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Author Topic: Alternative Gender Pronouns  (Read 2066 times)

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Offline CupidCattTopic starter

Alternative Gender Pronouns
« on: March 09, 2013, 11:23:38 PM »
I'd always known that some people use alternative pronouns to express their non-normative sexuality, but hadn't really come across it for real (outside of literature) before visiting Elliquiy. It made me wonder a few things, mostly how I feel about using alternative pronouns for people.

I don't have a problem with it, because I respect our individual rights to self-identify any way we like. But I also think that at the end of the day, it's me being courteous - I don't think I have a duty to adhere to somebody's claims that they are hir, hym or shm etc.

I'm writing this because I sorta hope somebody will convince me that there is a deeper reason, beyond social courtesy and good will, for adhering to the notion of gender as an entirely private creation. Because the gender binary of male and female is a massive part of my identity, and I see it everywhere I look. It is reality. And I don't think having 'third' genders diminishes that... but I don't like being compelled, under the threat of seeming insensitive or bigoted, to play along with somebody's fantasy. Especially if that person is claiming it is a fully fledged reality and I need to "get on board, or else". (This comes in reaction to a few heated PMs I had with a certain somebody, btw).

Anyone willing to explain to me why third gender pronouns are important? Without spitting in my face first, please (unless you want to take it to RP)  ;D


Offline Ephiral

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2013, 12:05:20 AM »
I'd always known that some people use alternative pronouns to express their non-normative sexuality, but hadn't really come across it for real (outside of literature) before visiting Elliquiy. It made me wonder a few things, mostly how I feel about using alternative pronouns for people.

I don't have a problem with it, because I respect our individual rights to self-identify any way we like. But I also think that at the end of the day, it's me being courteous - I don't think I have a duty to adhere to somebody's claims that they are hir, hym or shm etc.

I'm writing this because I sorta hope somebody will convince me that there is a deeper reason, beyond social courtesy and good will, for adhering to the notion of gender as an entirely private creation. Because the gender binary of male and female is a massive part of my identity, and I see it everywhere I look. It is reality. And I don't think having 'third' genders diminishes that... but I don't like being compelled, under the threat of seeming insensitive or bigoted, to play along with somebody's fantasy. Especially if that person is claiming it is a fully fledged reality and I need to "get on board, or else". (This comes in reaction to a few heated PMs I had with a certain somebody, btw).

Anyone willing to explain to me why third gender pronouns are important? Without spitting in my face first, please (unless you want to take it to RP)  ;D

Is this question being asked in good faith? I find that highly questionable when you call the identities of a significant portion of E's community, identities backed by a sizeable chunk of medical and psychological literature, a fantasy.

And... really? The gender binary, not being cis, is a part of your identity? You identify as the concept that there are exactly two genders?

As to why it's important beyond not coming across as a boorish jerk: Because binary-obsessed culture is really goddamned dangerous for trans* people.

TL;DR: If you don't want to be made out to be insensitive or bigoted, try some sensitivity.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 12:06:53 AM by Ephiral »

Offline CupidCattTopic starter

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2013, 12:10:06 AM »
Is this question being asked in good faith? I find that highly questionable when you call the identities of a sizeable chunk of E's community, identities backed by a sizeable chunk of medical and psychological literature, a fantasy.

And... really? The gender binary, not being cis, is a part of your identity? You identify as the concept that there are exactly two genders?

As to why it's important beyond not coming across as a boorish jerk: Because binary-obsessed culture is really goddamned dangerous for trans* people.

Ok, I was expecting a certain level of anger. This wasn't too bad, so thanks for that.

Yep, I ask in good faith. I want to be educated, and ask questions.

I didn't mean "fantasy" negatively though I see it can come across that way. Apologies for that. I'd be interested to see what medical literature you are using to qualify the reality of alternative sexes.

I do identify with the idea that there are two essential genders, male and female. And there is a gradient between those two, but that human beings as healthy and reproductive beings identify (in the majority) with being male or female.

