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Author Topic: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot  (Read 3923 times)

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Offline Ephiral

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #25 on: March 19, 2013, 02:50:14 AM »
Yeah, I don't think anyone here is arguing from a position of "Gender is just a social construct/doesn't really exist/can be changed on a whim". That's something that I would actually oppose as profoundly harmful to trans* interests, in exactly the way that "Sexuality is a choice!" is harmful to LGB interests. It's more a matter of relevance - someone's gender rarely actually matters when you're talking about them, so why do we have only a minefield of binary-gendered terms, and why should anything that doesn't denote gender be applied only to trans* people?

Offline Shadow879

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #26 on: March 19, 2013, 03:03:11 AM »
Yeah, I don't think anyone here is arguing from a position of "Gender is just a social construct/doesn't really exist/can be changed on a whim". That's something that I would actually oppose as profoundly harmful to trans* interests, in exactly the way that "Sexuality is a choice!" is harmful to LGB interests. It's more a matter of relevance - someone's gender rarely actually matters when you're talking about them, so why do we have only a minefield of binary-gendered terms, and why should anything that doesn't denote gender be applied only to trans* people?

We have said minefield simply because the English language was created when a gender other than male or female was not accepted or understood or acknowledged to exist.

True, gender rarely actually matters when you are talking about someone, but gender is so deeply ingrained into society, and indeed in our language, that it would take a restructuring of English grammar and many generations before applying an agender pronoun except when referring specifically to someone's sex/gender would sink in.

There is no reason anything that doesn't denote gender be applied only to trans people. It should be applied to whosoever desires it to be applied to them. I prefer to be called she, I'm transitioning. If I preferred ey/em/eir pronouns, then they should be applied to me.

An inherent problem with agender speech is that it is a foreign concept to many people. Indeed, I had never even heard of someone being called by something other than he or she until I came onto the Liege board briefly :D And because it's a very small minority that desires to be referred to without gender involved, it won't get much attention until it becomes a bigger issue. I foresee someone making a lawsuit out of it.

Then it might get the attention it deserves.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2013, 03:05:21 AM by Shadow879 »

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #27 on: March 19, 2013, 03:14:57 AM »
I suppose on a talk and grammar level, having two gender pronouns as opposed to just one makes it more supple when one is speaking about something involving two or more people. "He told her that she could see her brother that night" - compare "Ey told ey that ey could see hir brother that night", all the referencing becomes akin to grey cats in the dark.  ;) If you don't wish to push their names up again and again, having gendered pronouns really makes it smoother in that kind of common sentence situation. But with a three-gendered approach - as against a single-pronoun one - you keep those options anyway.

"Gender doesn't exist" or it's just an arbitrary social construct or even oppressive as such - that's something that's been considered a cash-in-cool-points thing to say or argue for some time where I live, an ideological pick-up line. I've come to be suspicious of people who claim that gender and sex "bah, never really matter" - very often that kind of talk is a way of hiding that gender does matter very much in the present-day world, and on the level of how people present themselves, make a living, fall in love etc, it sometimes matters *more* now than it did forty years ago. Contemporary culture, politics, the tone of the media and so on have become more gendered in some ways. I agree with you Ephiral that rights and options should not be hardwired to gender, that people should not be pushed or coerced to have to bring their gender to the front all the time to make their case, but that's not the same as saying gender is evil or crappy on a personal level.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2013, 03:23:10 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Ack Arg

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #28 on: March 19, 2013, 03:19:37 AM »
Using alternative pronouns is a respectful thing to do if the person requests it and I'm happy to do that.  I don't mind being asked to change if I use the wrong one but I do like patience with the fact that I may not know or remember what is wanted so help is appreciated.  Like Oniya I'll avoid use of pronouns if I can't figure it out.

I don't see any need to debate the issue. 


1) Well, if you happen to think gender or sex confusion is something like a white guy deciding he's really a black guy then you don't see much need for debate either.

