what's the deal with the /they
9 min read

what's the deal with the /they

when i came out as bisexual almost a decade ago, i felt other people's need for me to be one thing or the other. to be straight or gay. to fit one of the boxes that "made sense" to them. i took heat from lesbians and straights alike.

while queerness feels like it is understood more expansively now, even by straight people, we have a long way to go in our societal understanding of gender.

gender is not biological sex

gender is not tied to biological sex and biological sex is way more complicated than any of us have been taught.

"Nearly everyone in middle school biology learned that if you’ve got XX chromosomes, you’re a female; if you’ve got XY, you’re a male. This tired simplification is great for teaching the importance of chromosomes but betrays the true nature of biological sex. The popular belief that your sex arises only from your chromosomal makeup is wrong. The truth is, your biological sex isn’t carved in stone, but a living system with the potential for change. Why? Because biological sex is far more complicated than XX or XY (or XXY, or just X)."
Stop Using Phony Science to Justify Transphobia
Actual research shows that sex is anything but binary

alright, so if it's not a binary...

here's a primer from Alok Vaid-Menon.

Gender Isn’t Binary - Alok Vaid-Menon - GIPHY Clips
Alyson Stoner and Alok Vaid-Menon have an illuminating conversation on gender, society, and the human experience. “Beauty and gender are infinite. They’re more like stories than they are words”. -ALOK

"But in truth, we are more than our bodies. Our genders are more than bodies. In fact, being trans is not at all determined by our bodies...Regardless of where our genitals or other physical/bodily characteristics fall on the spectrum of human variation, we are peoples of many different genders."
Our Genders Are More Than Our Bodies: Affirming Trans Identity Beyond Appearance
Being trans is not at all determined by our bodies. Our genders are not determined by our bodies or body parts. Even as knowledge on trans identities and trans folks becomes more widespread and accessible, a perilous hyperfixation on trans […]

...okay but what about pronouns

everybody gets to decide their own pronouns. it's really as simple as that.

for the "but grammar has rules" folks that don't want to use a singular they...

we constantly co-create language and its only purpose is to help us be understood. we create the rules of language and they can and should be shifted.

for a lot of people, mixed pronouns (ex: they/he, she/they) are confusing.  here's some quick explainers that i find useful.

so why did i change my pronouns?

i often think about a speech by Janet Mock that contains the following lines:

“But a movement – a movement is so much more than a march.

A movement is that difficult space between our reality and our vision

Our liberation depends on all of us, all of us returning to our homes and using this experience and all the experiences that have shaped us to act, to organize, to resist

initially, i misheard her and thought Janet said “liminal space.” the word liminal got stuck between my teeth. i used my tongue to work at it. liminal. i looked it up to see how others defined it, to immerse myself in its meaning, to see how it could be most useful to me.

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