Pronouns are a problem.
They’re not the biggest problem, really. I consider them pretty far down on my list. I’m more worried about, like…getting kicked and harrassed or whatever because of my presentation. Rightfully so, apparently, as I got that in Oxford a few weeks ago.
So, being called ‘she’ has been relegated to one of those nice things that makes me smile and feel good about myself. A little bit of being seen as who I am, rather than this 6’2” trans woman with a frame that’s mostly a sort of squishy rectangle. It feels good, and I’d like people to do more of it, but it feels unimportant.
Still, pronouns are a problem. They may not cause much of dysphoria for me, but they do for quiet a few people. Misgendering like that is a way of having something integral to yourself, to your identity, denied. Misgendering says “your presentation isn’t up to my standards, and that’s more important to methan you as a person”, or worse, “my memory of you before transition is more important to me than you as you sit before me.” It sucks. It hurts.
To then have our requests snidely tossed back at us with, “well, I identify as an attack helicopter”, reducing identity to a joke, is a way to deny not only us as genderful or genderless individuals, but to deny all folks along the spectrum.
I did a little bit of research on the matter (well, a cursory googling), and the meme of “I identify as an attack helicopter” first cropped up in March 2014. Three years ago, it felt like folks had time to attack trans individuals, and we had time to fight back. To fight back against the fact that our very willingness to explore our identities and find out what feels good for us wasn’t worth just ignoring or denying, but destroying.
Fast forward three years, and here we are: our very willingness to take use of our roles in society and try to do what we feel is right and just isn’t just worth ignoring or denying, but destroying. Here we are as individuals being reduced to enemies of those who would strive after the very same nationalist ideals that drove us to war, those ideas that normalized the murder of not just individuals, but whole classes of individuals.
These are correlations, of course, not causes. Folks coming out as trans and insisting on their proper pronouns did not create transphobia. Transphobia existed long before Guuse posted about attack helicopters on TF2 chat.
Ditto our political situation at the moment. Us striving for what we believe is right — equality, respect, a government and society that works for all of its members rather than just for itself or the richest — didn’t lead to the violence of nazis against…well, anyone not a nazi.
No, what those things did, trans folks asserting identity and us standing up for our belief in the importance of society’s responsibility to care for all of those who form it, is made us aware of just how evil and self-serving some can be. It’s made many of us willing to fight back, to make our presence felt in opposition to those who would reduce the responsibilities of society to applying only to them, and only to their purposes.
As well we should. Stand by your pronouns. Their yours and fuck anyone who says otherwise. Stand by the fact that there’s no room for nazism in our world, and seriously, fuck anyone who says otherwise.