2) Replace Ze's and Per's or whatever with jargon from another subculture: furries, fans of japanese cartoons or economists. I expect you'll find something you wouldn't tolerate in daily speech soon enough.

3) Respect, meaning good manners not esteem, is something we have with flatulent strangers on the bus and those McDonalds employees eager to serve our children their horsemeat happy meals. It's rude to treat your friends with "respect."



Now, I think the point of accepting people that are "mentally" transgendered as something besides crazy is about saying reality is a mess and that's okay. If your first step in doing that is to invent a whole new pile of categories and terms then you're not really embracing ambiguity. You're just making new categories people don't fit into and don't want to fit into.

No one wants to be gay. They want to be a citizen, friend, neighbour... that is also, among other things, gay (and a fair golfer besides.)

If you're going to tell me about Cis... whatever, the wacky word for heterosexuals... If you start in on that I'm going to write you off as a person. It's the same thing when I hear someone dismiss "Socrates and other white dude philosophers." I'm thrilled. Because you've written off Socrates I can now write you off.

Why?

Because you've become the bigot. I'm not Ack Arg, good golfer, always willing to help someone out, thinks girls are pretty... I'm now The Cis. Now I come with a handy label and the rest is just details.




As it happens there are plenty of problems with the language. They're typically problems about jargon and news programs and politicians that have mastered the art of saying nothing. There are whole industries devoted to corrupting words and softening minds in order to pick pockets. They're impersonal and have truly awful consequences and they're hard to combat.

I hardly know what to say to the idea that English is a gender biased language. We've got holdovers in old material like man and mankind, which is aesthetically nice and as far as I know causes no confusion about whether it refers to the species or to a population of men, not even in kids hearing it for the first time. We do refer to people that are generally men and women as men and women but that's about it.

Is French going to result in sexism... or whatever the Cis thing ism is, because sandwich is a masculine noun? I don't think that's a silly question, it's just the one that lacks the usual noise of political correctness. I'd like to credit people with being able to make distinctions without having them beaten into their heads. That's generous. I'm a generous guy. Maybe you aren't.

And English has plenty in it to cover gender nonspecific references. Mentioning a person by name comes to mind. Or by title. Or They. They isn't accepted by your English Teacher but everyone else is just fine with it. If you can't work your way around it or are afraid to do so without the permission of the grammar police so be it.



We don't need to bring gender into discussions where it doesn't really matter in the first place, and removing it from this level of discussion can be a positive change. Let gender identity rest in conversations where it matters.

I have to disagree but I won't press the point.

We can get plenty of exercise on this idea of unilaterally butchering English to avoid offending a few people. People have the right not to be offended. Also to be isolated. Isolating vulnerable communities helps them protect themselves from violence, exploitation and mischaracterizations.

That's just the "Cis" talking though.




There is no reason anything that doesn't denote gender be applied only to trans people. It should be applied to whosoever desires it to be applied to them. I prefer to be called she, I'm transitioning. If I preferred ey/em/eir pronouns, then they should be applied to me.


Thing is, we don't actually get to be called things because we want to be called them. We can think of ourselves how we like but when we say what we think we're opening ourselves to the evaluations of others.

We can only associate with those that approve of and agree with our evaluations but I can't say it's especially healthy to do so.

Offline Top Cat

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #29 on: March 19, 2013, 03:30:19 AM »
Actually, gaggedLouise's point about making writing more awkward is a better point than anything else I've seen so far, with regard to opposing a move to a genderless pronoun system. She's right, it WOULD be far more onerous to keep referring to characters by name (even more than we already do!) in order to make it clear who is doing what.

