To pronoun or not to pronoun

The making of a non-binary person:

There’s a meme that pops up every now and then about a bird that is called a penguin its whole life. One day the bird meets a doctor who says, “You are not a penguin, you are what is called a swan.” The swan is filled with relief. Suddenly, its whole life makes sense.

I had my swan moment in 2011 when I was in my mid-20s.

…I fell into an online rabbit hole and stumbled to the Wikipedia page for gender identities. It was here that I first read the definition of “non-binary”. In those paragraphs, I learned about people who do not follow binary gender norms, people who feel they exist in an intermediate space outside the definitions of male and female.

Which is most people. Few women refuse to pick up a screwdriver, simpering that that’s a man’s item. More men refuse to pick up a bottle of dish soap, to be sure, because for men it’s a step down, into the weak inferior stupid sex, but even so few men are 100 on the Stallone scale.

“This is me,” I thought. “I am non-binary. This has been me my whole life. And I’ve just never had the words to describe it.”

She did have the words. If she’d asked a feminist or two she could have learned that. The words are about ignoring or breaking the stupid rules about what Women Do and what Men Do. It’s not such a weird spooky subject that it needs a new vocabulary.

I was like [my mother] in my embrace of non-traditional gender roles. But unlike her I existed somewhere else. It wasn’t just that I didn’t feel “girly”, or was taller, and larger and less feminine. It was more than that: the label “woman” just didn’t fit me.

In other words she had the subjective belief that she had stronger more intense feelings about not feeling “girly” than her mother did, disregarding the fact that she had no way of knowing that. It’s not as if there’s a measuring device we can use to discover whose gender feels are more intense than Mommy’s.

She’s decided she doesn’t like customized pronouns though.

For a while I was in favour of singular “they/them” pronouns. But as I saw their use blossom and take off, I began to dislike them, and now I can’t stand them. As a writer I take language seriously, and I’ve read several texts where people use the “they/them” pronouns which have left me genuinely confused as to whether they were speaking about an individual or group. Some writers argue that Shakespeare regularly used “they/them”, to which I reply, “Very few people write as well as Shakespeare.”

Plus he didn’t use them instead of the usual ones. Viola and Cordelia and Rosalind are hers, Lear and Hamlet and Orlando are hims. He wasn’t that kind of trendy.

H/t Sackbut

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