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 Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists

I believe that I am a strong woman, but I also believe in a strong man.
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Beliefs are beliefs, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm all about girl power, but in today's world, it's getting shoved down our throats. Relax feminists, we're OK.

My inspiration actually came from a man (God forbid, a man has ideas these days). One afternoon my boyfriend was telling me about a discussion his class had regarding female sports and how TV stations air fewer female competitions than that of males. In a room where he and his other male classmate were completely outnumbered, he didn't have much say in the discussion.

Apparently, it was getting pretty heated in the room, and the women in the class were going on and on about how society is unfair to women in this aspect and that respect for the female population is shrinking relative to the male population.

If we're being frank here, it's a load of bull.

SEE ALSO: To The Women Who Hate Feminism

First of all, this is the 21st century. Women have never been more respected. Women have more rights in the United States than ever before. As far as sports go, TV stations are going to air the sports that get the most ratings. On a realistic level, how many women are turning on Sports Center in the middle of the day? Not enough for TV stations to make money. It's a business, not a boycott against female athletics.

Whatever happened to chivalry? Why is it so “old fashioned" to allow a man to do the dirty work or pay for meals? Feminists claim that this is a sign of disrespect, yet when a man offers to pick up the check or help fix a flat tire (aka being a gentleman), they become offended. It seems like a bit of a double standard to me. There is a distinct divide between both the mental and physical makeup of a male and female body. There is a reason for this. We are not equals. The male is made of more muscle mass, and the woman has a more efficient brain (I mean, I think that's pretty freaking awesome).

The male body is meant to endure more physical while the female is more delicate. So, quite frankly, at a certain point in life, there need to be restrictions on integrating the two. For example, during that same class discussion that I mentioned before, one of the young ladies in the room complained about how the NFL doesn't have female athletes. I mean, really? Can you imagine being tackled by a 220-pound linebacker? Of course not. Our bodies are different. It's not “inequality," it's just science.

And while I can understand the concern in regard to money and women making statistically less than men do, let's consider some historical facts. If we think about it, women branching out into the workforce is still relatively new in terms of history. Up until about the '80s or so, many women didn't work as much as they do now (no disrespect to the women that did work to provide for themselves and their families — you go ladies!). We are still climbing the charts in 2016.

Though there is still considered to be a glass ceiling for the working female, it's being shattered by the perseverance and strong mentality of women everywhere. So, let's stop blaming men and society for how we continue to “struggle" and praise the female gender for working hard to make a mark in today's workforce. We're doing a kick-ass job, let's stop the complaining.

I consider myself to be a very strong and independent female. But that doesn't mean that I feel the need to put down the opposite gender for every problem I endure. Not everything is a man's fault. Let's be realistic ladies, just as much as they are boneheads from time to time, we have the tendency to be a real pain in the tush.

It's a lot of give and take. We don't have to pretend we don't need our men every once in a while. It's OK to be vulnerable. Men and women are meant to complement one another—not to be equal or to over-power. The genders are meant to balance each other out. There's nothing wrong with it.

I am all for being a proud woman and having confidence in what I say and do. I believe in myself as a powerful female and human being. However, I don't believe that being a female entitles me to put down men and claim to be the “dominant" gender. There is no “dominant" gender. There's just men and women. Women and men. We coincide with each other, that's that. Time to embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: chrisjohnbeckett / Flickr

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6 Things You Notice When You Transfer From A Community College To A University

Transferring to a university from a community college could be the most stressful and rewarding thing you ever do.

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After spending four years of my life taking classes on and off at a community college in the middle of Michigan and living at home with my parents, I finally decided to make the move and transfer to Eastern Michigan University to finish my degree. I still have a lot of work to do, but making this transition really helped me focus on what I need to do.

Here are the top 6 things I noticed after transferring to a big school from a small community college.

1. No matter how easy it might seem to get everything transferred, it's not.

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Maybe I've just had a bad experience, but everyone I've known that has transitioned from a community college to a university seems to have the same horror stories about the process involved with transferring: and it sucks.

Not only is there a ton of paperwork and appointments to go to with various advisers that all tell you different things, but sometimes the credits (a.k.a. the hard work you've put in at your previous school) just don't transfer for whatever reason. It's stressful, and anyone who says it doesn't have some kind of mental capability or superpower that I wish I had.

2. Students get way more involved.

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A big difference between community college and universities is how spirited the students get! At a community college, people pretty much just go to class and then go home. At EMU, it's all about the eagles! There are so many clubs and organizations to get involved in and sporting events to go to, and it's really refreshing to be around people who love their school! It makes a huge difference and makes you feel like you're part of something bigger.

3. There really is no college town like YOUR college town.

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College towns really are a whole other world. Everything on campus is close together, and there are lots of "spots" in town where students hang out regularly. It's almost like each university is in its own little snow globe that is separate from the rest of the world. And I love it.

Ypsilanti, MI is starting to feel like a home away from home for me, and I know lots of students feel the same way about their college towns. Whether it's weekly trivia nights at the local pizza joint or walking to Insomnia Cookies at 1 a.m., every university has staples that make it unique.

4. You don't see people you went to high school with every day.

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My community college was like part two of high school for me. This is because it was so close to where I graduated, and the fact that it's cheap and an easy way to ease into college. I used to see so many people in classes and in the hallways that I already knew from high school, so it wasn't much of a change and didn't really feel like college. (I'm not by any means bashing people who start at community colleges either, I think they're a great place to start.) Since my university is almost two hours from home, there was pretty much no one I already knew here. New city, new school, new people.

5. The friends you make will be longer lasting with stronger bonds.

Kristin Madaj

This is not to say that I didn't enjoy anyone in my classes at community college. I made a few friends there, but it's a lot different. I pretty much only saw those people in class, and then everyone goes home afterward.

At universities, many people live on campus or near it, so they are around a lot more and have time to hang out. I've made some lifelong friends already this year in my classes and especially in the building I live in. I hang out with my roommates every day, and I see the people who live in my building pretty often too. It's a community where we all have a lot in common, and the friendships are lasting.

6. You have a chance to start all over!

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Because everything is new and different when most people transfer to a university, you have a chance to make a whole new start for yourself! No one knows you or your past failures, no one knows who you dated in high school or what your reputation was. New school, new you!

Bottom line: transferring to a university after being at a community college for a few years can be stressful. It can be difficult and a lot different than what you're used to. But it was one of the best things I've ever done. I'm only one semester in and I've already made so many memories and met so many amazing people! And those people will be there for all of your stresses and bad days. If you're getting ready to make the transition or even thinking about it, I hope you fall in love with your new school and home as much as I did.

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