A couple of weeks ago when I took the light rail, I talked at length with one of the security people working at the north side station. As a new rider, I wanted to know some stuff about how it all worked. The security guard was extremely outgoing, friendly and helpful, and very androgynous in appearance — so later, when I wanted to tell a friend what I’d learned, I couldn’t decide whether the pronoun “he” or “she” would be more appropriate. I see this a lot more since I moved to a large city last year. In a store I saw someone with a tag stating a name — with “They” added underneath it. When I got established at a new medical facility here, the person making the appointment asked which pronoun I preferred. In my online Spanish Zoom class, one person lists a name and adds in parenthesis “he/him”. A lot of people get really worked up about this but I haven’t quite figured out how it hurts me to acknowledge when someone does or doesn’t want to be seen as binary. A couple of people I knew in high school went through difficult experiences and afterwards, changed first names to signify a new beginning. I got used to it. I just read an essay about organizations that have adopted what they call equity language guides, changing descriptive words so no one will be offended. I thought some of the changes made perfect sense, while others seemed just plain silly to me — but I love words and continue to be fascinated by our evolving (or not) language. I’m not sure the gender preference thing falls into that same category. It’s definitely one more thing for my aging brain to learn but just because I’m old doesn’t mean I can’t change. And maybe it would actually be simpler if everyone were “they”.


Image courtesy BrinWeins at

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2 Responses

  1. Barb Pryde says:

    I have always thought English should have a non-gender based pronoun.They/Them works.

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