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Personal pronouns

(99 Posts)
Sabistick Thu 07-Dec-17 08:41:17

Sorry if this has already been answered.
Why are we saying , she/her to trans identifying men, to be polite?
In the rules of grammar, is it the person using the word that gets to choose, based on what they see, or is it the person being described ,who gets to say?
I didnt really study grammar as a kid (child of the 60s here), so any guidance would be good.

Sabistick Thu 07-Dec-17 09:07:13


MentholBreeze Thu 07-Dec-17 09:16:59

Yes, to be polite, at first, to be nice to people who are having a tough time.

But now, it's changed a bit. Now, it's on pain of excommunication. People are bullied into doing it. It's no longer out of respect, or politeness, but fear - and that's what makes me angry, and I would think, makes those who are polite, and did it out of politeness, and received this politeness graciously, also angry.

No-one likes capitulating to bullies, even if previously you'd have done something without thinking about it.

MentholBreeze Thu 07-Dec-17 09:20:32

The difference between inviting a neighbour in when they knock on the door for a chat, and having them force themselves past you and make themselves comfortable on your settee.

Sabistick Thu 07-Dec-17 09:38:30

You make a good point, menthol, but im wondering (doubting myself) what she/he means . If , technically it is given by the speaker , then its not up for discussion, and women shouldnt feel guilty.

AstraiaLiberty Thu 07-Dec-17 09:40:18

I do it to be polite. It's inaccurate, but I think the need to be kind and respectful of the way ordinary trans people want to be addressed is more important.

If the person isn't polite and respectful in turn, but is an aggressive transactivist of the 'transwomen are women, no debate,' 'there is no such thing as biology,' 'toddlers can be trans if they like the wrong clothes/toys,' 'street harassment is complimentary and empowering' type? I'm not going to call him a woman. It's too offensive to my own values.

LangCleg Thu 07-Dec-17 09:50:05

Online, I phrase things to avoid pronouns as much as possible and if I can't manage in a particular instance, use them/they.

I use preferred pronouns for trans people I know and like in my personal life.

Generally speaking, I see the outrage over misgendering and deadnaming as performative and manipulative - but I don't see the point in doing it if you can avoid it because it just gives people an excuse to be performative and manipulative.

Datun Thu 07-Dec-17 11:04:05

Using preferred pronouns is fine for the length of time where they don’t matter.

Which is why women are quite happy to do it in many real life situations. Where the sex of the person in question is immaterial.

Once it becomes pertinent, and their sex is being leveraged in some way, reverting to sex based pronouns becomes part and parcel of calling out that leverage.

It mostly concerns transwomen.

So whilst they are not exploiting their status as either trans or a man, ‘she’ pronouns wouldn’t be a problem. As soon as they start exploiting it, ‘she’ becomes a ludicrous accommodation that is no longer acceptable.

BlindYeo Thu 07-Dec-17 11:08:10

I was just having a wonder about this. I actually now feel it is being complicit in a lie to describe someone male as 'she' or someone female as 'he'.

It is a lie of politeness which could quite easily be accommodated previously but is now being used by TRAs as the thin end of the wedge with the thick end (in more than one sense) being "transwomen ARE women, end of" and the damaging of women's rights. So now I feel decidedly more circumspect about lending out my pronouns.

I suppose it's whether one chooses to argue the pronouns refer to sex or gender.

thedancingbear Thu 07-Dec-17 11:10:28

It's about showing tolerance, which I would say goes a step beyond politeness.

This isn't changed by the fact that there is a small handful of arseholes who choose to weaponise the issue.

Sabistick Thu 07-Dec-17 12:38:19

I get that we want to be polite in social interactions, and i highly value consideration and politeness (age again)more than possibly blanket tolerance. I understand english is gendered , and i feel like im manipulated to saying a dog is a cat!
I had a conversation with dd about a friend ( i didnt know) who was referred to as he , even though the sex is female. At the start i slipped into "he" then "they". Apparently i was wrong for not being enthusiastic enough and transphobic. I did not retort, but my opinion of my dd went down.

Datun Thu 07-Dec-17 13:17:34

The other problem with all this is perception. If you consistently refer to a man as she, it subtly alters one’s perception and you have to keep translating in your head. Something that many people simply won’t do.

It’s brainwashing. And where it doesn’t matter, it’s fine. But talking about trans people in general does matter because it’s a conversation that is usually based around the ideology.

