Their Gender is Not Your Choice

Their Gender is Not Your Choice

The importance of using correct pronouns.

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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6 Things You Hear When You Move To America From Another Country As A POC

My mom is from the Philippines, I'm from Michigan.

I grew up the same as everyone else I’d say. I spent my evenings at the park playing with the neighborhood kids, I went to kindergarten and ate a bunch of snacks, ran after the ice cream truck numerous times, and learned to count to 7. The only difference that seems to make a significant impact on how others see me is that I grew up in a different country and am also a different race. Is it really that big of a difference though?

I was raised in a military family, so we were constantly moving from base to base, state to state, and country to country. I was born In North Carolina, my sister was born in Alabama, but we were raised in Japan for the majority of our early years. My mother would take us on mini vacations to the Philippines to visit her family quite frequently as well. So over the years we were most definitely exposed to several traditions, cultures, and more. To this day we still celebrate these traditions and our lifestyle can be a tad bit different than the average American. However, are we so different from everyone else that it gives people the right to make assumptions based on my race? No. No one deserves the basic stereotypes and racial comments regardless of who they are or where they’re from.

When you get into the nitty gritty of things in finding the differences between someone raised in America and another country there’s not a lot. Sure, there’s a slight language barrier sometimes, but is that any different? Sometimes we have more traditions to celebrate and handle things slightly differently as well, but when it comes down to it, we don’t have too many differences between us. Hell, I grew up in Japan and the biggest change I noticed when I moved to Michigan wasn’t the people- but rather how many damn trees are here.

As if growing up in another country isn’t enough, I am also Filipino and African American. A lot of people cut pretty quick to the chase in making assumptions when they see you’re from another country. However, once they see you’re a different race that’s not white AND you grew up somewhere else it’s basically a whole new ball park that’s full of questions and slightly offensive remarks. These assumptions are generally stereotypical and sometimes can come off as borderline racist (depending on how you phrase it). If you were born/raised in another country and found yourself moving to the country we know as the land of the “free”, or if you’re an ethnicity that’s not the “American Norm”, then you have definitely heard some of these questions/statements at least once or twice in your lifetime.

1. Where were you born? No, like where are you from? …where are you really from?

Well I spent the last 13 years here in Michigan, but I was born in North Carolina. But if you really wanted to know, yes, I’m half Filipino. Yes, I’ve lived there. Happy?

Almost everyone, regardless of their race, gets that question handed to them and it’s annoying enough to make your eyes roll out your skull.

2. What are you?

Human? What kind of question is that? Do I look like a breed of a dog or a vegetable to you? Just ask me what my race is, at this point I’m used to hearing that question so it wouldn’t bother me. Flat out asking what am I is a little more offensive than anything.

3. Basic racial remarks.

“Do you see as much as I do with your eyes that squinty?”

“Does your mom cook orange chicken really well?”

“Why are you so tall if you’re Asian, aren’t they usually shorter? Oh, that’s right, you’re also half black! That’s why you’re 5’4” instead of 5’0”!”

“You don’t have a stutter, that’s just your accent coming back to you I bet.”

Don’t even get me started on how many people have pulled their eyes back and said “ching chong ching,” to me and made fun of me with a fake Chinese accent. I’m not even Chinese.

4. Do you know how to speak their language? Can you say a sentence?

I know just as much tagalog as you know Spanish. All swear words and how they are. No, I will not say them either.

5. Common stereotypes.

These kinds of people just jump to conclusions and base their knowledge off television shows or the internet. There’s really no filter on them either, so they kind of just fire it at you.

“I bet you can do math really well, but watch out for her on the roads! She’s probably an awful driver!” Add the fact that I’m a woman on there too, that stereotype never ends.

No, I can’t do karate. No, I can’t do jiu-jitsu. I can barely touch my toes, let alone throw a solid kick.

6. How do you pronounce your name?

There are two types of people that ask this question: ones who say it in the most Americanized way possible, and then those who try to add an unnecessary obvious accent to it. Either they find new syllables and vowels in your name that you never saw, or it’s a giant slaughter altogether. Regardless, at least they asked right? They’re still going to pronounce your name wrong…but they still asked.

As much as I can go on this topic forever, the point I’m trying to get to is to please watch what you say. POC shouldn’t be used to hearing remarks like these. The things listed here are directed mainly towards the Eurasia side, this doesn’t cover what our buddies from other countries and continents endure. We are all human in every way possible. We may have different traditions and cultures, but we do not barge into your life and ask you irrelevant questions. If anything ask us in depth questions, not the simple black and white ones.

Cover Image Credit: Max Pixel

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I'm Bi And Dating Straight For The First Time Ever

And sometimes it feels weird. In a good way, though.

There’s a time in almost every bisexual’s life when the implications of actually being bi slam against them.

It’s usually the moment when you have to make two profiles on a dating app because it only lets you pick one gender. Or, typically if you’re a woman, all the worst threesome-seeking couples within the tristate area glom onto you like a starved barnacle on a 15th-century Spanish galleon.

For me, it was a Lyft ride. I was on my way home from a Tinder date.

The driver was friendly enough. She was middle-aged and built of soft, sweeping curves. Her car smelled like peppermint and a hand-sewn and very pink Christmas sweater clung to her shoulders. If she wasn’t a grandmother yet, she was already well-prepared for it.

Naturally, we chatted. She asked me what I had been up to. “Just got back from a date.”

“Oh, what was she like?”

I fired back the basics: she was a biochemistry major at Oregon State University, we had a lot in common, had a great time.

There were things I didn’t share: we’d hit it off so well that we’d missed out on plans to see the new Blade Runner and I’d ended up staying the night. That my date had soft, brown eyes with an understating gravity, strong enough that you barely realized she was wearing glasses. But the basic point was relayed.

It hit me as we pulled up to my place. Not once, in describing the idea that I had had a date, did I have to disguise the pronoun of my date to hide her gender.

Later, when I had a second date with Eve, and when we eventually decided to make things official and date for good, the culture shock echoed further: I was in my first-ever straight relationship.

Eve wasn’t the first woman I’d ever dated. However, she was the first woman I’d dated since transitioning to male.

My first relationship started in the 8th grade. I was out as bisexual to a handful of friends and relatives. She was an out-and-proud lesbian. We would stay together for three years, eventually ending up long distance after my family packed up and moved across the country.

Like the best of lesbians, she’d introduced me to the finer points of vegetarian cuisine and we’d write shitty fiction together, my fiction considerably shittier than hers. We’d even stayed friends, for a time, after an amicable breakup.

The entire relationship was spent in various closets. We held hands in the dark. I didn’t even tell my parents until we’d been together for at least two years. We’d ignore the sneers we’d get in public. I handily hid my gender issues.

Not long after I turned eighteen, I stopped hiding the gender issues and began working towards manhood. I’d like to think I did okay for a former girl scout. Along with that? I started dating (and hooking up with) other men.

Like my ex-girlfriend, my ex-boyfriend and I got used to keeping a couple inches away from each other while walking in public, especially in the shadier parts of town. I got used to calling him my “partner” just so I wouldn’t have to out myself as gay/bi to classmates or colleagues.

When I came to realize I would be a guy dating a girl, some small part of me finds I’m still amazed at the novelty of it. Another part of me feels a little guilty. And I feel that weird guilt, especially as I “pass” more and more as a male. I blend in, when I was used to sticking out. Sometimes it’s comforting. Other times I feel like a traitor selling out the gay agenda.

But that’s the thing about being bi. We date who we date. We love who we love. And hoping one of these days, it’ll only be love that matters.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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