The Cisgender Introduction

The Cisgender Introduction

Cisgender folks, when you introduce yourself to someone new in a social setting, I suggest sharing your pronouns.

 

“Hi, I’m Galia – I use she/her pronouns. It’s nice to meet you!”

 

This opens the conversation up for other people to share their pronouns with you.

Why is this important? Well, someone might have pronouns other than the ones you’d guess from looking at them, but not feel safe or comfortable sharing those pronouns out of the blue. That means that they’re stuck getting misgendered in that context indefinitely, until they feel safe essentially saying “hi, you’ve been using the wrong pronouns for me this whole time,” which can be really hard to do. By sharing your pronouns, that means you’re saying “I am not going to make an assumption about your gender, and I welcome you sharing information with me if you want to.”

 

If someone is closeted and not out as trans, or feels uncomfortable sharing their gender identity with you, there’s no obligation for them to share their pronouns in reciprocation. I prefer the “these are my pronouns” method of opening that door as opposed to saying, “Hi, I’m Galia – what are your pronouns?” method, because that’s a social demand for information. Most people *will* want to share their pronouns with you in that circumstance, but a few people might feel pressure to provide information they’re not ready to share.

 

Note: this is very context specific. I have found that it’s entirely socially appropriate to say to someone you’ve been chatting with, “oh hey, so I don’t make a mistake – what are your pronouns?” Especially if everyone in the group is also sharing in that way. Something you want to avoid, though, is not asking anyone for their pronouns *except* for the obviously gender non-conforming person in the room. If you let everyone in a social group just share their name, but you press a person who looks gender non-conforming for their pronouns, you’re saying two things. You’re saying, “ha HA, I’ve copped you as the trans person – let me show off how trans aware I am by pointing out that I’ve seen your gender expression as atypical,” and you’re saying, “the only people who get to have trans identities are the ones who looks trans to me.” You’re negating the possibility of trans people who don’t stand out to you as trans.

 

Put your pronouns in introductions on threads. Put them in bios in programs and booklets. Put them in your email signature. Don’t put the onus on trans folks to normalize sharing pronouns and remind everyone that their pronouns need to be respected. Point our your own pronouns – it’s not weird to share them.

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