Younger generations stretch the accepted notions and traditions of their elders. As we’re all too aware, the pace of the stretch escalates exponentially as time and history move forward. My generation tested our parents’ sexual mores. The availability of birth control made room for the sexual revolution and opened the gates of lust, experimentation, and the me generation. Multiple pre-marriage sexual encounters became an accepted norm. Boldly visible homosexuality muted its shock value. The Stonewall riots scraped the bandages off homo- and bi-sexual lifestyles. The tag queer morphed into gay for men and lesbian for women.
Now we navigate an alphabet soup of gender distinctions—gender being a distinct territory, quite foreign to me. My most current vocabulary includes LGBTQ+, which supposedly encompasses lesbian women, gay men, bisexuals, transsexuals, queer, cisgender and nonbinary individuals. It’s no wonder universities offer course study in gender studies. I could benefit from a class that explains the various forms of gender identity, terminology, labels, and fluidity because I admit to often being perplexed by some new gender-specific term.
The newest minefield is gender pronouns. I know you’ve seen them. You may be woke enough to use them. I’m struggling. Young professionals often use them, as do some academicians and clergy. I wonder, Is it time for me to do so? But then I argue with myself. I’ve never felt comfortable with labels. If not forced to express my marital title on a form, I don’t use Mr/Mrs/Ms. I am Linda. It doesn’t matter to me what gender someone presumes I identify with. Perhaps that is because my highly traditional name matches my oh-so-traditional gender identity. But if gender is indeed fluid, why does it matter if I’m a he or a she or a their? However, by not adding my gender pronouns am I failing in some way to support my gender fluid friends or acquaintances? I’m so confused by this issue. A lot has happened in a short time on the gender frontier
Grammar-wise, this whole endeavor gets complicated, as the chart below demonstrates.
So, where do you stand on using gender pronouns? What do you think is the most elegant and thoughtful way to navigate gender etiquette in the moment? Oh, by the way, happy Pride Month.