Why gender identity should be respected


Art by Johanna Wen

A person celebrates people’s identities with trans, genderfluid, nonbinary and queer.On the third Wednesday of October, transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming individuals around the world, as well as their allies, observe International Pronouns Day to promote respect, sharing and education throughout the year.

People’s gender identity should be respected. Based on an Instagram poll on Oct. 24, 82 percent of 124 students at Bellaire are openly supportive of individuals using pronouns other than binomial pronouns. Our generation is growing more and more comfortable with their self expression, so I believe that this is a great opportunity to learn more about this growing community.

As of Oct. 24, Instagram results about whether students supported the use of diverse pronouns proved to be majority supportive. There were 102 people out of 124 respondents, all of this was out of 338 viewers. (Photo by Johanna Wen)

“I respect [people’s pronouns] regardless, but I admit, I’m not the most informed on it. If I misgender you, please correct me,” senior Isabelle Ajdiou said. “While I don’t know a whole lot. I wouldn’t mind if anyone would teach me.”

Pronouns are proper nouns, words that substitute a noun. Gender-based pronouns are a social construct made to fulfill the purpose of describing someone. In recent years, we’ve moved onto more than just binomial pronouns: ‘she/her’ and ‘he/him.’ It is only fair that we should allow freedom of self-expression, ‘especially since we are in the land of the free,’ rather than constricting ourselves to just describe our sex.

Sex and gender is another important topic. In my personal experience, I’ve seen ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ used interchangeably in speech, writing descriptions and information forums. Although society keeps saying and writing that gender and sex are the same thing, that’s not the case. While sex constitutes biologically defined features, which is normally said as ‘a-ab’ – ‘assigned [sex] at birth,’ gender isn’t confined to two binaries. Rather it is a spectrum of identity, whether that is opposite of your sex, all of the above, or gender neutral.

What does gender-neutral mean and is it even applicable? Being gender-neutral means that you don’t identify with the gender binary: male or female. People who aren’t in the binary tend to use: ‘they/them,’ ‘it/its’ and neopronouns.

Freshman Evan Lockhart is nonbinary. They stand with pride during first lunch on Oct. 22. (Photo by Johanna Wen)

FUN FACT: the singular usage of “they” was used in the mid-13th century, and it was often considered a grammatical error. That thought has stayed with us ever since and now it’s our job to move around it because that simply isn’t true. We often use ‘they/them’ in our sentences, especially for people we don’t know. For example: ‘I watched them walk inside the store.’ or ‘Someone lost their key; I hope they find it in the lost and found.’

“‘They’ is already a gender-neutral pronoun that you can use in the singular tense,” non-binary freshman Evan Lockhart said. “If you are gender-neutral and you don’t want to use ‘they,’ there are other pronouns you can use instead if you’re uncomfortable with that.”

So what are neopronouns? Neopronouns are a more recent group of neutral pronouns that consist of: ‘xe/xem/xyrs,’ ‘buns/bunself,’ ‘ze/’zir,’ and more. There are quite a lot of neopronouns because many individuals feel more comfortable customizing their identities. A lot of the pronouns are new, so it may take practice to use them fluidly.

“While every word is ‘made up,’ they are real because they carry meaning to the person and to others,” New York Times writer Ezra Marcus said in an article explaining the significance of neopronouns.

If you want to experiment using other pronouns, you are perfectly valid. If you identify with multiple pronouns, that’s fine too. There are no confinements. And just because there isn’t a label for something, doesn’t mean that what you feel isn’t valid. No one should be able to tell you how you should feel because you are in charge of yourself, and you know best.