Transgender Awareness: You Have the Power to Pick Your Pronoun
Written by: S. Heuwagen and Mary Dickman*
The world has gotten one step closer to becoming a better place. With Facebook allowing individuals to choose their own gender identity and pronoun options; to the media educating themselves on preferred pronouns of individuals; to many activists standing up for Trans and LGTBQ rights; the world is becoming a more open and honest place.
Author and activist, Janet Mock took to Twitter to defend herself after being bombarded and poorly treated on Piers Morgan’s CNN show. The CNN TV host didn’t understand how to communicate Janet’s story appropriately nor did he give her the proper respect she deserved. Mock then blasted him on Twitter for by telling him to “get it the f*k together.”
The author took it to another level by sitting down with Steven Colbert and enlightening the world. “They used very problematic language that showed their lack of understanding …” Mock told Colbert. Ms. Mock was upset because her power as a human being was taken away and respect for her life experiences were not coming across clearly by reporters. Her message was about overcoming difference and giving respect to others, not assuming identities. Using proper pronouns is just one form of showing respect to others, especially those in the trans community, because it not only shows respect, but awareness. Proper pronoun use is imperative. A lesson this writer is still learning to do and use within their own writing.
Which leads me to our point: We have the power to pick our pronouns.
Something Janet Mock was refused by countless others, even CNN. (However, Karma seemed to take sweet revenge because Piers Morgan’s show, was canceled soon after this incident.)
After all we decide what to wear, how to act, what to eat, what we call ourselves– why can’t we take it a step further and decide which pronouns we want to use to describe who we are as people?
Assuming someone’s gender identity gets us into trouble and leaves us trapped in the gender binary; respect not only keeps us out of trouble but also allows for greater personal expression. Why not allow ourselves to ask someone, instead of letting our eyes do the judging? We live in a disconnected world, using pronouns to define who we are and allows us to make a connection to other people. We can start a dialogue, as Ms. Mock suggested, to create the change we want to see in the world. Help enlighten the various people around us by being upfront about our decision to use certain pronouns for ourselves. Giving power back to the individual.
I feel most comfortable using she/her pronoun. What do you prefer?
*Mary Dickman is a Master’s Student in the Women’s and Gender Studies department at the University of South Florida. Her area of interest is the relationship between languages, thought and reality.
In honor of Bruce Jenner and her coming out to the world to be her most authentic self!