One of the reasons I love going on Twitter is because I come across countless tweets and videos that make me laugh, but every now and then I see a tweet where the joke being told is offensive. The creator then goes on a tangent about how the joke should not be taken so seriously and that you can make fun of anyone or anything with comedy. There may be a grain of truth to that statement, but I strongly believe that you should not use a group of marginalized people as the punchline for your joke. Right now it is popular for people to make those kinds of jokes about gender identities.
These past few years there have been an increasing amount of conversations about how there are genders beyond male and female and that there are many pronouns that people identify with that are not he/him or she/her. They have educated thousands of people and truly made a positive impact, but some see these discussions as laughable because they refuse to acknowledge that the gender binary is a social construct. The idea that someone’s pronouns are they/them or ze/zir is ridiculous to them and this leads to harmful jokes being made about non-binary and transgender people.
A common joke I see is that people will say they “identify as a toaster” and that they must be addressed as a toaster or you are discriminating against them. The justification for those kinds of jokes is that there are so many gender identities that it is hard to keep up with all of them and that if you slip up for even a second, you will permanently be seen as problematic.
Accidentally misgendering someone once will not get you stoned. The only thing that matters is that you listen to that person correct you and then you apologize and address them by their correct pronouns from then on. What is actually a problem is when you belittle their identity and their experiences by saying you identify as an inanimate object and claiming that it is just as reasonable as someone saying they are non-binary or transgender.
And as far as the argument of it being too difficult to keep up with the different types of gender identities, that just proves you are lazy. I am sure that those of you that think that way are more than capable of remembering the names of most of the people you interact with, so why is it “so difficult” to remember their pronouns? A person’s pronouns are an integral part of their identity, just like their name, and shrugging it off and choosing to call them by the pronouns you have deemed fit sends the message that their existence is invalid.
If you think that refusing to take the time to learn what each person’s pronouns are makes you edgy and hilarious, then I feel sorry for you. Basing your humor on the struggles of others is pathetic and shows your lack of creativity, but more importantly than that, it can be detrimental to the people that are at the brunt of the joke. It takes strength to tell the world that you identify as a gender that is outside of the binary, and being met with insensitive “jokes” can have adverse effects on the mental health of those people. Transgender and non-binary people are more likely to attempt suicide than the rest of the population and further ostracizing them by making jokes at their expense can aggravate any mental struggles that they are already facing.
For those of you that have decided to make an effort in learning about non-binary pronouns, below I have linked a helpful article written by Sassafras Lowrey, a genderqueer person, that includes a chart explaining how to use non-binary pronouns.