Pronoun Problems

Trans folks are asking: Is it weird to tell someone your pronouns?

As more and more folks recognize that people’s gender shouldn’t be assumed based on presentation, leading with your pronouns is becoming commonplace. They’re often included in email signatures, in Zoom display names, and — in certain settings — in introductions to new peers or coworkers. But is sharing your pronouns off the bat always the right call, or does it have a time and place?

That’s what one nonbinary person was wondering when they took to the r/asktransgender page on Reddit with a post titled, “Wait…is it weird to say my pronouns when I introduce myself?”

“My pronouns are they/them. My presentation is a mix of different gender signals. And I always introduce myself by saying: ‘Hi! I’m [Name], they/them, nice to meet you,’” they explained.

They went on to share a story where in a group setting a mix of cis, straight, and queer folks, they were the only one to share their pronouns when introducing themself.

“I recently had a trans friend pull me aside and say: ‘You know, you don’t need to say your pronouns every time you introduce yourself,’” they continued. “They made it sound like it was embarrassing, or maybe I was enforcing a stereotype of queer folk? Or maybe they were implying that people shouldn’t assume pronouns as their default? I’m not sure, but I was too embarrassed to ask.”

“I honestly don’t like having to say my pronouns with my introductions, but when I don’t, people awkwardly go out of their way to avoid misgendering me and it makes interactions uncomfortable,” they concluded. “It’s just easier when it’s out there in the open right from the start.”

So, where do other trans folks stand on the issue? The most upvoted comment points out that even though giving your pronouns in an in-person introduction may not be super common, it isn’t necessarily a bad idea.

“While putting pronouns in signatures has come a long way to being normalized, introducing yourself with pronouns unprompted is still a bit of a ‘niche’ queer thing,” the commenter wrote. “But there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with doing it. If it makes life easier for you, then by all means do it, people who judge you for it, would have just judged you for something else anyways most likely. Like it’s a little thing that helps you, and harms no one, anyone who has a problem with it probably has deeper issues.”

Another commenter said that it all depends on your audience. If you’re talking to cis people, it can be a good chance to educate them on nonbinary pronouns.

“I have a rule: if a cis person would not use your preferred pronouns based on your presentation, state them. Cis people are largely uninformed and make very quick assumptions based on very little information. If your pronouns are not she/her or he/him, stating them is fine,” they wrote. “Since mine are she/they I always make sure to announce that because it is outside the binary. […] Your friends are saying that because they see you do it a bunch and maybe to them it’s obvious. But it isn’t to everyone, and being on the safe side to avoid some dysphoria is always a good idea in my book.”

Ultimately, the post was met with a resounding message of “do what makes you feel most comfortable.”

“You’re doing nothing wrong,” commented one user. “If you want people to know, let people know, absolutely nothing wrong with that, it’s just up to the individual to decide.”

“If it makes you comfortable; do it,” wrote another. “Especially if it means you don’t get misgendered.”

“This feels to me like the sort of thing that’s weird now, but give it a generation or two, and it’s gonna be a lot more normalized in society,” shared a third. “But the first step needs to be taken somewhere for it to happen, so why not start it now?”

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