As I’ve had conversations with Buttercup over the past few days, the issue of pronouns has come up a couple of times, and there are a couple of things about pronouns that I’d like to address.
First, I want to talk about the fact that she has felt awkward asking me which pronouns I prefer, and whether I want to be referred to as her boyfriend/girlfriend/partner. I want to address that so that I can assure cis partners and cis people, from at least a personal standpoint (and from what I hear from other people on the trans* spectrum)– those aren’t awkward questions. Those are respectful questions, questions that show you’re listening, and that show that you care. Questions that make sure you know how to continue being respectful of our experience and our identities, and that you accept us.
Look, you can’t know unless we tell you. And unless we refer to ourselves in the third person, you’re not going to hear our preferred pronouns coming out of our mouths. Unless you ask us. So please. Ask. We’ll tell you. And if we’re not at the point where we can– then… well, there are bigger issues than correct pronoun usage, but we’ll get there.
Second, I want to actually answer the question. Personally, I’ve adopted a somewhat IDGAF policy. To be absolutely honest, I prefer gender neutral pronouns. But I don’t prefer them enough to make everyone around me learn a whole new set of pronouns and their conjugations. (However, if y’all would be interested in a how-to on the gender-neutrals, I’d be more than happy to write one). So I’m okay with “she/her/hers”– and equally okay with “he/him/his.” I told Buttercup it’s probably easier for her if she uses female pronouns so I’m okay with that, and I use a pretty even split between all three choices to refer to myself.
Which leads to the second part of the preference thing:
I’m just as concerned with making sure my partner is comfortable as I am with making sure I’m comfortable. My partner has to accept me as I am, and understand that that means I don’t see myself as a woman all the time. She does not have to instantly know everything there is to know about what it means to be on the trans* spectrum, spaz about gender theory like I do, or even really give a fuck if she doesn’t authentically care about it. My identity journey doesn’t include the right to trample on her comfort.
I prefer that we both feel easy and natural with the terms we use and roles we play in our relationship.
I love that she’ll ask the questions. I am an open book, and I share my thoughts and feelings on the matter freely. Because it’s something that’s important to me, I talk about my gender, and gender in general, a lot. But I don’t, and wouldn’t, force her to deconstruct her gender, or challenge her easy and natural femininity, or ask her to only use gender neutral pronouns to refer to me, when she’s never even been introduced to them before. But that she asked the question? That says more than anything that she really, really cares about accepting me as I am, where I am.