Question about pronouns

IDKaLittle

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When posting or replying, how do you consider pronouns when referring to another person here?

Sometimes it can by reasonably inferred by a person’s username or profile pic, as to how they identify. But other times it’s not so obvious. In those cases, I’ve tried to use they/them/their until I know different but practically speaking, that can be difficult to do in written prose.

I know there‘s a ‘gender’ selection in one’s profile, and maybe I’m being pedantic, but to me that’s gender and not necessarily identity. I‘ve looked at people’s profiles to try and make a determination but unless I’m missing it, I don’t usually see anything there about the gender they chose in their profile.

What are y’all’s thoughts on this?
 
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Milianna

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I tend to use usernames. No one has ever had a problem with that. If I've seen them around, then I use their pronouns if I've seen how they refer to themselves. But generally, I use names or they/them just to avoid any issues. No one has ever complained about they/them or their username
 
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dpcare

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I think the whole idea of using they/them is about equivalent to referring to yourself in the third party
 
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IDKaLittle

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dpcare said:
I think the whole idea of using they/them is about equivalent to referring to yourself in the third party

Lol, well, technically, it’s not grammatically correct as they/them are plural forms and that’s my only gripe about it because I tend to be a grammar nazi! Of course, I’m old-school, and language evolves…
Still, I’ve found that it can be awkward to use in writing within certain sentence structures.
 

dpcare

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this sign is on my refrigerator513J3M3K38L._AC_SY580_.jpg
 
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PinkDiaperSissy

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it’s not grammatically correct as they/them are plural forms

They/them can be both singular and plural depending on the context. People use it that way all the time. Regardless, grammar is a description of language and it's structure, not a guide for what a language "should" be. In day to day life, language shifts and changes all the time with use. Grammar guides and dictionaries are always playing catch up.

To answer your original question, "they/them" is always safe. Despite being non-binary, I personally don't care too much about pronouns, but knowing folks who do: they/them is a safe default.
 
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neurallink

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Milianna said:
I tend to use usernames. No one has ever had a problem with that. If I've seen them around, then I use their pronouns if I've seen how they refer to themselves. But generally, I use names or they/them just to avoid any issues. No one has ever complained about they/them or their username
Same here. Easier that way, especially in the office with so many people that I’ve not yet met except briefly/virtually on a teams call or via email.

But I also consider “guys” to be gender neutral. As in referring to groups of people (mixed or otherwise).
 

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I refer to people as they desire, until then if it’s pretty clear I assume. If I can’t tell, then they/them.
 
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ade

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neurallink said:
But I also consider “guys” to be gender neutral. As in referring to groups of people (mixed or otherwise).
I have a theory, based on patterns of use, that 'guy' and 'guys' have different origins of meaning (but muddled together in the melting pot of America):
'guy' (disregarding the original french), when referring to a person, refers to a scruffily-dressed man ('scruffbag' is the English equivilent, where it's not in reference to an effigy [of Guy Fawkes]);
'guys' comes from the french 'gars', meaning 'lads/boys'.
 

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dpcare said:
I think the whole idea of using they/them is about equivalent to referring to yourself in the third party
Anemone is inclined to agree that it can be a little jarring but the distinction would have to be that one is the mark of consideration.

Similar to how using "sir/madam" is about equivalent to [any number of horrid options] when addressing a person.

Ultimately I'd argue the singular they/them is more akin to using "you" in the place of "one". Of course as this latter option does not invite the other othering of a marginalised group one rarely sees it raised as an issue.
 

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Talking about English pronouns in general, I use Early Modern English ones for coloquial speech. Concretely, "thou" for second person singular and "ye" for second person plural.

When I'm at work or I have to follow a more polite or mainstream speech, I use "you" for both.

Talking about gender, I try to figure out the gender beforehand. If I'm successful, I use the usual ones for cis and trans, and "zie/zier/zier/ziers/zierself".

If I fail, I try my best to refer just to the username. If I use an incorrect one, I apologize and proceed to use the right one.

dpcare said:
I think the whole idea of using they/them is about equivalent to referring to yourself in the third party
That's partially why I use specific second person singular pronouns, I find it widely accepted, but it's less refined and even medieval.
 
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Anemone

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IDKaLittle said:
I know there‘s a ‘gender’ selection in one’s profile, and maybe I’m being pedantic, but to me that’s gender and not necessarily identity. I‘ve looked at people’s profiles to try and make a determination but unless I’m missing it, I don’t usually see anything there about the gender they chose in their profile.

What are y’all’s thoughts on this?
Having just reread this: how is gender separate from identity?
And surely the gender selection in the profile covers the gender they chose therein? Maybe I'm being dense but that bit really confuses me.
 

IDKaLittle

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Anemone said:
Having just reread this: how is gender separate from identity?
And surely the gender selection in the profile covers the gender they chose therein? Maybe I'm being dense but that bit really confuses me.
Someone’s bio gender could be one thing but they identify differently. I guess within the context of what they choose in their profile, I would think one would choose their identity. Either way I don’t see where it shows in their public profile so it’s probably a moot point.

