Why I share my pronouns
I have recently started to share my pronouns. I let people know that the appropriate pronouns to use for me are “he”, “him”, and “his”. For example, in my email signature I have the line “Pronouns: he/him/his”. This is just the contemporary way of saying “I am male”. It is similar to the more traditional use of “Mr”, “Ms”, and so on.
Why do I do this? The short answer is because it costs me almost nothing, and it means a great deal to some people.
A couple of years ago, I had a long email correspondence with someone with a gender-neutral name. It wasn’t until I physically met them, several months into the correspondence, that I discovered their gender. The gender of the person I was talking to made no difference to me.
At about the same time, I had a female colleague who was on the receiving end of gender-based hostility from a male colleague. Gender made a huge difference to both people in that interaction.
I used to have a friend who was a woman, but for medical reasons, she looked very masculine. She was often mistaken for a man, sometimes maliciously, and this caused her great distress.
Most of the time, gender makes no difference to me. I am very lucky in that respect. For some people, gender can be a huge issue, either because people mistreat them because of their gender, or because people misgender them (interact with them as if they were one gender when really they are another).
I share my pronouns because it helps normalise sharing gender. If everyone shares their pronouns, nobody has to worry about misgendering someone. If everyone shares their pronouns, nobody has to worry that they are drawing attention to themselves when they share their pronouns. Being treated as the correct gender is very important to some people, and by sharing my pronouns, I make it easier for those people.
The Christian response to pronouns
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.Matthew 7:12, NIV
As I said, most of the time gender makes no difference to me. However, I am a man, and I don’t like being addressed as if I were a woman. This can happen, for example, when other gay men refer to me as “Michael’s wife.” I like being addressed with the correct gender. Therefore, following the principle in Matthew 7:12, I always try to address people with their correct gender. It is the nice thing to do. It is the polite thing to do. It is the Christ-like thing to do. When someone shares their pronouns with me, that makes my life easier. I know what their gender is – they just told me – so I can address them correctly. The Christian response to someone sharing their pronouns is to use them.
And finally a quick note about singular “they”. I’ve been using “they” as a singular pronoun a lot in this article, and you probably didn’t notice until I brought attention to it just now. Singular “they” has been around for a long time, and although its scope is expanding, it is a valid part of the English language.
The Oxford English Dictionary traces singular they back to 1375, where it appears in the medieval romance William and the Werewolf.A Brief History of Singular ‘they’
We will note that they has been in consistent use as a singular pronoun since the late 1300s; that the development of singular they mirrors the development of the singular you from the plural you, yet we don’t complain that singular you is ungrammatical; and that regardless of what detractors say, nearly everyone uses the singular they in casual conversation and often in formal writing.Singular ‘They’