Dangerous? I can assure you I'd never touch you... so I don't see why you think my "obsession" with gender is any more dangerous than anyone elses.

Offline CupidCattTopic starter

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2013, 12:14:25 AM »


TL;DR: If you don't want to be made out to be insensitive or bigoted, try some sensitivity.

If you want to be taken seriously, take others seriously too.


Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2013, 12:17:55 AM »
Well, there are two sexes.  I understand there are exceptions and variations, but by and large there are two sexes.  Gender is largely a social construct and so the gradient can be extended into different areas and aspects.  The issues regarding gender identity can be quite severe and traumatic.  Imagine being told, pressured and essentially forced to behave and act a certain way that you do not feel is correct.  The worst cases are when a person literally feels as if their body is not theirs.  To borrow a touch of religion, "God made a mistake."  So the reality is the entire situation can be very trying and traumatic.  People that have come to terms with such a situation are reluctant to slide back into obscurity or be lump into definitions they obviously have problems fitting to themselves.

Now, use of pronouns such as those is a courtesy at the end of the day.  The same kind of courtesy one might extend to a woman by addressing her by a proper title or in using neutral terms to denote a position that could be held by a man or woman.  If a person insists on being referred to by such a pronoun then certainly they feel strongly enough to come forward and make the request and their request should be respected.  Now if someone is merely raising a fit because you are assumed to know something, then that is an entirely different matter.  Such pronouns are not an official part of your language and so should not be an assumed part of your vocabulary or regular speech.

Offline Koren

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2013, 12:21:27 AM »
Im going to show some sensitivity to CupidCatt.
I think a lot of the reason that things like trans* and the like are portrayed and still reacted too negitively in society (and thats speaking as a trans person, especially after seeing studies on the internet percerption of us) is because we jump down the throats of anyone who doesnt understand a concept relating to us. I realised this a lot by talking to people at uni and how they steer clear of anyone that is trans because they dont want to get jumped on if they make a mistake or say something out of ignorence.
Its one thing when they continue to be offensive and then so it just because they can, but no leyway is every provided and I dont see that as a good thing.

CupidCatt:
The reason that people often use Alternative Gender Pronouns, from my understanding which is by no means a full understanding or an authority, everyone is going to have different views on this, is because its what matches them best.
The same as women will want to be called, or find it weird not to be called as 'her' and 'she', and by the same aspect men use and recieve 'him' and 'he', some people identify as neither male or female, and so for them, these pronouns can be as alienating and uncomfortable as someone walked up to you in the street and started talking to you and refering to you as a guy (appologies, if you would have no problem with this, im just using it as an example)

Gender is as real and importaint to many people as their biological sex is. Its not in any way a fantasy, that is to say something made up or false, its a real identity that people use to identify them as who they really are. As for medical examples, Im sure you could find something in psychological papers with trials and research being done into the concept of gender identity and how some people just dont fit. Its as natural to be in the middle of the binary as it is for some people to be born with elements of both biological sexes. You see similar things with people who forced into the binary who dont belong there, as you would if a male was being forced to live as a female or visa versa. Its traumatic and damaging.

And in the end, all referances and communication is about courtesy. There is nothing to stop you from going around calling everyone a bitch, or refering to everyone as male or female just for the sake of it, nothing at all, except for the courtesy of treating people properly and refering to them as who they really are, and for many people that is not in a gender binary. And as I said above, it can be damaging for our sense of self not to be realised, on any level, in a binary or out of one, and so its that courtesy that you are presenting to those people, the same that they present to you, although yours is yes, more straightforward.

I hope I explained that okay, Im really not in the best headspace to be typing up big complex shit but I feel that was a decent explaination first off. I may come back and add to it later.


Offline Ephiral

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2013, 12:34:50 AM »
I didn't mean "fantasy" negatively though I see it can come across that way. Apologies for that. I'd be interested to see what medical literature you are using to qualify the reality of alternative sexes.

