re just expressing exasperation about how much work and social discomfort goes along with all of this, which is obviously worse if you’re in a smallish, poorly understood community than it is for those of us who are just trying to navigate this without it impacting our identity in any way.

    Except this article is a terrible way to do that. This article is all about making straight people feel comfortable with their boorishness so that the Author can feel superior again. The real work is to do stuff like what I do here. I always feel like a one trick pony, but if I can get YOU to maybe think, “wait, didn’t that lunatic on my blog point out why this Republican BS is nonsense and maybe Trans people aren’t disgusting.” Then I’ve won. It’s emotionally exhausting to be the one who’s like “I’m Beth and I speak for the Trans”, but it’s necessary. Reading that article, do you in anyway feel at all enlightened about the Enby experience?

    3
  56. Beth says:

    @Jen:

    It is a little better than sitting in the corner and wailing that we’re doomed. I haven’t read the gun case yet, I’m too horrified of what’s in there. At least here we’re with friends.

    2
  57. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    It grates on me no end to be called “dear” or “honey/hon” or “darling” by someone who doesn’t know me so the term of endearment is entirely inappropriate.

    And that is your cultural bias and inability to understand (or even tolerate) cultural behaviors that are foreign to you. And this is one of the reasons that northern liberals can’t make any headway in bringing in the southern moderates–you refuse to understand them. Worse, you insist that their norms are insulting.

    Get over yourself and accept that other cultures have norms of politeness that differ from your own.

    In the south, terms such as honey, darling, and sugar are not “terms of endearment”. They’re cultural shorthand for “I’m going to assume you’re friendly until I see otherwise”. When you bristle at those terms, you’re making an enemy for no reason. And you’re reinforcing the stereotype that “all Yanks hate southerners”.

    If you’re in a Waffle House in Texas and the waitress brings you your plate and says “Here you go, sugar”, you reply with “Thank you kindly, hon.”

    The same as you hand your business card to a Chinese with both hands, and you hand it to a Korean with your right hand holding your left wrist.

    Or… Y’know… Y’all could keep on doin’ what you’re doin’, insulting rural culture, and wonder why “those hicks” aren’t jumping on your bandwagon.

    2
  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Yeah, not knowing any trans people* I suspect so. All the gay people I know are.

    *I just found out today that a child I once bounced on my knee is trans. I haven’t seen her in years so I probably wouldn’t have a problem if I see her again. Or maybe I would. Ida know.

    1
  59. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: It gets tricky when you’re coming at it from an unexpected angle, especially references to the past where she was a he and it’s stored in memory that way, memories that might be very rarely accessed and thus don’t get retconned.

    Enlightening, that never would have occurred to me.

    2
  60. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: The recent poll that reported that a significant number of 15(?)-25 yo IDing as gender fluid caught my attention. Why is that cohort IDing as gender fluid at a much higher rate than the slightly older millennials? The easy response is, kids pissing off adults, but that isn’t a satisfactory answer either.

    A good point. I would guess it is just because they are more open to the idea than the older cohort.

    1
  61. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: I’ve occasionally used the “Dude…” Heh, I immediately heard that in Jeff Bridges voice.

    1
  62. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: A thumbs up for the chuckle.

  63. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: There’s always been a greater acceptance of bisexuality in women than men — male fantasies for threesomes is likely a driving factor there — so I would be wary of assuming that the difference in gender nonconformity among amab and afab* are anything other than a social conditioning of what is possible.

    And afab non-binary folks tend to be more androgynous, which is very different than amab non-binary who often have more gender markers rather than fewer. They get a different reaction.

    Speaking as an old, I got a head ache just reading all that. Then I was very happy that I am old, happily married, and can barely get it up anymore so none of that is my problem anymore.

    1
  64. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mu Yixiao:..Waffle House in Texas
    Don’t put me in a bag!
    Why are you assuming that Northern Liberals are culturaly biased and unable “to understand (or even tolerate) cultural behaviors that are foreign to you.”
    I live in Illinois. Every Friday morning when I deliver the paper to one of the local diners I hear “How ya’ doin’ hon’?” From one of the waitresses.
    “Got the Times” Is my standard reply.
    I haven’t had a meal at the place in years. She must remember the tip I left last time I ate there.

    1
  65. James Joyner says:

    @Beth:

    Reading that article, do you in anyway feel at all enlightened about the Enby experience?

    As noted in the intro, I thought the piece something of a rambling mess. It’s like some blog posts that I write when I’m reacting to something new and trying to work through it, not a column somewhere that should have gone through an editor. I have no knowledge of Colyar outside this piece but, yes, see it as a window into how one particular 24-year-old is experiencing a changing landscape.

  66. de stijl says:

    Mandarin has existed for a few thousand years without gender specific pronouns.

    This is not rocket science.