I do still have that bit of lingering doubt in the back of my mind, wondering who has agency in defining us. I appreciate that we have our own distinct identities, but it’s more the matter of society honouring that or not. And the way language is used in particular with that is a kind of mob rule.
I go back and forth on it because of how much it allows the individual to dictate to society. I go back and forth because I’m not comfortable with those kinds of powers being assigned to the individual. I’m also, though, not comfortable with society dictating how individuals should behave. It’s a two-way street there.
Which gets me to pronouns. Let me say, front and center, that this is not an issue that relates to my own identity: I am biologically male and while I present somewhere down the middle, I continue to ultimately identify on paperwork as male.
Okay. That said, I don’t like the way we’re treating pronouns. Yes, they’re somewhat a relic of more binary times, and yes we do not have a suitable gender-neutral singular aside from the frequently used they/them/their (which I like). But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to go along and agree with that picture up there. That I’m okay with making up words that look like NASDAQ ticker symbols.
My biggest complaint is that they just don’t look or sound good, though. They feel forced in an Esperanto kind of way.
That in no way diminishes my honouring someone else’s identity. I’m in this fluid middle of the spectrum as well. I think this is as far as autonomy can go, though, and while we can choose to change our names, demanding new words as shortcuts for those names goes just that little bit too far from me.
Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m an English professor. Language changes over time: of course it does. And I’ll rail on the use of vacay or other similar nonsense words even harder. We can do better with the words we already have rather than adding new ones.
I also don’t like the prefix cis- to things, but that’s purely phonetic.
/word nerd rant