There is no inoffensive way for that to come across in this context. You are literally telling people "You don't exist." I'm sorry I reacted a bit harshly to this, but... it's particularly galling to see someone ask for civility with no apparent thought on how to be civil.

Here's a good look at the current state of the bio research. Unfortunately, a fair amount is behind paywalls or in places I don't know where to look.

I do identify with the idea that there are two essential genders, male and female. And there is a gradient between those two, but that human beings as healthy and reproductive beings identify (in the majority) with being male or female.

I think you're confusing "identify with" and "believe". And... well, if you accept that there is a gradient, why are we even having this discussion? You'd be hard-pressed to find a trans* person who doesn't accept that we're an extremely small minority.

Dangerous? I can assure you I'd never touch you... so I don't see why you think my "obsession" with gender is any more dangerous than anyone elses.

Than the general population's? I don't. The general population's focus on a gender binary leads to extremely high rates of violence against and suicide of trans* people. Than trans* folks'? Well... we're just trying to exist and not have to bury part of ourselves and deal with the psychological implications of that. That tends not to hurt people unless they're looking for an excuse to be hurt.

« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 12:36:58 AM by Ephiral »

Offline CupidCattTopic starter

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2013, 12:40:10 AM »
Ephiral, you scare me and it's got nothing to do with your gender choices.

Offline CupidCattTopic starter

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2013, 12:42:39 AM »

Thanks Koren for making the effort even though you didn't feel in the mood. I found your post very interesting.

And thanks Pumpkin, that's my general reaction too. I don't think assuming familiarity with alternative pronouns is fair - and certainly not a reason to berate somebody.

Offline Koren

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2013, 12:47:18 AM »
Thanks Koren for making the effort even though you didn't feel in the mood. I found this very interesting.

And thanks Pumpkin, that's my general reaction too. I don't think assuming familiarity with alternative pronouns is fair - and certainly not a cause to berate somebody.

If I manage to get back into a good headspace Ill try and type up another better put one

And thats the thing, Assumptions are bad, we all know that, but as human beings we are hardwired to make them, I swear we are or else we're all just being stupid about things. Theres nothing wrong with making a wrong assumption UNLESS you are unwilling to fix it when corrected.
And hey, I have trans friends that even I get their pronouns wrong. Talking about them with other people and those people often laugh because I will freely swap between him and her when refering to them. Its a difficult thing to adjust too, for most people, and I dont think anyone has the right to judge on that. Wed all do much better, and this is on multiple subjects, if we took the time to explain with calm words rather then jump to ASSUMPTIONS that people meant offense or that they know better.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2013, 12:49:48 AM »
Ephiral, you scare me and it's got nothing to do with your gender choices.

I'm sorry. I'll bow out here. I... did not intend to come across this way.

Offline Ack Arg

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2013, 01:43:14 AM »

1) Group guilt can go jump in a lake.

2) "They" is usually fine, even if you're in a situation where gender neutral bathrooms are standard.

3) We have a word for people that insist on being able to define their own reality: solipsists. If you agree to play a game of chess and they say your pawns can move backwards you don't play chess with them.


There are much better things to get political about than personal pronouns.

Hey look, I said things briefly. That was fun.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2013, 03:13:08 AM »
I'm writing this because I sorta hope somebody will convince me that there is a deeper reason, beyond social courtesy and good will, for adhering to the notion of gender as an entirely private creation.

Given the amount of crap that transgender and transsexual people get even from the most progressive parts of our political spectrum, it's pretty safe to assume that it's not something people would subject themselves to for the proverbial shits and giggles. Since it's very unlikely that social courtesy and good will are being asked for frivolously*, I'm not sure why they wouldn't be motivator enough.

