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Re: what gender pronoun do you use?

I received the titular question. There is nothing substantive to quote from the rest of the message. Below is my reply.


To your question: I don’t specify a pronoun. You are welcome to use whatever works for you: he, she, ze, they, etc.

Now allow me to elaborate at some length in order to (i) avoid misunderstandings and (ii) state my opinion on the broader topic.

I think individual self-determination is of paramount importance. It is a matter of expressing oneself in freedom (e.g. without fear) but also of living in dignity. This extends to how people like to be named. For example, someone called “Katerina” will feel besieged if people keep addressing them as “Kat” against their will. Such is a case of bullying, harassment, and, ultimately, dehumanisation.

To this end, pronouns are not a separate category. We treat them as part of the general issue of self-determination, freedom of expression, and dignity. This does not trivialise them: on the contrary, it couches them in terms of their significance in a legal-institutional order that recognises human liberty and safeguards fundamental rights.

There is this notion in certain ultra-conservative circles that the choice of pronoun is an extreme leftist stratagem whose ulterior end is malevolent. In such cases, “leftism” is a caricature of some prevalent “cultural Marxism” or equivalent bugaboo that is supposed to be prevalent in all centres of power, which is ostensibly promoted by genuinely crazy folks who work laboriously for the annihilation of all values. There is no nuance involved, no sincerity in addressing the actual points of the argument. “Leftism” in this context is all about using hyperbole in pursuit of creating fear and polarising proponents. Whereas I think we need to remain calm and avoid demonising the other sides to the debate. Picking a pronoun is an extension of human rights. If you (the general “you”, not you in particular) believe human rights are some insane leftist conspiracy, may the gods of this world bless your soul.

With those granted, I must clarify why I personally do not have a preferred pronoun. To me, it does not matter what others think about my personhood. It has no impact in how I perceive myself. For as long as there is no bullying involved, I am indifferent to whether others think I am a man or not and what kind of concepts are fastening upon those constructs.

Some further reading on my website, in case you have not checked it out already:

I do care about oppression though. If anyone wants to force me to conform with their associations of what constitutes man, non-man, and the like, then I will defend myself and send them all to hell.

To be clear: this makes me an ally of the LGBT+ cause, though I do not identify as a member or non-member. In terms of liberty, I broadly agree with this movement for the reason I already explained about human rights and concomitant freedoms. What I personally do not encourage and endorse about certain narratives in the LGBT+ community is the fact that they remain trapped in the representations of the oversexualised cultural milieu they spring from or are juxtaposed with.

In a traditional society, people were divided on whether they had a penis or vagina. “You have this, therefore you must be that and the other.” Such was the thinking, with an emphasis on the normative claims: the “must be” part. With LGBT+, we escape from the narrow confines of this binary, which is a step in the right direction. Though we are still prompted to define ourselves in terms of our sexuality; we continue to elevate sex and sexual preferences as the single most important factor in one’s selfhood. To my mind, this goes from the old way of having two boxes to put people in, to the new modus operandi of creating a few more boxes, all centred around how genitalia are—or should be—used. Better than nothing, though I want to see more.

What I prefer to do is to appreciate people on the basis of their innate qualities, talents, hobbies, interests. Do they enjoy art? Are they thoughtful fellows with whom I can hold a rewarding conversation? Do they have a sense of humour? Are they nice to strangers? This sort of thing. Notice how none of that is about what they do or don’t do in their bed, who they love and with which modalities, et cetera. I don’t mind if one is sexual in a given manner or asexual, romantic or aromantic, and all permutations in-between. Show me the real person, the fully fledged human being that is necessarily not just a function of sex.

By “fully fledged” I mean that we are not limited to carnal needs or desires. We have emotions and reason, and we can connect with the cosmos with what is typically known as “spirituality” (let’s take that word at face value for now, though do read more about my philosophy, if you haven’t done it already).

To me, what matters is that we find the other fellow travellers in our life. Those who have a sense of wonder about the world; who remain dubitative and inquisitive on what the cosmos has to offer; who are not burdened by social expectations and peer pressure regarding all those normativities about love, work, social standing, and the like; who want to live this short life we have without fear and without pretences.

So yes, call me whatever pronoun works for you. And, please, remain tolerant of diversity: do not commit the hubris of purporting to know the truth—you don’t. At its core, pluralism and respect for subjectivity is underpinned by a disposition of honesty, of admitting that we are not omniscient and have not figured out everything. Let there be room for doubt, for creativity, and for experimentation.