Dear Liberal Women,

Thank you for trying to be an ally when I tell you that my pronouns are they/them. I believe you when you say this is new for you and that you are trying. I believe you that you mean no disrespect. I am not angry that you misgendered me.

But I am frustrated.

Please do not tell me (or any other non-binary or trans person you meet) that:

  1. It’s as hard for me to remember your pronouns as it was for you to discover your identity.” With all due respect, you’re assuming a lot about my identity and my journey. Please do not compare your difficulty to respect me, with your presumption of difficulty for me to accept myself.
  2. “I’m just going to call you by your name. That’s way easier for me to remember.” Yes, you are more than welcome to refer to me by name, but this isn’t about your comfort or your memory. I’m not asking you to only refer to me by name, only to be more conscious of how you use gendered language to describe me.
  3. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! I’m trying, and then I realize I called you a her and then I get flustered and forget what I was saying entirely. I’m sorry!” I believe you. But this isn’t about your comfort or how flustered you may get by saying the wrong thing. I’m not angry at you. But rather than apologizing profusely, please try a simple correction: “I was just telling her–I mean them, that…” A simple correction is far more respectful and causes less of a scene.
  4. “I’m older. This is just really new for me/this is the first time I’ve encountered this [or someone like you] before.” I know you’re trying to learn and I appreciate your effort. But I don’t need an explanation on why you’re having a hard time. I don’t need to know I’m the exception or anomaly in your life. To be honest, that makes me feel like my existence is an imposition.

Again, thank you trying to be an ally. Thank you for taking me seriously when I tell you I’m not a woman and for asking how I identify. I’m sure you are a liberal person who believes in human rights and who would never purposefully make me feel unwelcome. But please know you are still making me feel unwelcome because you are putting your comfort first.

Thank you for your time,

An Agender Person


I Came Out to My Students…

and nothing happened. I teach college composition and the 22 eighteen-year-olds didn’t challenge me when I asked everyone to go around the room and say their name, their proposed major and their pronouns. “I’ll model,” I said. “Hello! My name is ____. I studied ____ in undergrad. I use they/them pronouns. If I were a woman I might use she/her and if I were a man I might use he/him.”

A number of my students were confused on providing their pronouns, but that’s to be expected. It’s still a relatively new concept and even when I used to identify as a woman, I would still get students who were confused. But even a few weeks into the semester, no one has challenged me, or laughed, or asked invasive questions. Sure, I have to remind people not to call me a Miss or a Ma’am, but I know they mean it out of respect.

I almost didn’t come out. I almost convinced myself that being an authority figure at the front of the room would be difficult enough when I look younger than I am (and I’m pretty young) and when I outwardly present as female. Why add another layer of stress when it was already a struggle to be taken seriously?

But I’m a graduate student in addition to being an instructor and I thought back to a class I took last semester where a brilliant professor would reference her female partner and how safe and comforting that knowledge was to me as a queer student. She made queerness accepted and normalized with such a simple turn of her speech.

And so, when I want to back away and hide myself behind my female presentation, I remember how I felt in my professor’s class and I choose vulnerability instead. I owe my students that same level of safety.