How to do the absolute minimum (with pronouns)

Kirby Conrod
1 min readDec 4, 2017

If you’re having trouble using someone’s pronouns*, here’s some advice on how not to be a dingus about it:

  1. Slow down! Plan your speech! We would rather you talk carefully and thoughtfully if it means you can meet our needs
  2. If you’re corrected, LISTEN. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been talked over while trying to correct someone. Cultivate awareness
  3. Don’t make excuses. That’s not interesting or helpful for us, and it sounds like you’re trying to convince us to let you misgender us
  4. If you mess up, correct yourself briefly and don’t make a big deal out of it. We’d rather it didn’t interrupt the whole conversation

There, that’s it! Four-step program from your friend Kirby on how to stop making your trans friends wince and cringe when you talk.

*Here’s what “having trouble” means: you’re trying your best, and you really want to meet this person’s needs, but sometimes mistakes just slip out, and you feel pretty bad about it. “Having trouble” does NOT mean that you are getting into arguments about whether this person deserves to have their preferences respected, or whether their preferences are legitimate.



Kirby Conrod

Dr. Conrod is a linguist and scholar sort of at large. They write about transgender stuff, the linguistics of pronouns, and ways to work with your brain.