He / They

Lately, I’ve been wondering if my correct pronouns should be “he/they,” rather than just “he”. I have personal reasons for thinking it may be, but I’m wrestling with the social aspects of it.

If I publicly change my pronouns, I want it to be an act that can help. I want to be a good ally and accomplice to trans folk. I want to do what I can (even if ever so little) to increase acceptance of trans identities.

I believe the most important task we have in pursuit of trans rights, women’s rights, and even men’s rights, is to reject toxic masculinity. “He/they” is such a rejection and undermines the primacy of what we think of as “male.”

If more people like me—commonly perceived to be cisgender male—embraced “they” as a pronoun for ourselves, would it help? Can we make a wider range of identities more acceptable in our communities and our society this way? Maybe I can help normalize “they.”

I believe that gender is fluid and exists on a spectrum. I believe most of us exist as a mix of possible gender characteristics. I believe strict cisgender roles are artificial. If I were to make the public statement that, no, actually even someone like me exists to some degree on a fluid spectrum, that statement could be an effective way to question our preconceived notions of gender.

However, I’m not sure I have the right to take on this identity. I do not, under any circumstance, want to be yet another cis person appropriating trans identity for performative wokeness.

I can’t tell if making this change would be appropriate allyship or just appropriation.

3 thoughts on “He / They

  1. Huh… I’m not sure if cis people can use they pronouns. I figured it was just for nonbinary folk (I would probably assume someone was nonbinary if they had they pronouns in their profile). I have heard people say that pronouns are just whatever you want to be called and not necessarily connected to gender, though. As long as you wouldn’t mind someone using they pronouns for you, I think it would be okay. 🙂

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    1. Honestly, if were just a question of my personal identity, I’m fine with all of it. My concern is to make sure my actions help others. On that front, I don’t know if publicly embracing “they” as a pronoun for myself would help or harm.

      One thing I want to normalize is the idea that gender identity isn’t just one thing or another. I don’t think most people are just cis, or just trans, or just nonbinary. We can be combinations, we can slip between and across these identities.

      I’m mostly cis but not completely. If I had to put numbers to my identity, I’d say I’m 80% cis and 20% not cis. I don’t identify as trans and I’ve never identified as a woman. I haven’t explored nonbinary as an identity, so I don’t know if that that fits for me. But I’m not fully cis.

      I don’t know if using “he/they” accurately portrays that to others, or if it helps other people to feel comfortable with the idea.

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      1. In that case, I think that would be appropriate if you’re a bit nonbinary but more male-aligned to use he/they. 🙂
        I don’t really agree with adopting LGBT identities as a political statement, but if they’re accurate, even a little bit, go for it! It really is a spectrum.

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