By: Hollis Taylor
Recently as I am navigating through manifesting myself, Hollis Taylor, as a gender activist, writer, and publisher I have had to really find my truth on pronouns. I had to decided what it means for me and what is appropriate. I have been solid on being a genderqueer for several years but have yet to be really solid on my pronouns. I have decided that I agree with Kait Burnstein that attempting to use the proper pronouns shows respect for this person, regardless of what pronoun they are asking for, its a simple act of respect. I understand that its hard to use the invented pronouns like zi and zer, which I like in printed material. I also am delighted when people can avoid pronouns all together and for certain they, them and their also is appropriate for me. For me pronouns are most important when dealing with the public and people we are not intimate with. Although it matters how much “respect” we get from our most intimate of friends, family and lovers it is more exaggerated for me in public.
I have been working very hard on a special online publication that represents inclusive spirituality and gives voice to the GLBTQ spiritual community as a whole as well as sex positive people. We pull from individuals that prescribe to these basic values and then branch out from there. We have genderqueers, transwomen, gender benders, drag performers, gay men, lesbians, bisexual people, sacred sluts, sex positive activists all together to explore and discuss spirituality including raising children with these same values. So as publisher I am the sex positive genderqueer lesbian transman gender activist with romantic ideas about a world without gender roles that is enriched by evolved love and comforting peace. I had to decide how I wanted people to talk about me in print and verbally.
Overall my choice is to always remove gender from the conversation all together. But for many this is a tough stretch so I find to give them other alternatives when they MUST use gender pronouns what to use. Especially in print, I like zi and zir but am equally comfortable with them, they and their. Facebook has really mastered this in their updates, you will notice they normally use them – they – their. Facebook allows for more than two choices for gender when you fill out your personal information during your initial sign up. They are not only a great example of how easy it can be done and integrated, but they also have shown great respect to the gender variant community as a whole. Now if they could continue that trend to the polyamorous people in the world.
I have had numerous responses to my requests about gender pronouns. Some people ask what I prefer and respect it with ease, as if its as easy as asking if you like black or green tea. Others struggle with it but clearly make a genuine effort and those people are truly stretching and I respect them for that. Then there are some that get violently defensive and even aggressively violent when corrected in any way regarding my pronouns, even if handled in a peaceful way on my behalf. I have spent many hours meditating on both what pronouns are best for me and how to approach people peacefully. I want to bring clarity and understanding. Clearly this blog speaks my intention.
The next line I want to write in caps because it seems to a clear misunderstanding.
MY GENDER EXPRESSION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MY SEXUAL ORIENTATION! Other than the fact that by changing my gender expression would therefore change my orientation by our cultures standards. But for me gender expression is my way of expressing that gender is beyond the binary. Removing gender from our world would completely eliminate the need for sexual orientation. But when I gender bend I am not doing it because I am HORNY or because I want to attract women. I am doing it because I need to express the masculine side of me that feels oppressed by our very binary world. My gender expression goes way beyond the bedroom.
So here I am to the world saying – Please use Gender Non Specific Pronouns with me, even if you don’t understand, I ask for your respect that my experience is clearly different then yours. I am hoping to continue to find peaceful ways to ask for different pronouns. Some people will be like Facebook and others may be rather violent, regardless I can be sure that my reaction will always be peacefully active. My challenge here is to stay peaceful. I look to leaders like Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. How does someone remain peacefully active when asking for basic respect?
This is my peaceful request to anyone to please respectfully use the correct pronouns.
Here is a little video you might find helpful.