Why Genderfluid Pronouns Matter
Long before I recognized or even thought to inquire about my own queerness, I was a fan of queerness in the abstract. I remember my dad got knee surgery c. 2011, and as he healed from an unexpectedly glamorous suite at Cedars Sinai that literally looked out onto the Chateau Marmont, I read him copious articles on none other than the transgender experience.
I was fascinated. I was hooked. I was a super fan. I thought…how incredible, to know that some people may stop loving you if you do this thing for yourself, but you will fundamentally become more of yourself, a deeper, fuller version of yourself…and wouldn’t that be majestic? How holy, how bold, to risk losing affirmation from others and gain a well of deep magical ink within yourself, with which you can write your entire life story?
A trans* person realizing they are trans* and going through with it was an experience tantamount in my mind to buying a magic carpet. It was the ultimate entrepreneur. You were not only finding yourself, but creating yourself. It was theatre, it was sorcery, it was art.
Cut to a few years later. To absolutely no one’s surprise except my own, I realized that I myself was queer. I was always and still am comfortable presenting as quite feminine, but my appreciation for androgyny and gender bending lent itself to exploration and open-mindedness in finding quite gender-neutral lovers and friends. It was a community I had admired from afar. I felt honored, and slightly intimidated, to be drawn closer and welcomed by this community on a level so close we could see each other’s freckles.
I dated people that were queer and trans*, and I grew more familiar with the malleability of pronouns and the nuance and fluidity which which we present ourselves. After all…isn’t it normal to grow and change?
Then, the genderqueer movement exploded. People started buzzing…Isn’t it strange? How can you use “them” as a singular pronoun? It’s not grammatically correct! It’s confusing. I’m old…I can’t learn new pronouns now.
Ok. Let’s unpack these thoughts.
- If it helps someone find their truest self and identity to be referred to by a gender-neutral pronoun, YOU CAN LEARN A NEW PRONOUN.
- It’s not a new pronoun. You already know it and love it. “They/them.” We’re not talking about terraform cryptobiosis.
- Grammar: As a writer by trade, I can tell you this. Not ever, in grade school, in university, or beyond, has anyone cared so much about grammar. All of a sudden, everyone cares about grammar? This is what oppressors have done, wittingly and unwittingly, throughout history. It is arguably the oldest trick in the book of systemic oppression: to pick a red herring and diminish the point by mentioning something negligible and only marginally related to the important topic at hand.
In fact, I would venture to say, as a professional editor and self-professed grammar snob, that I am not only ok with stretching boundaries of singular/plural pronouns to make way for new ideas of gender expression…I am inspired by it.
After all, what is language but a mode of reflecting society, and even challenging it? We are meant to communicate for the purpose of survival, yes, but also evolution…which can also be thought of as progress.
Language is not a given but a tool. Language is something we created, and all communities and categories are imagined. It is our duty as humans to push and change and grow. To heal each other. To heal the world. Whether you are spiritual or not, if you wonder for five seconds about why we exist, it becomes clear that life is about something related to kindness, tenderness, love, strength, affection. Life is about learning. Life is about kissing. Life is about holding hands. These are activities that anyone, of any gender, can enjoy.
Challenging what we learned warehoused in grammar classes and saying, “Ok, I get it, but there’s this really big exciting thing to consider that might change everything,” is what artists and thinkers have done throughout history. It’s what Picasso did to Goya. It’s what Hegel did to Aristotle. It’s what Jordan Peele did to Hitchcock.
We have to push envelopes open.
We have to push minds open.
We have to push hearts open.
Genderqueer and trans* people are forever my inspiration.
They are living poetry - embracing the surreal and sacrificing normality to serve as human vessels and portals into a land that doesn’t exist yet, but that we all know is possible.
I salute you, not only as a person, but as an artist.