That, alone, is enough to make me reconsider my stance here. I hadn't yet approached it from the perspective of trying to write in that mode - I'd like to think that I would have gotten there on my own eventually though. ;)

I may be a little oversensitive to "othering," or tribalism. Lord knows I've had enough of it in my lifetime, both directed at me and at people around me.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #30 on: March 19, 2013, 03:33:44 AM »
*smiles* Just Louise, please? (and always 'her' for me, dear)

Offline Top Cat

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #31 on: March 19, 2013, 03:35:39 AM »
As you wish, Milady. *bows*

Offline Shadow879

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #32 on: March 19, 2013, 03:38:53 AM »
While I'm far too tired to respond to all the points in Ack Args post, I'll acknowledge that he has some good points and some that I don't agree with.

I will respond to the point dealing with my post though.

Thing is, we don't actually get to be called things because we want to be called them. We can think of ourselves how we like but when we say what we think we're opening ourselves to the evaluations of others.

We can only associate with those that approve of and agree with our evaluations but I can't say it's especially healthy to do so.

I said should, not would. Yes, we're always opening ourselves to the evaluations of others, but that doesn't make their evaluation correct. I noticed your post seemed a little condescending and defensive, no one was saying "Cis's are evil and intolerant." And I say that as an inference, i suppose, I know you didn't actually say that in your post. It just seemed like you had some undertones of that, which is perfectly understandable. It's a label. if I misinterpreted I apologize :D

I still get called 'he" by my family. Because I am still hiding my transition from them. Not anywhere even remotely CLOSE to being full time.

I don't see where it's unhealthy to associate with those who call you by what you wanted to be called. I have an idea of where you were going with that, but I'd like to hear what you have to say without making assumptions.

I'd like to credit people with being able to make distinctions without having them beaten into their heads.

Experience, in my case, has proven otherwise.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2013, 03:40:01 AM by Shadow879 »

Offline Top Cat

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #33 on: March 19, 2013, 03:40:32 AM »
I don't see where it's unhealthy to associate with those who call you by what you wanted to be called.
This could probably be simplified to, "I don't see where it's unhealthy to associate with those who respect you."

Offline Shadow879

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #34 on: March 19, 2013, 03:44:08 AM »
This could probably be simplified to, "I don't see where it's unhealthy to associate with those who respect you."

Surely. *smiles*

I'm posting quickly and not paying as much attention to that because by the time I come up with a post the way I want it to be, the conversation has passed me by.

I was also restating his point, in a sense.

And he made a point about respect in the beginning of his post, so I felt it would not have gone the direction I wanted it to :)

Offline BlytheTopic starter

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #35 on: March 19, 2013, 03:56:40 AM »
If you're going to tell me about Cis... whatever, the wacky word for heterosexuals... If you start in on that I'm going to write you off as a person. It's the same thing when I hear someone dismiss "Socrates and other white dude philosophers." I'm thrilled. Because you've written off Socrates I can now write you off.

Um...you do realize that "cisgendered" is just a term that references people who's biological gender matches the gender they understand themselves to be. It's the opposite term of "transgender." You can be homosexual and be cisgendered. Aside from that, I understand what you're saying about labels.

And English has plenty in it to cover gender nonspecific references. Mentioning a person by name comes to mind. Or by title. Or They. They isn't accepted by your English Teacher but everyone else is just fine with it. If you can't work your way around it or are afraid to do so without the permission of the grammar police so be it.

The Spivak variety of pronouns are just a singular version of the plural pronoun "they." The reason I liked them was because of the distinction between singular and plural, which can be tricky to write if you only use the plural form when trying to single out someone from a group. Makes it hard to know who you're referencing.

I do agree about name and title. I usually default to those if unsure of or can't recall someone's gender.


I'd respond to more of your post, Ack Arg, but you're a little hard for me to follow. My apologies if I've misinterpreted anything in your post.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2013, 04:21:23 AM by Blythe »

Offline Ack Arg

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #36 on: March 19, 2013, 05:00:09 AM »
I don't see where it's unhealthy to associate with those who call you by what you wanted to be called. I have an idea of where you were going with that, but I'd like to hear what you have to say without making assumptions.

This could probably be simplified to, "I don't see where it's unhealthy to associate with those who respect you."