I understand your confusion: every generation has its blind spots, points in the struggle for progress that even its most progressive members have a hard time going beyond, for the simple reason that their life experience hasn't equipped them to process certain questions. The generation that ended slavery (in its original form) in the States wasn't equipped to think about also giving up racism. The generation that ended segregation and drove racialism into disrepute was for the most part not ready to think seriously about gay marriage or gay rights. Now that we've reached a real sea change in mainstream attitudes toward gays, many of us have difficulty processing that there's a whole other category of people pushing for rights and recognition whose existence we were barely aware of, if at all, during our childhoods.

So, it's natural to be confused. Sooner or later, most people hit that mental wall. The best way to deal with that confusion is to think certain things through. The step of extending the basic courtesy to another person to call them as they would like to be called is probably the most basic form of recognition there is. If it was wrong for society in the past to deny that respect to nonwhites, to women, to gays, and so on... then what real argument is there to deny it to transgendered and transsexual people? There isn't one, except for the reflex of confusion. Except for fear.

(* I don't pretend to know much about the medical or psychiatric literature on the topic, but I wouldn't be surprised to find something like gender dysmorphia or gender identity disorder is in the DSM-IV by now.)
« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 03:21:11 AM by Cyrano Johnson »

Offline CupidCattTopic starter

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2013, 03:22:46 AM »
I appreciate that, but is it in fact all I can do?

I have no difficulty using an alternative gender pronoun if it's explained to me that the individual wants that (of course not... I think we should respect people's decisions to be called whatever they like so long as it isn't offensive).

However - does my doing so devalue a belief in male and female as gender absolutes? And if it does, how do I feel about that...

Therein lies my struggle I think. And maybe it's a good thing I got told off by somebody for misusing pronouns, cos it's a good question to ask myself, and an interesting journey into what I really believe about biological sex, gender identity and sexual expression.

Offline Koren

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2013, 03:25:10 AM »
Okay I think I get where you are coming from here
One thing you can always do is to depersonalise it. I mean (and this is going to be a rough shitty example) but does having a spectrum of greys make white and blank any less white and black? It doesnt it just means there is something in between.

I hope that made sense

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2013, 03:26:49 AM »
However - does my doing so devalue a belief in male and female as gender absolutes?

This reminds me of the belief that recognizing gay marriage would threaten belief in "marriage between a man and a woman." For people who are genuinely at home in the skin they're in, why would it even be necessary that there be a belief in those genders as "absolutes"? All such a belief could really accomplish would be to harm people who cannot inhabit the absolutes.

Offline CupidCattTopic starter

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2013, 03:28:03 AM »
I guess I'm not talking about belief as such, I'm talking about objective reality.

I have a feeling that you would dispute the objective reality of "absolute gender" - I'm not so sure.

Offline Dim Hon

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2013, 03:29:23 AM »
I'd always known that some people use alternative pronouns to express their non-normative sexuality

No. Pronouns has nothing to do with sexuality. It has to do with gender.

Sexuality concerns who you are sexually attracted to. Gender has to do with your mental sex.

I don't have a problem with it, because I respect our individual rights to self-identify any way we like. But I also think that at the end of the day, it's me being courteous - I don't think I have a duty to adhere to somebody's claims that they are hir, hym or shm etc.

How much do you like to be referred to as "him" or "it"? How is it anything but ignorant to do so? 

I'm writing this because I sorta hope somebody will convince me that there is a deeper reason, beyond social courtesy and good will, for adhering to the notion of gender as an entirely private creation. Because the gender binary of male and female is a massive part of my identity, and I see it everywhere I look. It is reality. And I don't think having 'third' genders diminishes that... but I don't like being compelled, under the threat of seeming insensitive or bigoted, to play along with somebody's fantasy. Especially if that person is claiming it is a fully fledged reality and I need to "get on board, or else". (This comes in reaction to a few heated PMs I had with a certain somebody, btw).

If you received any hateful PMs from members of this site, you should let a S-level mod know about it.