This came up for me while I was writing a reply and I didn’t want to make an assumption about gender identity. In the sentence I was writing, the structure was complex enough that I was finding it difficult to word things while sticking to they/them/their - it just got confusing to read. I was pretty sure this person was a he but again I didn’t want to make assumptions.

Someone got my gender wrong in a reply once and that’s ok I didn’t mind I just corrected them and moved on but I can see how this might be a bigger deal for someone else. I want to try and be respectful and inclusive is all.
 

neurallink

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Hemix said:
If I'm successful, I use the usual ones for cis and trans, and "zie/zier/zier/ziers/zierself".

Seeing that written our brings back nightmares of German classes: Der, Die, Das, Den, Dem... I got by in Germany with "De" when I got stuck.
 
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Prillprillprill

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dpcare said:
I think the whole idea of using they/them is about equivalent to referring to yourself in the third party
In what way?

I love refering to myself in the third person. It makes me feel important 😜
 
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Anemone

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IDKaLittle said:
Someone’s bio gender could be one thing but they identify differently. I guess within the context of what they choose in their profile, I would think one would choose their identity. Either way I don’t see where it shows in their public profile so it’s probably a moot point.
I'm not sure why anyone would identify themselves as something they do not identify with. Biological sex is invariably secondary in non-biological contexts.

IDKaLittle said:
This came up for me while I was writing a reply and I didn’t want to make an assumption about gender identity. In the sentence I was writing, the structure was complex enough that I was finding it difficult to word things while sticking to they/them/their - it just got confusing to read. I was pretty sure this person was a he but again I didn’t want to make assumptions.
Not to sound presumptuous but if a passage relies on differentiated pronouns to be intelligible it probably would benefit from revision regardless. Substitution should not have so great an effect, at least in my unsolicited opinion.

IDKaLittle said:
Someone got my gender wrong in a reply once and that’s ok I didn’t mind I just corrected them and moved on but I can see how this might be a bigger deal for someone else. I want to try and be respectful and inclusive is all.
That's an entirely reasonable, laudable even, goal and I do hope you feel some confidence as your spirit of curtesy is self evident and - no doubt - appreciated.
 

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Milianna said:
I tend to use usernames.
That's me as well, most of the time. There actually aren't many situations here where I find myself reaching for a gender pronoun. I'm usually not talking about other ADISCers unless it's the OP or somebody I'm quoting, in which case "you" is universally applicable and even manages to be grammatically correct.
 
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IDKaLittle

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Anemone said:
Not to sound presumptuous but if a passage relies on differentiated pronouns to be intelligible it probably would benefit from revision regardless. Substitution should not have so great an effect, at least in my unsolicited opinion.
I agree. The reply in particular that brought this up for me was a sentence in which I was referring back and forth about two different related people in third person, and they/them/their was confusing because of the duality of their plural nature. I ended up revising the sentence but it was one of those grammar conundrums that took some working out before it made sense, where using typical pronouns would have made it easier. I write a lot so this sort of stuff sticks out sometimes.
 
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Hemix

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Anemone said:
I'm not sure why anyone would identify themselves as something they do not identify with. Biological sex is invariably secondary in non-biological contexts.


Not to sound presumptuous but if a passage relies on differentiated pronouns to be intelligible it probably would benefit from revision regardless. Substitution should not have so great an effect, at least in my unsolicited opinion.


That's an entirely reasonable, laudable even, goal and I do hope you feel some confidence as your spirit of curtesy is self evident and - no doubt - appreciated.
Everything in the long term is biological, sex isn't a sole thing, it's actually a consortium of traits (phenotype) split in groups (genital, chromosomal, brain, etc.).

The thing is that, because of humankind still early history as a civilization, two of those phenotypes became very common and/or favored socially, and early misinterpretation of science led to raise outdated information about what we know about sex.

It's perfectly compatible to have traits common with one of the "traditional phenotypes" (I don't know a better way to call it, we know them as "cis men and cis women") and to also have a brain that has little or nothing to do with them, it's still biological.

Be it a receptor activating when it's not the time or a signaling protein not expressing, whatever, biology isn't always black nor white, and that doesn't mean thou'rt defective, it's just another route was followed, it happens very often for anything, that's one of the key elements of evolution and that will be the rule for us, unless we turn into robotic clones...
 
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Anemone

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IDKaLittle said:
I agree. The reply in particular that brought this up for me was a sentence in which I was referring back and forth about two different related people in third person, and they/them/their was confusing because of the duality of their plural nature. I ended up revising the sentence but it was one of those grammar conundrums that took some working out before it made sense, where using typical pronouns would have made it easier. I write a lot so this sort of stuff sticks out sometimes.
Wouldn't it be similarly confusing if they were both "he" or both "she"? I do agree that it can quickly get confusing, I don't like the singular "they" but it's the best we have as "it" does not feel right as an address for a person.
 
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