"I prefer feminine pronouns: she and her."

I originally wrote this a few months back, but in light of recent discussions in this community, I thought I'd repost it here.

I've decided that I really don't like PGP (Preferred Gender Pronoun) Checks during presentations. For those who haven't experienced them, this is when the facilitator of a group discussion asks everyone in the group to, when introducing themselves, include the pronouns they prefer to be called. It's an attempt to make group discussions more trans inclusive, by ensuring up front that misgenderings will be kept to a minimum.

In theory, I think it's a great idea. And there are times when it's been extremely helpful, such as in groups with closeted or newly out trans folk, or groups with really butch women.

But more often what seems to happen is that the PGP Check will happen, and myself and the likely one or two other trans folks in the room will state what pronouns we prefer, and a few of the other people will state what pronouns they prefer. And then, without fail, about half of the cis people in the room say, "Oh, well, I prefer male/female pronouns, but really you can call me whatever you want."

And so, time after time after time, what started as an attempt to make the space more trans friendly becomes another display of the cis privilege I will never have. We go around that circle and I am given my opportunity to beg the people around me not to misgender me, and in return they are given the opportunity to remind me that they don't have to care about that silly gender stuff, that they have never had their identity called into question (or worse, denied outright) with those tiny little words, that this most basic piece of our language has never been wielded as a weapon against them. No, really, you can call them whatever you want, cuz unlike this tranny, they have the confidence to know that nothing bad was meant of it. Just don't call them late for dinner! (Yes, someone makes this joke every single time.)

I seriously wonder if I could call them whatever I want. If I could spend an entire meeting calling that oh-so-confident woman across the room from me "he," and she really wouldn't care. And maybe she wouldn't. Cuz seriously, it's just me doing it. It's not the entire room, it's not the woman at the grocery check-out, it's not the guy who delivers your mail, it's not your boss and co-workers, it's not the cops, it's not your government identification; it's just little old me, so of course you don't care.

I'm not really sure where to go from here, cuz the PGP Check is a good thing, but it gets used to flaunt this privileged cis bullshit so often that I can't stand doing it anymore.

Finding out Pronouns, the Non-Othering Way

I'm writing this because it was pointed out in terms of how the Real Princess Diaries post brought up really busted ways pronouns are assumed.

Ok, so, a lot of cis people who are trying to work on their cis privilege ask anyone that they see as trans, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming their pronouns upon first meeting them or being introduced to them. That way, they figure, they don't mispronoun anyone, and everything is great, and they get their good ally cookie. (A variation on this is only asking people whose name and/or appearance makes things unclear, which is more othering to the people who experience it).

Wrong. One, if you're only asking people who are visible to you, you may be a) missing the genderqueer person whom you read as having a binary gender and b) you may be outting a trans person in a situation where it may well not be safe to do so. (i.e. "She didn't ask Bill, or Susan, or Mary their pronouns, but she did ask Melissa..."). So, then, how do you go about getting people's pronouns so you don't mispronoun anyone, without othering anyone?

In informal situations, you can just wait to use a pronoun for anyone until either they give you one, or until someone you are absolutely certain knows and is using the proper pronouns uses one. Obviously, the later is still a judgement call, and if you're waiting on the former, you had better be absolutely certain that you don't just start using definite pronouns for people you assume are cis until they make a pretty definite statement (such as, "I'm a cis woman and in standing in solidarity with trans people..." or "as a trans woman, I experienced sexism like..."). Or, you can just deal with causing cis people a bit of momentary confusion, and ask absolutely everyone their pronouns.

In formal situations, it's a little easier. If you're going around a circle, for instance, have everyone when they give their name, give their pronouns. Once again, it's a bit of momentary confusion the first time for a cis person, but it prevents trans/genderqueer/GNC people from feeling like their identities aren't legitimate and their Preferred Gender Pronouns aren't some sort of weird thing.