As for third gendered people not being part of reality? Wow. No. We exist. We are not unicorns. We are ignored or mocked by almost every media source. Here is a wikipedia article that shows we have been around for a long ass time. We have been a part of reality longer than most religions have been alive. How much more "real" do we have to be?

 

Offline Koren

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2013, 03:32:38 AM »
^ Told you I said it crappy haha. Dims much better at explaining this sort of stuff and much neater and in much less words then me.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2013, 03:35:29 AM »
I have a feeling that you would dispute the objective reality of "absolute gender" - I'm not so sure.

There are indisputably cultural interpretations of gender that only recognize two genders, and thought they were describing "objective reality." Many of us grew up with them. But it is always perfectly possible for such constructs to be completely wrong, just as the constructs that once believed they were "objectively describing" something called "race" were just totally wrong. I think it's already pretty clear that "absolute gender" in the sense you mean it is headed for the same fate.

Offline CupidCattTopic starter

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2013, 03:35:58 AM »
OK, but who is "we"? Cos that Wiki article refers to a concept of gender expression that is very much local to the Western world, late 20th/early 21st century world view. It is synthesizing various local expressions and kind of lumps them together into one basket. I don't know how convincing that is when discussing something so basic as the a third gender, outside of procreative male and female.

I do appreciate the social need for expressing genders outside of male and female for people who don't feel part of either of those... and if it's being more honest about who you are, that can't be anything but good. Does that invalidate the basic duality of male and female? I dunno.

Offline CupidCattTopic starter

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #21 on: March 10, 2013, 03:38:25 AM »
There are indisputably cultural interpretations of gender that only recognize two genders, and thought they were describing "objective reality." Many of us grew up with them. But it is always perfectly possible for such constructs to be completely wrong, just as the constructs that once believed they were "objectively describing" something called "race" were just totally wrong. I think it's already pretty clear that "absolute gender" in the sense you mean it is headed for the same fate.

I'm not so sure. I mean, we're having this conversation in a context that exists in a relatively limited environment. Most people on the face of this planet are not exploring gender in this way (culturally speaking anyway) - I think it's fairly local to Western cultures, at least in terms of gender being subjective, not necessarily related to any biological reality, and disconnected from larger societal concerns.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #22 on: March 10, 2013, 03:39:41 AM »
Does that invalidate the basic duality of male and female? I dunno.

Why would it? Is someone demanding that nobody think of or refer to themselves as male and female? That this duality doesn't get to comprise the entirety of gender doesn't mean it would be nonexistent or somehow threatened. It's not like if we use alternative gender pronouns, 90% of the planet is going to wake up tomorrow and demand gender reassignment surgery.

Offline CupidCattTopic starter

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #23 on: March 10, 2013, 03:42:19 AM »
Why would it? Is someone demanding that nobody think of or refer to themselves as male and female? That this duality doesn't get to comprise the entirety of gender doesn't mean it would be nonexistent or somehow threatened. It's not like if we use alternative gender pronouns, 90% of the planet is going to wake up tomorrow and demand gender reassignment surgery.

It's a bit destabilizing. Because then the integrity of male and female as these somehow immutable realities ceases to be... real. And that changes things. Maybe for the better, sure, but it's disingenuous to say nothing substantial will be different. Also I think referencing this to the race issue is a bit off the mark.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns
« Reply #24 on: March 10, 2013, 03:45:11 AM »
Most people on the face of this planet are not exploring gender in this way (culturally speaking anyway)

Gay marriage and women's rights are hardly popular with the majority of the planet yet, either. I wouldn't necessarily take that as an excuse to code either gay or trans-rights as being somehow a frivolous Western concern. They're at the stage they are where many of us live because of specific historical battles that have been fought, that haven't necessarily happened elsewhere.

Quote
not necessarily related to any biological reality, and disconnected from larger societal concerns.

Mental health is a biological reality, and anything affecting some part of a society is a larger societal concern.

I think you're kind of making excuses here. Maybe a good first step is to do some introspection about what really has you this uncomfortable with the whole subject.