implicit misgendering

What’s the linguistics behind this, Kirby?

General premise:

Strategy 1 for being cooperative: don’t say false stuff

  • don’t just blatantly lie
  • don’t just randomly guess when you have no idea what you’re talking about.
  • don’t say a pronoun you believe doesn’t apply here
  • don’t guess a pronoun if you aren’t sure

Strategy 2 for being cooperative: give an appropriate amount of info

  • don’t give too little information — don’t be weirdly vague and mysterious? Don’t leave out information that would be useful for the conversation? That’s weird, don’t do that.
  • don’t give too much information — don’t go into extreme unnecessary detail about every damn thing!
  • don’t use a gender-neutral pronoun when a more specific one applies. Gender-neutral pronouns give us zero information about someone
  • don’t use a gendered pronoun when it’s not necessary or relevant. Gendered pronouns give us more information than we might necessarily want

Avery* told me ____ might not take that job offer from gougle** because of the twidder** drama.”

Strategy 3 for being cooperative: try to say relevant stuff

Strategy 4 for being cooperative: don’t be an asshole

Okay, so what pronouns SHOULD I use for strangers, then?

Circular sign on a cafe door, around the edges are rainbow colors and the text “Until they say, use them or they”
A cafe sign telling us about the they/them default — it’s just like this in Seattle
  • Am I using the same strategy for every stranger I meet, or am I using one strategy (she/he) for people with some gender presentations, and another strategy (they) for others?
  • Am I casually using they for some people and not others?
  • Would the Virginia House Republicans be okay with how I’m using this pronoun? (Here’s a hint: if they might approve, you’re doing it wrong!)
  • Would I do this in front of the person I’m talking about? Do I only do it when they’re not around?
  • Am I getting weirdly angry or defensive when someone asks me NOT to use they for them?
  • Would I be okay if someone used they about me in this context? Would I be okay if someone used they about my mother in this context?

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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.

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Kirby Conrod

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.

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