As a tangent, cis people, please do not say you don't care when you are asked your pronouns. You're not showing yourself to be cool with trans people, you're showing that you have no clue what it's like to be mispronouned all the time. I'm willing to bet that after they say that, everyone still goes and uses the pronouns fitting the sex they were assigned at birth. There are actually genderqueer people who prefer alternating pronouns, or genderqueer folk who otherwise want their pronouns varied, but when a cisgendered cissexual says that they don't care about their pronouns, they're showing off the fact that a) they don't get mispronouned so b) they aren't going to be bothered if someone uses a different pronoun for them, because they don't have to deal with it all the time.

(no subject)

I realize that this community is supposed to be for 102 stuff and this is more 101, but it seems like feminist blogs are outing themselves as cissexist left and right.

Her defense of her boyfriend's letter, in the comments?
Well yeah, the whole Coulter-as-trans thing is of course insulting to trans people (in more than one way. I mean *Coulter*?!) The problem, though, is that Coulter herself makes a bfd out of how "attractive" she is. And, well, she isn't. And it's weird that she's kinda mannish given how hyper-femme she is.

So it's not the most pc joke in the world, for sure. But it's really hard to avoid.

I don't really read Bitch PhD, so i don't know if this is a disappointment or par for the course with her. But hey there you go.

ETA: omg her apology is even worse

Cisgenderism and Cissexism

Ok, I should probably start this out with this community is not Trans 101 or Anti-Oppression 101. The community presumes that if you are cisgender and/or cissexual, from the About section of the community info: "This community is a space created for the purposes of challenging cissexism and transphobia in those of us who consider ourselves cisgendered/cissexual allies to transgendered/transsexual people. For cis members, this will require that we scrutinize our actions and motivations, as well as our investment in the systemic inequities that make transphobia and cissexism possible in our society. We believe that until cis people commit in good faith to doing this, widespread social change cannot occur."

So this first post is a bit of a 102. The About section also defines both cisgenderism and cissexism, which are two separate but obviously strongly interconnected things. In other words, cisgenderism is against people who do gender wrong, cissexism is against people whose concept of their sex does not match what society assigned them at birth. One can certainly be targeted by both, and often times the line is hard to draw. Just like with most oppressions, it's not cut and dry, and a matter of degrees.

I think this is where some of the conflict with transphobic feminists come about. A lot of the transphobic radical feminists visibly do not acceptably perform the gender woman. A lot of times, what they face could be called sexism. But in some cases, like the discrimination faced by a female-assigned-at-birth, woman-identified butch for being masculine, we could well call it cisgenderism, due to the gender nonconformity of the butch in question. However, the butch still definitely has cissexual privilege, and is not oppressed by cissexism.

This is why it's crucial to talk about both cissexism and cisgenderism, how they interact with each other -- as in trans people who are perceived as performing their gender identity in societal acceptable ways getting more acceptance then trans people who are gender nonconforming in their gender identity, or have a non-binary gender identity.(1) It's also crucial for people here to really honestly recognize where they are in terms of cisgender and cissexual privilege. Sometimes, not being the societal stereotype of woman or man runs into either misogyny or femmephobia/sissyphobia. Sometimes it gets you perceived as attempting to not be a wo/man. Some people here will be cissexual but transgender/gender non-conforming; some people here will be transsexual people with conditional cisgender privilege; some will be transsexual and gender non-conforming; and some will be both cissexual and cisgender. All of those are fine, but remember when posting and commenting to know where you fit, and what privileges you have (and this goes for every other type of oppression, too). Part of privilege is that it's invisible; inevitably, sometimes we will all not see our privilege - it's how we respond to that being pointed out to us and how we change our privileged attitudes and actions that is more crucial.

(1) This is in strong contrast to Serano's idea of subversivism. There is a definite need for a critique of Serano, but here is not the place for it, in a space for cisgender/cissexual people to confront their privilege.