I’ve started to wear an Ask Me About My Pronouns button. I’m not officially out as non-binary, haven’t officially asked anyone to use they/them pronouns for me, but I’m experimenting. I want people to ask. I want my friends to ask about my pronouns.
One friend did ask for my pronouns today. “Remind me again what your pronouns are?” Casual. Beautiful.
“I’m not sure just yet. I’m in the process of figuring that out,” I responded.
My friend’s friend–a graduate student in Women Gender and Sexuality Studies–scoffed and laughed at me. He said that until I was sure about my pronouns I shouldn’t wear the button. Remember, this is a graduate student in Women Gender and Sexuality Studies, who’s laughing at me.
I told him I wouldn’t take the button off. My friend sided with me. Casual. Beautiful. He said it’s okay if gender feels in flux. That doesn’t mean his friend’s reaction wasn’t invalidating. I’m in constant debates with a different friend who believes that if someone is offended, it’s their fault for not having a thick enough skin. I’m a writer; I have a damn thick skin. Except that when it comes to issues of gender and sexuality, well suddenly I’m paper, torn right open. It’s vulnerable. You’re placing your subjectivity–something only you can vouch to be true–on display for public debate. It’s vulnerable.
I’ve been out as asexual for ten years. Out as homo-romantic (not sure what the new term would be as I’m not a woman), for five. But coming out as non-binary is more visible. It’s a spoken reality of how I am understood and described. As an asexual person not in a relationship, I can skirt invisibly in hetero spaces.
The more I think about it (and I think about it a lot) the more I think I am nonbinary. And yet, I’m still framing my gender in terms of I think, rather than the definitive I am.
Ask me about my pronouns. Please. Ask. I want to give an honest answer, but I might need to work myself up that level of courage to be that visible.