The Identifying of Gender Identity


Tori Pippins, Staff Writer

He, him, his. She, her, hers.
We’ve been learning about them since elementary school.
We use them every day.
They’re not very difficult.
Most of the time, the use of pronouns is pretty straight-forward. There are situations, though, where you might need to stop and think — what would a certain person prefer?
I’m talking about gender identity.
As awkward as it might make you feel, there are some people who, although they were born as one gender, would rather be referred to as the opposite.
If you don’t like the idea of that, you’re going to absolutely hate this: There are some people who go through a procedure to become a member of the opposite sex.
This is called transsexualism.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with it. In fact, I fully support anyone who falls under either of these two categories. More power to them for wanting to be comfortable in their own skin.
Because that’s all they really want, right?
Maybe you already know someone who does identify as either transgender or transsexual, and you accept them for it, but you don’t know how to show it. What do you do now?
First off, you should probably figure out what kind of pronouns they would prefer. It doesn’t seem like it would be a big deal, but to someone who might constantly be told something akin to, “You were born a boy, so you will always be a boy,” or vice-versa, it makes a huge difference. It not only shows that person you respect them, but it can also boost his or her confidence and help him or her feel more accepted.
When trying to figure out what pronouns you should use, all you need to do is ask that person. You might feel like you would offend them, but the reality is when you ask, it shows him or her the consideration and thought that you’ve put into understanding his or her desires.
It’s as simple as pulling him or her aside one day and saying, “Hey, I wasn’t sure, so I’m asking: What pronouns would you like me to use?” Don’t be shocked or confused if he or she requests you refer to him or her as “they/them.” This is called being agender — when a person does not feel as if they are defined by either male or female.
When meeting someone that is agender, do not say something like “How can you have no gender? You’ve got to be one or the other. That’s ridiculous.” Once again — it doesn’t matter what they are physically. It’s all about what they’re comfortable with, and how they feel about their gender. While you’re asking about pronouns, go ahead and ask them if they have a self-appointed name they would like to go by.
As we all know, there are names — like Melissa or Henry — that are gender-specific. When someone goes through a lot of trouble to be referred to as their preferred gender, it is perplexing to be misgendered because their name sounds either too masculine or too feminine.
This is not a big deal — to you, it might be just like calling them by a nickname, which is very simple. To them, it is much more meaningful. It may be a little difficult to get used to, but it’s worth the effort if you’re trying to support someone.
Keep in mind, though, that there might be certain conditions under which they request that you call them by their given name and use a different set of pronouns, such as in front of parents, teachers or people who do not know this person is transgender.
Again, if you’re unsure of how to refer to someone who is transgender in front of certain types of people, it is OK to use “they/them,” or even avoid using pronouns completely. If you accidentally misgender a transgender or transsexual person, just correct yourself and move on.
In the event that someone else does misgender a transgender or transsexual person and does not realize their mistake, the chances that the transgender or transsexual person will correct them are actually very slim. A lot of the time, they will be too nervous or shy. If you see this happen, all you have to say is something like, “Hey, you’re using the wrong pronouns.” Hopefully, the person or persons making the mistake will correct themselves.
These are pretty simple tasks that everyone is capable of completing, but they are extremely important to any transgender or transsexual person. You might not even fully understand just how happy it makes them.