Question About Pronoun Changes

gaynow's picture

Okay, so here's a question for any folk out there who've requested a pronoun change: so I've got a friend who's biologically female and presents as pretty androgynous... He's trans (or some variation thereof) and not OUT OUT in that he doesn't attempt to pass, just dresses a little boyishly, and he doesn't go by a male name and/or announce his pronoun choice when you meet him, but a few hours after he met me he mentioned that he doesn't like female pronouns, and when I asked, he said he'd like me to use male pronouns. I'm not sure if this is the degree to which he's out with everyone, or if he's more out to me because of my overwhelming queerness. Our mutual friend mentioned that she makes an attempt to use male pronouns for him, but switches back to female pronouns when they're around people he's not "out" to. So my question is: what do I do when I find myself in social situations with him and his friends--I don't know if I ought to be switching my pronouns or not.

Also, I assume the answer is yes, but: do I use male pronouns (or whatever altered pronoun) for transpeople when they're not present (i.e., just talking about them)? S'just a little confusing: it feels at times like it's being totally PC, but also it's strange to tell people who have no idea who I'm talking about, "My friend *decidedly female name*, well, he......" Do I switch back to female pronouns there? Do I correct my mother when she refers to my other trans friend as "she"? Any answer'd be helpful. (I don't have to tell you guys that this is not intended to be in any way offensive, I'm just trying to get a handle on how best to approach pronoun-changes. Thanks!)

jeff's picture


If he wants male pronouns, and directly requested them, I say bring them on. It's not your job to regulate his closet or constantly be aware of who's around, etc.

"People who are happy are slugs... They do not move the human race forward."
-- Camille Paglia, on Oasis

bulldyke's picture

i'd say ask him. if you're

i'd say ask him. if you're not comfortable asking, then i'd go with what jeff suggested....and also think a bit about why you're his friend if you can't ask him a question like that.

to see a world in a grain of sand
and a heaven in a wild flower
hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and eternity in an hour

~William Blake

Riku's picture


I'm trans myself and I have issues with this. I've got a friend who isn't -out- to everyone. And I had a class with her, and it was SO hard for me to call her by male pronouns or by her boy name, so I avoided it all together. |D

I'd say just ask him.

the mouse that roared's picture

Ditto the "ask him." As per

Ditto the "ask him."

As per your more general question, if a transkid is out, use hir pronouns all the time, whatever the name ze goes by. Otherwise it seems a bit, "we'll humor hir when ze's around but when she isn't we'll go back to her real pronouns." If the names and pronouns "mismatch," all the more subversive.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. --Anais Nin