I don't think you need me to point out the flip side of this: if your friends are the people that give you a free pass on things then it's really goddamned unhealthy. You could believe in magic spells or in racial genocide. Or just being an ass in public. Do I need to lay this one out?



Blythe:
My point about the Cisgender bit is two fold. One is that it's a practical political disaster. People will look at you as if you're from mars and with good reason. Two is that bit about ambiguity. Cis refers to gender matching sex in an individual... well you can leave out the bit about gender. It's not about gender, except as a substitute for a soul, that magical more you than you thing behind your eyes. So let's drop that.

"Cisgender are the people that aren't especially interested in being or being treated as the opposite sex."

If you had a similar word for people that "Are not especially black, don't identify as black and don't involve themselves in the concerns of the black community" then we'd more clearly see the problem:

Again, the point of admitting there's something besides male and female, even beyond just transitioning between the two categories is that sex is ambiguous and sex roles are ambiguous. That's good. That's a mess. Messes are fun. Why add jargon?

As for the difficulty with pronouns... well it happens that you don't really solve anything by adding extra ones. No matter who or what you talk about using pronouns you always have to rerefer to the subject every so often, even when you haven't changed subjects. We have no trouble distinguishing between plural they and singular they, we have trouble distinguishing between any two things being referred to by the same pronouns.

The argument for the pronouns doesn't seem to root in the difficulty of writing about transexual people at all. The difficulty seems to come up when someone insists on transexual people needing a special category, sets of rules and jargon so they they won't feel offended.

(I'm betting the offended are a minority within a minority, so I'm not too concerned about the offense angle.)



Let's try looking at this another way shall we?

If you're playing fast and loose with the roles and forms of male and female, wouldn't you expect a little confusion? Is the point of diversity in a free society for everyone to be categorized or is it to let people be people so they can get on with the really important stuff like killing each other over scores in baseball?

The pronouns routine really does seem to ruin the fun. Wouldn't it even be worth considering leaving it in a state of "I don't know?"



Offline Shadow879

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #37 on: March 19, 2013, 06:09:20 AM »
I don't think you need me to point out the flip side of this: if your friends are the people that give you a free pass on things then it's really goddamned unhealthy. You could believe in magic spells or in racial genocide. Or just being an ass in public. Do I need to lay this one out?

So what you're telling me is that hanging out with people who accept me for who I am and call me "she" as I ask them to instead of saying, "No, you're a boy, because you have a penis" even though I am transitioning to female is unhealthy?  It's not a "free pass," it's acceptance, and decency. I interpreted your statement as implying that my transitioning to female is just a fantasy. I understand you are not applying the statement to just me, but I am replying as it pertains to me.  Believing in magic spells is a fantasy, and yes, it would be unhealthy for someone to continue to be told "Yes, magic is real." Even though it is not. However, your friends applying the correct pronoun to your chosen gender (or lack thereof, if that's your thing), is not unhealthy, in fact it is a healthy friendship with people who are accepting and supportive of you.

Cis refers to gender matching sex in an individual... well you can leave out the bit about gender. It's not about gender, except as a substitute for a soul, that magical more you than you thing behind your eyes. So let's drop that.

"Cisgender are the people that aren't especially interested in being or being treated as the opposite sex."

You can't "leave out the bit about gender." It doesn't work that way. Cisgender refers to the gender you feel you are matching your physical sex. "I am a man/woman and I like being a man/woman, and have no desire to be anything different."



The argument for the pronouns doesn't seem to root in the difficulty of writing about transexual people at all. The difficulty seems to come up when someone insists on transexual people needing a special category, sets of rules and jargon so they they won't feel offended.

I do believe the discussion on alternative pronouns was aimed at people who don't fit in the box in that way. Transsexuals/transgender people generally choose one binary gender or the other and prefer "he" or "she".

This was about all the in-between people that don't quite fit in one place.



The pronouns routine really does seem to ruin the fun. Wouldn't it even be worth considering leaving it in a state of "I don't know?"

Why would you leave it in a state of "I don't know?" I don't follow the logic.




