If you find yourself reading this article you might be wondering, “What is all the fuss about pronouns?” Well, there is actually quite a lot to fuss about. Changing your pronouns can be a harrowing task. Asking friends and family to use new language feels burdensome, and it can make people really depressed if they are met with resistance.
If you’re named something you really don’t associate with, you can give yourself a nickname. However, pronouns aren’t as easy to alter.
My own pronoun journey has not been smooth. I came out as transgender my senior year of college. I had great friends who were supportive and made the switch almost overnight. It was a huge relief. Then I had some uncomfortable interactions with family who just couldn’t get the language to stick. In some cases, I don’t think they put in the effort to understand that this is who I really am, and that they have no say in it.
Personally, I think it’s weird that you can’t just go to a salon and change your pronouns.
If you don’t like your hair, you can pay money to have it changed. When you go home for the holidays, some of your family members might not like your new hair. They might say they liked your old hair a lot better, but they can’t force your old hair back onto your head. They can’t glue your split ends onto your fresh bouncy locks.
If you don’t like your style, you can go to a new store and check out how you look in a completely different look. And if your friends get confused, you just keep showing up in your awesome outfits and there’s nothing they can do about it. They don’t show up in the morning and force you to wear your old clothes — the clothes that don’t even fit anymore. They just have to get used to it.
And yet, for some reason, these same people who should have no say in what fits you are somehow allowed to tell you what pronouns to use. Like, hello, I am not the same person I was when I was 5. I’ve learned more about myself. I know how I like to wear my hair, I know what clothes make me feel badass, and I know that I use the pronouns that feel right to me.
This is the part that is really going to blow your mind, so stay with me. You know how sometimes you try a new haircut and it’s freaking great and then, maybe weeks, months, or even years later, you realize it’s not really fitting your style anymore? You can go get a new haircut. And your family and friends will have to adjust to this rebrand as well.
“How can we possibly learn to love this new haircut?” they will shout from the rooftops. But they will learn to adjust, because, again, it is not their freaking hair.
The same principle applies to pronouns. Some people put in all the work and effort of letting their family and friends know their pronouns, and then a while later, they realize that those pronouns actually aren’t working for them so well. They want to try something new. Do they have to keep the same pronouns just because their Great-Aunt Hilda likes them? Of course not; Aunt Hilda has her own pronouns to worry about.
Some people have learned that they feel the most comfortable with a haircut that can’t really be put into one specific category. Is that a mullet? Or is it more of a shag with bangs? Their friends and family will have to describe their haircut to colleagues and acquaintances without the terminology they are used to. The horror! Somehow they will survive.
If you’ve ever gone into a salon and asked for a big cut, expecting to look like Miley Cyrus and ending up looking like Noel Fielding, you know how disappointing it can be. You walk out wanting to hide your face. Now imagine if you didn’t even bring in a picture of Miley Cyrus. You brought in a picture of Zac Efron but the stylist decided they knew best. News flash: They don’t know best. You do. It’s your life.
Figuring out the pronouns that work for you is a huge relief. Like when the stylist steps aside and you see that what you asked for came out perfectly. You walk out into the world feeling so confident that you can take on anything.
So if you see a friend or loved one with a new pronoun, don’t make it about you. Maybe you should go to the pronoun salon and see what’s new. What are the kids wearing? You might find out that the old options are kind of limiting.