What’s Up With Your Pronouns, Dr. Liz?

Apr 21, 2020

Hey, everyone! It is Dr. Liz. I am here today talking about gender and pronouns. This video is one that I am a little nervous to make because in this video, I am going to say to all of you very publicly that I use they/them pronouns. 

A lot of folks asked me like, “What’s with all the pronoun stuff these days?” Why is everyone asking their pronouns? Why are people putting pronouns in their bios or their email signatures? 

The answer is we are working hard these days to be more inclusive of people all across the spectrum of gender. If we think about 20 or 30 or 40 years ago, most people assumed that there were two genders, men and women. 

What we have come to understand and accept in more recent years is that gender can be much more complex than that. I am non-binary. I identify as genderqueer. What that means to me is I have a whole lot of gender and it’s not easily encapsulated by one term like man or woman. There are some days where I like look like this and I’m like very femme and like makeup and women clothes. And there are some days where I feel very masculine and much more like a man and I feel like a dude. I talk about it as I have too much gender for one body to contain. 

For me, using the pronouns she/her worked for a long time. And also felt like it didn’t tell the whole picture. And so in the last year or so, I’ve been moving towards using they/them pronouns. What this means is if you were talking about me to someone, you might say, “Hey, I was watching this video by Dr. Liz and they were explaining how to use different kinds of pronouns for people.” Rather than saying, “She was explaining.” 

She/Her for me feels incomplete, and that’s why I prefer they/them. There are some folks in my life who still use she/her pronouns for me. And that’s not the end of the world. But it doesn’t feel like it sees the entirety of who I am like it really validates and reinforces how I understand myself. And so for me, I’m moving towards they/them pronouns. 

Now, people who are non-binary can be any variety of different understandings of gender or have no gender at all. So people can be agender, which means they don’t identify with any of the genders. They can be gender fluid which means sometimes they identify with men, sometimes they identify with women, sometimes they identify with something else. They can be genderqueer where they are like fucking with what gender means and how gender presents. They can be bigender or any number of different ways that gender comes to them. 

There is I think a big misconception about why people start asking for different pronouns or identifying with new genders. There are some people who think that it’s a trend or that it’s for attention, and that’s simply not true because let me tell you, the kind of attention that you get for being non-binary is not good. 

As I’ve started asking people to use they/them pronouns for me, it has really shown me a lot of how challenging it can be to be outside of the queer gender boxes in this world. I’ve had more than one conversations with someone where I asked them to use they/them pronouns with me and then we have to have a whole conversation about how they/them is a dis-singular pronoun and it’s wrong and it doesn’t make any sense. 

And I’m in this position of having to simultaneously ask for respect and explain why respect is something they should care about at all. And that just feels really hard. It feels like I don’t matter, like it’s more important to them the grammar that they learned in third grade than making me feel seen and understood and valued as a person. So pronouns can seem like a little thing but they can make a big difference for folks who don’t identify in the gender binary. 

If you are watching this video and you don’t know where to start with figuring out stuff about gender and pronouns, the easiest thing you can start doing is just sharing your pronouns with people when you are out and about. That can be as simple as when you introduce yourself to someone saying like, “Hey, I’m Liz. My pronouns are they/them.” 

Even if you are cisgender, even if you use the pronouns that agree with the sex you were assigned at birth, even if you are someone everybody reads as a woman and you also identify as a woman or whatever, normalizing offering your pronouns makes it much easier for other people like me to normalize offering our pronouns. 

Another thing you can do that’s really helpful is if you know someone’s pronouns and you know that some people get it wrong, you can ask that person if it would be helpful for you to correct other people on their pronouns. 

For me these days, I use they/them pronouns. I’m kind of okay with she/her but it really doesn’t feel like it fits me super well anymore. But I feel uncomfortable correcting people on my pronouns because it seems easier to just let people misgender me than to remind them and have to deal with either like a whole bunch of apologies in trying to make them feel better or like a whole talk or lecture on how hard it is or how it doesn’t make sense. So, having friends who can correct other people on my pronouns for me is actually really helpful and makes a big difference. 

Another thing you can do is put your pronouns in your email signature or your bios so that everybody knows what pronouns to use for you, and ask people if they have pronouns that they would like you to use with them. 

If you are someone who is curious about your own gender and doesn’t know where to start exploring, there’s a really excellent book called You and Your Gender Identity and I’ll put a link to that in the notes down below. It’s a book that I’ve started working through myself to figure out what my gender is like and how I want to think about my gender and be perceived and explore my gender. 

And I want to end this by saying that my gender stuff has been a journey for me for a couple of years but I haven’t talked about it a lot publicly because it’s really tender and raw for me. A lot of what I talk about in my videos and my writing and the stuff that I do publicly is true stuff and hard stuff and vulnerable stuff. It’s usually though stuff that I’ve had a chance to polish, that I have figured out what I want the story to be, what I want the lesson to be. 

And for me right now with my gender, because it’s still newer, because I’m still figuring it out, it feels harder to talk about because I don’t know what the lesson is to give all of you. Maybe the lesson is that it doesn’t have to be perfect all the time. Maybe the lesson is that you can be messy and in progress and not have to have the final polished version of something in order to start talking about it. 

I don’t know how much I’ll be talking about gender in my videos coming up but if that’s something you want to hear more about, if you want to hear more about my gender journey, please let me know and I will work on getting more videos out about it. 

Until then, I got my pronoun pen right here that says they/them. I’ll put a link to where I got this one in the show notes. 

Until next time,

Dr. Liz

Want to get my awesome pronoun pins? Check out Stern Face and Dark Spark Decals on etsy!

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