Your whole argument seems to be against the pronouns, and while I can follow that the addition of a lot of pronouns complicates things, certain nouns do simplify things, such as cisgender.  Instead of having to spell out "Those who are comfortable with their birth sex and gender," it's easier to just say cisgender.

Why add jargon? Representation.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #38 on: March 19, 2013, 06:17:03 AM »
Read on another forum a few days ago:

"The correct word for a woman with a cock is......woman."

*joins hands with Shadow*

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2013, 08:11:37 AM »
This strikes me as a wonderful idea that is completely impractical at this time.

All the best ideas are ^_^

Still, it seems at least as far-fetched as people as a whole accepting us for who we are. And I take some comfort from being in a field where everyone is rushing to exchange their gendered titles of Mr., Miss, Ms., Mrs.  for the genderless title of Doctor, which to me shows the viability of such a transition.

Offline ofDelusions

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #40 on: March 19, 2013, 08:20:10 AM »
I suppose on a talk and grammar level, having two gender pronouns as opposed to just one makes it more supple when one is speaking about something involving two or more people. "He told her that she could see her brother that night" - compare "Ey told ey that ey could see hir brother that night", all the referencing becomes akin to grey cats in the dark.  ;) If you don't wish to push their names up again and again, having gendered pronouns really makes it smoother in that kind of common sentence situation. But with a three-gendered approach - as against a single-pronoun one - you keep those options anyway.


Can't talk about other languages without gender pronouns but that really isn't an issue in Finnish language. Atleast you start translating Finnish text to English if the gender isn't mentioned...

For example the sentence: "He told her that she could see her brother that night" would become something like: "Hän kertoi tälle että tämä voisi nähdä veljeään sinä iltana." At no point in the translated sentence is there problem in telling the persons apart.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #41 on: March 19, 2013, 08:51:25 AM »
Can't talk about other languages without gender pronouns but that really isn't an issue in Finnish language. Atleast you start translating Finnish text to English if the gender isn't mentioned...

For example the sentence: "He told her that she could see her brother that night" would become something like: "Hän kertoi tälle että tämä voisi nähdä veljeään sinä iltana." At no point in the translated sentence is there problem in telling the persons apart.

True - but isn't that because Finnish has such a rich assortment of cases for verbs, and the regulated endings for case forms will show how the verb relates to the person words around that verb. Most western European - Germanic and Romance - languages have dropped a lot of their case system, except Spanish and Portuguese, so in most of them you can't really decipher a lot of the sense of a sentence on case endings.

In French, too, it's quite easy to avoid indicating the bio gender of someone you're talking about, because the pronoun on ('one', 3d pers singular) and its object form lui (/to, for/ him, her) can stand in for pretty much any person/s involved in a sentence, even an animal - and the verb endings in 3d person sg are mostly not heard to be distinct from other persons. So if you're speaking, and sometimes in writing too, it's easy to sneak off giving any gender information.

Sometimes that way of doing it in French can create confusion though, not so much about gender but on *who* you are talking about with that 'on'.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2013, 09:16:05 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #42 on: March 19, 2013, 10:19:44 AM »
On my phone, and most of this seems in good hands, so I'll limit myself to a few points I haven't seen addressed.
Blythe:
My point about the Cisgender bit is two fold. One is that it's a practical political disaster. People will look at you as if you're from mars and with good reason. Two is that bit about ambiguity. Cis refers to gender matching sex in an individual... well you can leave out the bit about gender. It's not about gender, except as a substitute for a soul, that magical more you than you thing behind your eyes. So let's drop that.

If you had a similar word for people that "Are not especially black, don't identify as black and don't involve themselves in the concerns of the black community" then we'd more clearly see the problem:
Point the first: Hi. I'm a genderfluid hard-line atheist.  I don't really understand what you mean by "soul". When I refer to myself as fluid or you as cis, I'm talking about what's going on in our brains. I don't think you even understand the terms you're disparaging, and it's certainly not due to lack of outreach.

