Reflecting on your own gender, why you make the decisions you make in regard to gender, and how you understand gender identity can give you a foundation for understanding why other people’s genders are important to them and should be respected. The pronouns people use are about more than speech – they reflect understanding, identification, experience, and accumulated knowledge. People often use the pronouns that fit with their complex gender(s), whether or not they realize they are doing this.
Everyone has some way that they came to understand themselves in the terrain of gender. Sometimes this might feel like a sudden realization that you haven’t thought much about your own gender… sometimes it might be that you’ve had to think about gender all of your life.
For this final activity, you will watch a few people’s gender stories and experiences of learning more about gender identities. As you watch, make notes of any topics that you relate to, anything that surprises you, and any areas you can identify to learn on your own. If there are terms you don’t know, write them down and look them up after you have viewed a few stories.
After you have watched four or five stories, spend 10 or 15 minutes writing about your own understandings of gender. Think about how you feel about the pronouns and other forms of address people use for you. Write to yourself about what you find easy or difficult when learning about gender non-conforming and nonbinary people, about using they/them pronouns, and about using other pronouns that don’t reflect binary gender. Remember that many, many resources exist for people who are willing to approach with humility and a desire to learn.
Use this exercise as a guidepost in your own process of learning about gender and language. If you find you have more questions than answers, look to national or local LGBT(Q) organizations or your local library for more resources.
Best of luck as you move forward! Thank you for taking the time to read through these pages, and for your efforts to be more aware and caring toward the gender non-conforming and nonbinary people who use they/them pronouns in your life.