Their Gender is Not Your Choice

Their Gender is Not Your Choice

The importance of using correct pronouns.
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When someone tells you their personal gender pronoun, you don't get to disagree with them. Ever. A gender pronoun is not a preference nor a negotiation- but a word which represents an identity.

I am a cisgender female, which means I identify with the gender that corresponds to the sex that I was born with. I am biologically female, and my gender is female as well. I have never dealt with dysphoria or the hardships and difficulties of determining my gender identity. I certainly cannot speak for those who have fought to claim their gender in a world that misjudges gender and sexuality minorities.

However, I strongly believe that people in general are harshly undereducated about gender pronouns and the importance of their correct usage.

Let's start by covering a few basic definitions:

"A pronoun is a word that refers to either the people talking (like I or you) or someone or something that is being talked about (like she, it, them, and this). Gender pronouns (like he and hers) specifically refer to people that you are talking about," is the definition given by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Resource Center
In this article, I'll be frequently referring to personal gender pronouns . A personal gender pronoun is a pronoun a person uses to identify themselves.

Let's also remember that sex and gender are not interchangeable. "Sex includes physical attributes such as external genitalia, sex chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, and internal reproductive structures. At birth, it is used to assign sex, that is, to identify individuals as male or female. Gender on the other hand, is one’s internal sense of self as male, female, both or neither " - Gender Spectrum

Pronouns are derived from the gender that one identifies with. This includes Transgender, Gender Non-Binary, Gender Fluid, Bigender, Cisgender, Genderqueer, Gender Variant, and Gender Non-Conforming.

I recently received a message on Facebook from a young man who knew I am involved in the LGBTQ community and had questions about respecting gender identities. I thought it was wonderful to see someone reaching out for more information about a subject they were unfamiliar with.

He asked, "Do you think it's necessary to be referred to as or called that pronoun?"

I commended him for asking the question. I think this question reflects society as a whole being relatively undereducated about gender and are either afraid or unwilling to ask.

In response to the question...It is absolutely necessary to use someone's personal gender pronoun. It is not your choice or decision what to label someone's gender. Your decision is whether you respect or oppress them with your words. You cannot tell someone's gender simply by looking at them or assuming based on gender stereotypes. "It is a privilege to not have to worry about what pronoun someone is going to use for you based on how they perceive your gender. If you have this privilege, yet fail to respect someone else's gender identity, it is not only disrespectful and hurtful, but also oppressive. When someone is referred to by the wrong pronoun, it can make them feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated, or dysphoric." - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Resource Center

Assuming that someone is male because they appear masculine or female because they appear feminine is misguided. Masculinity and femininity are not gender exclusive. Do not let an individual's appearance and society's standards of gender norms define a person's gender for you. Nothing should define a person's gender but they themselves.

Intentionally calling someone by the wrong pronoun or assuming their personal gender pronoun without asking can be damaging. Imagine if someone called you by the wrong name every time you spoke to them, even after you'd corrected them. To be misidentified is disrespectful. It can cause oppression, dysphoria, and feelings of invalidation.

If you're unsure of how to ask someone what pronoun they use- it is simpler than you may think. Start by asking "What pronoun do you use?". I promise it will make you feel less uncomfortable asking than it would to have your gender wrongly assumed.

Oftentimes at conventions or events, name tags are provided that have a space for both your name AND your personal pronoun. It's great. If you're in that situation, it's the perfect way to ensure that you are respecting the pronoun of the person you are speaking to. It's also a great way for YOU to make YOUR personal pronoun known to those you are conversing with.

Historically, she/her and he/him are the most common pronouns. However, there are plenty of gender-neutral pronouns that are just as common. They/them/theirs is a common gender-neutral pronoun that is used in the singular. For instance, "they went for a walk because they were bored". Other commonly used pronouns are ze, hir, ne, ve, ze, and xe.

Here is a helpful website to learn more on how to properly use these pronouns.


Respect is the keyhole at the end of this equation. Respect comes from education and concern for the livelihood of others. Ask questions. Listen for answers. Remember that someone's gender is not your choice. Respect is.

Cover Image Credit: Pink News

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I Won't Forgive The Anti-Semitic Students Of Spain Park, Not Yet

Maybe it isn't time for an apology.

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I am Jewish. It is something I have never been afraid of and something I value as much in life as I do with my family and friends. Throughout my life, though I have witnessed hate of the Jewish people and jokes made about Jewish people.

In high school, I had to listen to jokes about Jews and the gas chambers and was asked because I was Jewish if I could do someone else's math homework.

To say I had to deal with anti-Semitism in the South does not come close to describing what I had to go through. As time went by the jokes stopped and I thought I would not have to deal with instances of prejudice or bigotry but I was wrong. Growing up as one of the only Jewish people in my friend group and in high school it made me consider myself strong and ready for college but in my freshman year I had to go through other jokes about my religion and even in sophomore year had to witness someone I thought was my friend make a joke about my religion because "he thought it was funny."

I let the instances of anti-Semitism serve as times when I could prove people wrong I learned to forgive and forget.

But I had to witness other acts of hate towards Judaism while in college. From swastikas on a fraternity house, a synagogue shooting, the BDS movement and more hate speech, the hate towards Jews have seemed to grow and I do not understand why. I get hurt each time I hear of an instance but it has not allowed me to view my Judaism any differently. However, there was an occurrence that has affected me in a different way.

It happened in my home state and it has not sat well with me.

On Monday a video surfaced of multiple high school students making anti-Semitic and anti-Black comments. The video featured a guy turning around the camera multiple times to show he was laughing and thought it was funny while others made comments about concentration camps, what would happen if Jews ruled the world and asking what the world would be like without the Holocaust. The students were from Spain Park in Birmingham and have gathered quite a reputation online.

To say I am filled with anger, disappointment, and embarrassment is an understatement.

This is my home state and these students are not only disrespecting the Jewish and Black people in the state of Alabama but throughout the US and possibly even in the world. I am hurt by this instance but I am not ready to forgive these students just yet.

After the video was leaked online some of the students sent messages to the person who uploaded the video apologizing. That I took as a mature gesture until I read the apology from the girl in the video. The apology asked if the user could remove the video because it would ruin her life and reputation. It was later found out that the female student is the daughter of the manager of the Toyota dealership in Hoover after the manager posted an apology.

Any remorse I had going for these students was now gone.

They were not sorry. They were sorry that they got caught and were facing consequences. They gave the apology that your parents made you say when you did not want to apologize. They did not care about who they had harmed or what they had said, they cared because they had to face consequences and they know that this mistake would follow them for the rest of their life.

I'm at a loss for words.

I don't know how to feel. I know someone will tell me I am overreacting but how am I supposed to approach this? What they said was wrong and there is no proper way to express frustration for it. I know people get offended by certain things but some things are not meant to be a joke. So I hope what you said was worth it and was fun to say because it will follow you for the rest of your life. Some lessons are best-learned overtime and it looks like you will have a chance to reflect on these events.

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