Do You Tell People Your Pronouns?

Vanderbilt University put up a poster telling people to introduce themselves by saying, “Hi my name is___ and my pronouns are____”

I’m here to tell you that if your pronouns are in the traditional category of he/she you really don’t need to do this. Really. It’s not necessary.

To read more click here: Vanderbilt’s Pronoun Policy Should Not Come to Your Office

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19 thoughts on “Do You Tell People Your Pronouns?

  1. I agree that this would likely only be occasionally necessary, and not as a matter of routine. Most of the transgendered people I have encountered are seeking NOT to be stereotyped based on their gender status, so would avoid routinely raising the issue. I must admit, though, that I do have a problem with gender fluid people seeking to be referred to as “they.” It’s not intentional, but it’s hard for me to automatically refer to a single person using a plural pronoun. Frankly, I’m hoping that the “they” usage doesn’t catch on and falls into disuse.

    1. I totally agree with you. For grammar reasons, I hate it. That said, I will call someone whatever he/she/they want!

      1. Shakespeare did it. We do it all the time in common speech (for example, “If your kid has a fever, give them Tylenol” doesn’t annoy most people).

        Also, I think you may misunderstand why Vanderbilt’s policy is the way it is. When someone who would commonly be read as of binary gender tells me his or her pronouns and asks me for mine, that signals to me that he or she is open to my having non-binary pronouns. Otherwise, I quietly allow people to misgender me because I don’t want to have a debate about what’s “correct” grammatically or biologically. This goes triple at work.

    2. “They” has been in usage for centuries in the singular and isn’t a new thing invented for usage now that discussions of gender beyond the male/female binary are becoming more commonplace.

      1. Please share your reference that “They” has been in usage for centuries in the singular; as well as the context in which “they” is used as descriptive of singular.

  2. I’m a cisgender woman, and I’ve been getting called “sir” by accident for eons. I personally don’t care, I know people are trying to be polite, but it does seem to cause the other person some embarrassment and distress. Which is just to say that things aren’t always as obvious as we may think.

    Making pronouns part of personal intro’s may not be appropriate for everyone situation, but normalizing the practice means gender-nonconforming folks can communicate how they should be addressed without calling attention to themselves.

    1. “normalizing the practice means gender-nonconforming folks can communicate how they should be addressed without calling attention to themselves”

      This x 10000000. There’s more involved here than just “being nice” to colleagues.

  3. “Hi my name is___, my pronouns are____, my trigger words are ____, my food preferences are ____, my allergies are____, I sleep on my ____, my sexual kinks are____, and I shave my ____.”

    Hi, I’m Gene.

  4. My pronoun issue occurs when people reference me in emails or conference calls without knowing me first. They’ll say something like this in a group email “Jane Doe informed me that Dale Jones is working on some analysis on terms for us. So I think we should set up a meeting so HE can review that with us. Problem? I’m female. My parents just happened to like old westerns and named me after Dale Evans. I don’t correct them and it’s later in those meetings they often admit and apologize for assuming I was male.

  5. So we can’t depend on a person’s name to indicate how to address someone (I’ve had that conversation with Indians that I work with: they can’t even tell based on a name), we can depend on their physical appearance (because while their outward appearance gives the impression they are female/male, they may not be).
    Based on Dale’s example, it is mostly third person references that cause the problem, no?
    It feels like devolving towards calling everyone by their first name or “Hey Yo!” (which of course could offend people) or “it” (as is often done with spayed/neutered pets).

    What ever happened to recognizing an honest mistake by a person (as Dale points out) and accepting a simple “I’m sorry” by the person making the mistake? I’ve been on the receiving and giving end of this; never bothered me, I’ve accepted the apologies; making a huge deal/Federal case out of it pretty much makes we not want to talk to you again.

    In the greater scheme of things in life, there are lots of things worse than being mistakenly called by the wrong “pronoun”.

    This does not excuse or apply to someone maliciously calling someone the wrong thing after being corrected.

    1. I’m not sure suggesting a simple way to avoid mis-gendering someone amounts to “making a huge deal/federal case” out of something?

      I think if you’re saying “what’s the big deal/get over it” but you’re having a really visceral reaction to the suggestion that we introduce our pronouns, you might want to think about what’s going on there.

      1. The “making a huge deal/federal case” is more the individual on the receiving end of a mistaken pronoun getting overly upset at the mistake. Concrete example would be Dale going to HR and filing a grievance because someone used the wrong pronoun (assumption of male) when it was a simple mistake, taken care of “Oops, sorry, I didn’t mean to use the wrong pronoun”.

        “what’s the big deal/get over it”? Nope, never said that, what I’m saying is that people make mistakes, a simple apology should correct it. Look at what Gene wrote: if you have to start every conversation with anyone like that, people are going to talk to each other less and less, with the end result noone communicates. Or they are going to start wearing badges with Gene’s phrase and everyone will have to read them first.

        I really don’t care what people call me, likely that I’ve been called worse.

        1. OT, but would some please explain ” going to HR and filing a grievance?” I have never in my life gone to HR to resolve a conflict with someone at work. Why wouldn’t you just talk to the person about the problem?

    2. What happened to “accepting a simple ‘I’m sorry’ ” is that in real life, people are generally willing to offer a sincere and immediate apology when they get corrected for misgendering a cisgender person or a pet, but they get horribly defensive when they get corrected for misgendering a trans person. As a trans girl, when I tell someone I’m NOT a guy, I’m *massively* more likely to get aggressive pushback along the lines of, “Well, you don’t look very feminine so you can’t expect people to know that!”

  6. Proper English has two genderless third-person singular pronouns, “it/it/its/its”, which is used for things, and “he/him/his/his”, which is used for persons. Proper English also has two gendered third-person singular pronouns, “he/him/his/his”, which is used for male persons, and “she/her/her/hers”, which is used for female persons.

    The overlap between the genderless third-person singular pronoun and the gendered male third-person singular pronoun is unfortunate and inelegant, but does not lead to significant abiguity. For several centuries now, context has served to distinguish the twain in every common use case.

    In the past several decades, however, certain persons have put forth the thesis that early users of modern English deliberately conflated the words for the genderless third-person singular pronoun and the gendered male third-person singular pronoun in a nefarious conspiracy to elevate men to a position of privilege over women.

    Further, the only way to defeat this sociopathological plot is to encourage every enlightened speaker and writer of English to adopt his own personal grammar. Hence the demand for everyone to “choose your pronouns” and announce his preference at the beginning of every communication.

    Thus conscience doth make dotards of us all.

    Anyone who demands that you change the natural grammar of your native language to suit his political advocacy is attempting to take over your mind, and his agenda deserves to be greeted with ridicule and scorn, and then ignored.

    I intend to continue using “he/him/his/his” where no gender is indicated. Live in your own head, because you’re not moving into mine.

  7. Social Justice Warriors may use “Your Excellency” as my preferred pronoun. All others may use the pronouns found in grammar books appropriate to my obvious gender.

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