I feel fortunate to have a trans friend, who I feel comfortable enough with that I can ask him anything, and I know that I won’t be shamed or put down. As some gay male writers express, even when they mean to be supportive of the Trans community, if they say something deemed wrong, they get shot down. If more folks like my friend were out there offering feedback, those of us who want to write intelligently about Trans issues could do so, and it would be a win/win for everyone. Recently I fired off an email with a list of thoughts and questions, and in reply, I received this pronoun resource list. I’m providing here with permission, and with only one comment.

The “T” has been a part of “LGBTQ” for sometime, but I think in all truthfulness, there is very little real understanding of Trans issues within the whole community. Same with the “Q.”  This has to change if we are ever going to be successful at fighting for the rights of all.

Being a Trans Ally Takes Practice: 8 Tips for Pronouns by Rayden Sorock

One of the most basic and important aspects of supporting transgender and genderqueer people is using the names and pronouns we use for ourselves. It hurts when people use the wrong pronouns for us, and it is tiresome to correct people over and over.

Using correct pronouns is validating and shows respect to trans and genderqueer people. Generally, ask questions when you aren’t sure, be prepared to make mistakes, and put your intentions into practice.

  1. If you aren’t sure of someone’s pronoun, ask: “What is your preferred pronoun?” “How would you like me to refer to you?” or some version of that. These options are better than, “How do you identify?” because that is a different question altogether.
  2. If you aren’t sure, you can just avoid using pronouns altogether–or you can use the person’s name instead of a pronoun.
  3. If you aren’t sure of someone’s pronoun, you can use use THEY/THEM as neutral pronouns. Try it and get comfortable using it.
  4. If you know someone is transgender or genderqueer, pay attention to the pronouns they use, or the pronouns other people use for them. Don’t always assume that the pronouns other people use for them are correct.
  5. USE the pronouns we prefer. Really try to get it right.
  6. If you make a mistake, correct yourself, re-commit to using the right ones and move on. You can say, “Sorry! I meant ___” and then it’s over. Don’t make it all about you and how bad you feel. Never blame the transgender or genderqueer person or make excuses for your inability to use the correct pronouns.
  7. If you keep getting someone’s pronouns wrong, ask yourself why and work on it. You might ask, “Do I assume only people who look like ____ use this pronoun?” “Do I assume only people who sound like ____ use that pronoun?” “Do my pronoun mix-ups reflect an unwillingness to take someone seriously?” “Am I only using correct pronouns for transgender people who pass?”
  8. It can be really hard and exhausting to constantly be correcting pronouns. Stand up for transgender and genderqueer folks and be willing to be uncomfortable for a minute and correct someone.

 

Here is my one comment. I like the phrase:

be prepared to make mistakes, and put your intentions into practice

I love this for a few reasons. It acknowledges that mistakes may happen, and and doesn’t demand everyone be perfect. It also validates that many times folks have the best of intentions, even if they get it wrong. I have experienced getting it wrong and being accused of having the wrong intentions The only way we are going to achieve full rights for all, is to all of us work together. How we talk to each other is a big part of making that happen.

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