Point the second: We do. The word is "white". Are you going to argue that combating racism is a bad idea and black people should be "isolated" so they don't bother the rest of us? Or does this show you the fundamental problem with your position?

Offline Oniya

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #43 on: March 19, 2013, 11:39:47 AM »
Point the second: We do. The word is "white". Are you going to argue that combating racism is a bad idea and black people should be "isolated" so they don't bother the rest of us? Or does this show you the fundamental problem with your position?

Actually, the set of 'non-black individuals' consists of whites, Asians, Native Americans, Hispanics, etc.  It's just as non-homogenous as any set that derives its meaning solely from the absence of a particular factor. 

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #44 on: March 19, 2013, 11:46:22 AM »
Actually, the set of 'non-black individuals' consists of whites, Asians, Native Americans, Hispanics, etc.  It's just as non-homogenous as any set that derives its meaning solely from the absence of a particular factor.
Point taken. So this is just a really poor analogy.

Offline Oniya

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #45 on: March 19, 2013, 12:00:46 PM »
Yep.  ;)  You can define 'cis-gendered' without any reference to 'trans-gendered' by saying it's people who identify mentally with their physical gender.  However, the origin of the word itself is kind of esoteric in that most people who haven't studied chemistry wouldn't catch that cis- and trans- are opposites.  (I was lucky - my college roommate was a biology/chemistry double major.)  Unfortunately, the average reaction many people have to being called by an unfamiliar word is 'Did that person just insult me?'  Try telling someone that their mother is pulchritudinous, and you're likely to get a dirty look.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #46 on: March 19, 2013, 12:41:09 PM »
All right, back at a proper computer.
Again, the point of admitting there's something besides male and female, even beyond just transitioning between the two categories is that sex is ambiguous and sex roles are ambiguous. That's good. That's a mess. Messes are fun. Why add jargon?

As for the difficulty with pronouns... well it happens that you don't really solve anything by adding extra ones. No matter who or what you talk about using pronouns you always have to rerefer to the subject every so often, even when you haven't changed subjects. We have no trouble distinguishing between plural they and singular they, we have trouble distinguishing between any two things being referred to by the same pronouns.

The argument for the pronouns doesn't seem to root in the difficulty of writing about transexual people at all. The difficulty seems to come up when someone insists on transexual people needing a special category, sets of rules and jargon so they they won't feel offended.

(I'm betting the offended are a minority within a minority, so I'm not too concerned about the offense angle.)
This passage here is awfully revealing, Ack Arg... and it doesn't cast you in a very good light, I'm afraid. You're speaking from a position of massive privilege. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it's invisible to you; perhaps this is the first social justice issue you've ever seriously thought about.

It's not about fun. It's not about celebrating ambiguity. It's not about muddying the English language. It's not about being special. It's about real people, a large percentage of whom experience not just offense, but real psychological distress, at being trapped in the wrong body and perceived as something they're not. This hurts a number of people, and drives a terrifyingly high suicide rate among trans* people. And that's without getting into the outright violence that is enabled and occasionally condoned by a society fixed on binary gender. It's about letting these people have even a chance at going about their lives without constantly being made to feel other, less, unwelcome, and unsafe. And for the record, no, the offended are not a 'minority within a minority'. In my experience, I'm in the minority in that I only occasionally get mildly annoyed by being misgendered.

In fact, I'll go a step further - it's about not being special. It's about being able to feel the same comfort and confidence in one's identity, and in society's acceptance of that, that you so clearly take for granted every day. It's also a bit about raising visibility and understanding, so that maybe someday being trans* won't be a special case worthy of shunning, harassment, legal action, violence, and death. It's about trying to, as you so eloquently put it, just be people in a society that will actually allow that to happen.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #47 on: March 19, 2013, 12:53:20 PM »
I remember reading a thread at IMDB where Alicia Keys was blamed - by a dozen people, most of them Americans it seemed, and some likely black Americans - for "trying too hard to be black"...  ;D Very interesting kind of criticism. The supposed point was that she had no birthright or cultural right to act black in her music and the way she is in general, talking to the media and so on, and was overstating all of that, so she should wind it down.

