February 2nd, 2015


on nonstandard pronouns such as bun/bunself or fae/faeself and transphobia

icon: "Renenutet (a relief carving of Renenutet, represented as a winged cobra, overlaid with a fractal coloring)"

volamonster asked me to give detailed thoughts and feelings on a person requiring others to use pronouns for them such as bun/bunself, fae/faeself, and other uncommon choices.

My initial reaction to learning of these pronouns was that they allow the benefits without the stigma; it seemed unfair. A way to use the hard work of trans people for a fun little idiosyncrasy; tourism in the world of the gender non-conforming. I have definitely seen this emotional reaction in the trans community and I get it. But the more I thought about it and the more I was exposed to it, the more I realized that even though some people will just use it for tourism, those who use nonstandard pronouns of any kind in a serious manner (such as asserting and requiring) make the world ultimately a safer place in the long run.

While defaults being presented with "bun asked me to carry bun's stuff to the car, but I told bun to do it bunself" may indeed react with mockery and respond to further nonstandard pronouns with mockery, I don't think that's something that bun was creating. Any pripoi was gonna mock anyway; trans people haven't lost a chance to get taken seriously because of this other pronoun. On the flip side, having been exposed to non-standard pronouns in a way that is less threatening to their world view, they may take trans people's pronouns less seriously in a good way. People don't murder what they think is harmless; they murder what threatens their entire framework of reality. If being exposed to bunself or faeself gives phobic people a chance to experience non-typical genders without having to re-think their whole life, that could be a good thing.

Also, I don't approve of respectability politics: we don't need to act near-default to have respect (for instance, using he/she/they). And if a fae-ish or bun-ish person (no idea of the proper way to frame that gender) is willing to face the same bullshit, they are sharing the burden and I appreciate it. I like the idea of eventually having a language that either allows for every person to have their own pronoun, or simplifies to a single pronoun for all living beings. I could see it going one of those two ways.

Also, anytime a person thinks to themselves, "is this way that people treat me true to me? no? then how could they treat me in a way that affirms me?" and then takes that answer and asserts it, I feel they are doing valuable self-reflection. And if that becomes a cultural norm, it makes it easier for others to assert their own needs. Questioning the norm is always valuable, including when it is of a less oppression-resistant variety.