Little to no risk in sharing your pronouns

From last summer: Why I Put Pronouns on my Email Signature (and LinkedIn profile) and You Should Too.

Pronouns…on your signature?

looks around confusedly as if having just landed on an alien planet

What does that even mean? Signatures don’t have pronouns.

Never mind what it is; the point is it doesn’t cost you anything.

For a cisgender person (a person whose gender is in alignment with the sex they were assigned at birth- more on that another time!) there is little to no risk in sharing your pronouns. When you’ve never questioned what pronouns people use for you, or even thought about the idea of pronouns after you learned about them in 2nd grade, sharing your pronouns on digital profiles is easy and costs you nothing.

Emphasis in the original.

I beg to differ. It would cost me my self-respect, my unconscious feeling of having some clue about how to do basic things like walk through doors, buy food at the supermarket, wear clothes, not fall over. I would feel like a damn fool if I started signing things with My Name + me me me me. That’s a cost.

For a person who is transgender or nonbinary, sharing pronouns can be a bit riskier. If someone is transitioning at work and only a few people know about it, sharing pronouns may out them before they’re ready. For a nonbinary person, sharing they/them pronouns often only sparks a lengthier conversation (*coughthisarticlecough*) rather than simply inform people.

That’s why we ask cisgender people to lead the change by sharing pronouns.It normalizes the process, has little risk, and actually makes for a safer environment for everyone.

What process? Signatures don’t include pronouns, for anyone, not even trans people, so what process?

Finally he explains. (Or maybe it’s not “he”? Despite the name Max Masure and the photo of a man? Am I committing a social crime by assuming he’s a he?)

At Argo Collective, we always have our workshop attendees make a commitment before the close of each session. One of our clients committed to adding his pronouns on his LinkedIn profile. Two days after he added “He/Him” after his last name, a University reached out to him and said they noticed he and some of his colleagues added pronouns on LinkedIn. The University told him they had a transgender student who was looking for an internship placement and this company seemed like a safe environment for the student to begin their career.

Oh, that’s what it means: adding it in parentheses after your name, as some people do on Twitter.

No. It’s stupid and otiose and I’m not doing it.

Now at this point in my reading, I start to have a familiar thought: the intention here is to be kind, and it’s making me feel sick, and isn’t there something dubious about feeling sick at intentions to be kind?

So I pause to think about it.

There could be. Certainly a lot of the struggle against “political correctness” smacks of that. Carl Benjamin smirking at the camera and saying he guesses he would rape Jess Phillips if pressed enough but really there isn’t enough beer – that’s definitely about being pointedly hateful for the sake of being pointedly hateful.

But scorn for people who obsess over pronouns? I don’t think so. There’s such a thing as cruelty, there’s bullying, but there’s also misdirected kindness. I think pronoun follies are infantilizing rather than kind, however kind the intention may be. You can want to be kind to a toddler and give her chocolate until she throws up; a mistaken form of kindness.

One way the mistaken kindness of a lot of “allies” of trans people goes wrong is that it fosters narcissism. Trans ideology seems to attract narcissists as it is, and the ever-ratcheting-upward campaign to “center” them just makes it more attractive to narcissists. It’s inherently narcissistic to believe that one’s own inner feelings can contradict physical reality, and the more people coo over that belief and offer to do it favors even when signing emails, the more narcissistic the believer becomes. I think that’s probably the core reason this “movement” is so fucked up and so filled with idiotic claims and rules.

So, no. I think saying “Don’t be ridiculous about pronouns” is not cruel or bullying the way saying “I guess I’d rape her if pushed” is.

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