At least it serves to show that someone who identifies with one end of a scale that's seen as binary by most people can also come under attack by the folks they want to connect with, wish to embrace or be seen as one with. For comparison, there are people who think Keith Jarrett isn't black enough as an artist. Actually he's about 40 or 50% black I think (data on that are kinda vague) but no one could deny that he comes out of jazz, that it's one primary root of who he is as a musician.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2013, 12:58:11 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Top Cat

Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #48 on: March 19, 2013, 01:56:01 PM »
I remember reading a thread at IMDB where Alicia Keys was blamed - by a dozen people, most of them Americans it seemed, and some likely black Americans - for "trying too hard to be black"...  ;D Very interesting kind of criticism. The supposed point was that she had no birthright or cultural right to act black in her music and the way she is in general, talking to the media and so on, and was overstating all of that, so she should wind it down.

At least it serves to show that someone who identifies with one end of a scale that's seen as binary by most people can also come under attack by the folks they want to connect with, wish to embrace or be seen as one with. For comparison, there are people who think Keith Jarrett isn't black enough as an artist. Actually he's about 40 or 50% black I think (data on that are kinda vague) but no one could deny that he comes out of jazz, that it's one primary root of who he is as a musician.
All of this speaks of tribalism, a "reptile brain" response. Either you're one of us, or you're not, hard lines drawn around one's own identity, to connect to those who are like you. There's naturally a stigma attached to those who are perceived (rightly or wrongly) to be pretending to be like you - it feels like deception, poorly executed. Alicia shouldn't be made to feel like an outsider for being black, being white, being female, or whatever box she chooses to put herself in... but there are those who insist on maintaining a "purity" in their racial/social identity associations. And "mutts" are often reviled by all sides, because they're not X enough to be my identity-type. Mulattos are often seen as not-black by black folks, and not-white by white folks, when they're actually both.

Keith Jarrett has it a little easier, because Jazz, as a culture, is inclusive, not exclusive. If you can lay down a jazz riff, you're a jazz musician. It doesn't matter if you're black, white, green, coffee-with-creamer brown, or anything else - as long as you sound right, you're in the box. His being authentically Jazz matters more than whether he's pure black or not - at least, to other Jazz musicians. For the black community as a whole, he may well receive some of the same negative reaction as Alicia... but if he only moves in Jazz circles and Jazz-respecting circles, it stops mattering as much.

The alternative gender pool is small enough, that it's much harder to move in social circles comprised entirely of people who are like you or respecting of your differences. You're almost forced to either hide your differences from most people, or brazenly flaunt it and force people to react. Neither is ideal.

Apologies for the semi-topical rambling. It seemed important when I started... Identity is the core of the entire discussion, after all.

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Re: Alternative Gender Pronouns: The Reboot
« Reply #49 on: March 19, 2013, 02:50:00 PM »
Right on the money, Top Cat. Just adding about Jarrett that when I was saying some people think he isn't black enough as an artist, I mostly meant they perceive him as being musically not black enough, not pure black or even "purely jazz", because of how he's moulded other traditions into his music: European folk music, classical piano, and of course his own brand of improvisation. But so what? Jazz has always been an inclusive crossover music - to some extent - and the encounter with European classical and folk music goes back at least to the time of Gershwin and Stravinsky (who composed a couple of ragtime pieces around 1920 and kept an eye on what was happening in jazz - and conversely lots of jazz musicians must have felt kicked by The Firebird and The Rite of Spring). And it's long since stopped being just "the music of black folks" too. I'd say Keith Jarrett unites strains of European and American music, black and white and latino, and that's part of what makes him so exciting. It's quite a symbolic fact that he was born on VE Day.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2013, 02:53:14 PM by gaggedLouise »