November 2017
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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.

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Comments
slinkslowdown ══╣╠══
they may take trans people's pronouns less seriously in a good way

I couldn't agree more.

I'd be open to using a non-standard pronoun, but I just haven't come across any that feel "right" to me.
belenen ══╣pensive╠══
hm, I hadn't even thought of using a non-standard pronoun for myself. I like that idea, I'll let it marinate.
secret_keep ══╣╠══
I remember awhile ago, at a burn, talking to Issa:
Issa and Josh were talking about specifics and preferences and how do you introduce yourself in an inclusive way?
And the things they thought were definitely good were name and pronoun.
belenen ══╣adoring╠══
<3
raidingparty ══╣╠══
This might be a benefit of privilege, but I don't have a preferred set of pronouns. I haven't "tried on" anything other than he/him/his, but when I imagine she, or zir, or faeself, I don't find any of those bothersome. Maybe in the delivery, if someone was deliberately trying to be insulting ("it"), although I'm more likely to roll with it if the insulter is implying femaleness because it undermines their edge.

That was a bit of a ways around. I remember you suggesting more "they" pronouns in solidarity with and normalizing pronoun flexibility, but I'm having a hard time with two things:
- In self-identifier-friendly spaces, I'm not sure what to request. I don't know of a strong preference, although I think I'd be most likely to choose Zself if given the option. I guess a question is, what is the purpose of the pronoun? For that matter, would there be a problem with "pick any pronoun you want for me"?
- In "establishment" territory, I can see the benefit of making a change to open people's minds, but I'm not sure how necessary, or (as above) which pronoun to go with.
belenen ══╣gender is a lie╠══
the problem with "pick any pronoun you want" is that it makes it a little harder for others to assert their pronouns. It shifts the mood of the room away from self-identification to other-people-labeling-you. I used to do this, so I understand the impulse, but it doesn't have a positive effect. If you feel neutral about it, I would say the neutral choice is neutral pronouns (they or ze etc).
raidingparty ══╣╠══
See, I thought there would be good reasons not to, but I couldn't quite identify it. And in popular culture at large, less-accommodating people could point at me and say, "He's not being difficult, so why are you?" (Since they would also probably default to calling me "he".)

In other news, http://emorywheel.com/gender-neutral-pronouns-necessary-for-inclusivity/

Adding "personal pronouns" to my to-do list.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.