I had the opportunity….no, wait, not the right word….privilege…yes, that’s much better….I had the privilege to speak with an amazing young person regarding their perspective on gender. They were smart, articulate, compassionate, and overall, just a really cool person! They consider themselves to be gender fluid or more accurately, non binary, pan sexual. And presents as a super androgynous person. We began a discussion regarding pronouns. That is where things got really interesting really quickly.
“So, what pronouns do you prefer??”
“They, them and it.”
They, check, got it.
Them, check, got it.
It, chec….wait…what? It ??!! Really?!?!
And that’s where we spent some time. I asked how they felt about “it”, and they said they were fine, didn’t bother them. In fact, there are several people in their community that are also fine with “it”. I was mildly shocked. And I’m sure you probably aren’t surprised by that. And if you are, that I was shocked, then it’s my bad, as I clearly need to get out more. Which is probably the case regardless. Anyway….
I explained that for many, if not all, in my community, my direct community, not the LBGTQ community at large (as I can’t speak for everyone), the use of “it” is never, ever, a good thing. I recounted an incident where someone I know was called “it” and they were extremely offended. And it wasn’t by some gassed up yahoo just being a jerk, it was in a medical setting. By professionals! So, any experience I have had with that word has not been deemed to be acceptable.
So now I need to wrap my head around this. And it’s taking a bit of time. Certain things are so well ingrained that it takes a bit for me to switch gears, so to speak. But I guess I need to get used to this. Of course, just because some prefer “it”, doesn’t mean that everyone does. It just goes to show that you sometimes really need to ask someone about their pronouns. If not all the time, particularly if you are not sure.
I am glad that I had this opportunity to meet this person. I learned something. And that is always a good thing. I also know that I need to rethink how I explain the use of pronouns to people not in the LGBTQ* community, which happens A LOT ! And it’s not as much about adding “it” as an acceptable pronoun, but more around the importance of asking, then using the requested pronouns. Even if you are not comfortable with them. It’s not about you. It’s about them. Making them feel more welcome and accepted.
And that’s the big thing.