CisCucumber Thu 07-Dec-17 13:21:58

I was on the Labour party forum FB group
No idea why but I was constantly referred to as cis and as a TERF.
I pointed out several times that I was happy to use preferred pronouns so why couldn't they be respectful when I said cis was offensive
I was told it was a descriptor so I had no right to be offended fhmm

CisCucumber Thu 07-Dec-17 13:23:06

No idea why I was on there not no idea why I was referred to as cis or TERF
I was called those because I said womens and transwomens needs were very different

CisCucumber Thu 07-Dec-17 13:23:57

I was also told that I couldn't speak for trans women but trans women can speak for women because they are both trans and women

BlackEyedKid Thu 07-Dec-17 13:28:05

Personally if I’m talking to a transperson or referring to one in his/her earshot and I think they’re a decent person I’d use their preferred pronoun out of politeness.

However if they’ve been rude to me or otherwise shown signs of being an arsehole then fuck it.

As for talking about, say, Lily Madigan on here or elsewhere online - no way am I going to tie myself in knots typing “they” all over the place or even more clunkily, writing “Lily” everywhere a pronoun would usually go. It’s ridiculous.

Datun Thu 07-Dec-17 13:51:17


Because you are either 100 percent in or 100 percent out.

There can be no caveats.

You have to agree that men are biologically women, that they can speak for women and that they present no threat to women’s rights.

If you have the slightest problem with any of that, you are a terf.

Collidascope Thu 07-Dec-17 14:03:30

"The other problem with all this is perception. If you consistently refer to a man as she, it subtly alters one’s perception and you have to keep translating in your head. Something that many people simply won’t do."

Yes, this is why I won't call a TIM 'she'. Language is powerful and it shapes thoughts and I don't want to send myself down the track of subconsciously believing that a man can be a woman.

I also dislike the term misgendering. 'She' and 'he' refer to sex not gender. As 'female' and 'male' do.

BahHumbygge Thu 07-Dec-17 14:04:12

Just shows that trans is a having your cake and eating it thing.

Either they are simply women by dint of having a feminine gender, in which case they cannot be "trans".

Or they are not women at all, they are men all along and they should stfu & gtfo.

Claiming the words "trans" and "women" means they get to keep their feet both in the man camp when it suits to be trans, and in the woman camp when it suits to be women. It means they can pick and choose their loyalties at their convenience. It's sleight of hand - by one switch of words they can turn from oppressors into the most oppressed.

TisapityshesaGeordie Thu 07-Dec-17 14:10:14

For me, it's a matter of politeness. I do it in much the way I would refer to a Catholic priest as "Father" despite being an atheist I don't need to share their beliefs in order to show respect for them in the language I use.

I also do as ammunition should anyone try to insist on calling me "cis" - I don't get to define them, so they don't get to define to me.

TisapityshesaGeordie Thu 07-Dec-17 14:14:21

Didn't see your post before I posted that @CisCucumber . It's insane that they think they can call you whatever they like - and forbid you to be offended by it! - yet expect you to jump through whatever linguistic hoops they demand in order to spare their precious feelings!

PilarTernera Thu 07-Dec-17 14:14:24

I agree it's a matter of politeness, assuming that the other person is also being polite. My usual strategy is to avoid the issue by using the person's name rather than a pronoun.

Datun Thu 07-Dec-17 14:28:11

For me, it's a matter of politeness. I do it in much the way I would refer to a Catholic priest as "Father" despite being an atheist

It’s not the same though. What would be the same as if the priest told you he was your actual father.

And he was withdrawing your pocket money and sending to you to your room for disrespect if you disagree.

slightlyglittermaned Thu 07-Dec-17 14:28:30

I'd agree with thedancingbear - it's tolerance rather than politeness. I don't feel I should rescind tolerance for transpeople because of transactivist wankers. Perhaps especially so when some of them are being quite viciously attacked by extreme transactivists.

I have some empathy for the upset people can feel as I used neutral pronouns myself for a period when younger - within a particular queer-friendly group rather than with everyone. At that time I felt quite a bit of ambiguity about my gender (would probably have identified as non-binary if that term had been commoner then).

To make respect and politeness conditional on the right "tone" feels wrong to me.

user1471448556 Thu 07-Dec-17 14:32:24

How about a gender neutral pronoun, like Ze for trans people?

Just as for 'safe spaces', I think the fairest option for all is to look for the third space or the third pronoun.

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