Gender and Social Pronouns!

Diversity is fabulous! AND jumping right into a truly diverse classroom without any preparation for what we might find is kind of a set-up for (unintentional) conflict and harm.

While we cannot prepare for everything that might come up, it’s definitely useful to have some context for working around gender diversity. With this blog entry, I’ve gathered a few basic resources that I recommend for thinking about gender and pronouns in social settings (like a classroom or a workplace). The 4 videos will take up a total of 12 minutes of your time (and will let you hear the voices lots of different transgender people talking about our lives).

  • If you need a more basic introduction to English pronouns, here is a more general 20 minute video from the Learn English Lab that might help!

Learn how to use pronouns respectfully in 3 minutes or less! Thank you to the Union for Reform Judaism for this fun introduction, which even gives a theological rationale!

Spend another 3 minutes thinking about social situations! This video from the University of Maryland looks at sharing pronouns (and not making assumptions)!

This one unpacks why pronouns matter in only 2.5 minutes! (Hint: It’s all about respect.) Thank you to Buzzfeed for gathering these voices!

Do you have another 3.5 minutes, for a little more nuance? Everybody has lots of feelings about pronouns. Underneath the details, it’s really all about relationships.

Frequently Asked Questions/Comments:

  • Isn’t they/them plural? It can be. But they/them singular has been in use for hundreds of years.
  • It’s too hard! While most people can’t just “decide” to rewire our brain, it’s not actually that hard. Like any new skill, it helps if we practice!
  • What can I do? Think of the person whose pronouns you are getting wrong and say a prayer or another sentence using their appropriate pronouns. Doing this for as little as 1 minute per day will help you rewire your brain–or find a conversation partner and work on it together!
  • Obviously, there are only two genders! Actually, the idea of two and only two genders is new. Classical Judaism had 6 genders. In Matthew 19:11-12, Jesus talked about 3 different kinds of eunuchs (who were neither men nor women). There is a wide diversity of gender identity across many cultures across time and around the world.
  • This is not what I was taught! You are not alone. Limiting how we think about gender is closely connected to white supremacy, colonization, and Christian supremacy. But, we can do better.
  • Why is this so complicated?! Actually, the basic concepts are really quite simple. The complications come from trying to sorting through and unlearn what we’ve been taught. A Story about Pronouns (video, children’s book) and The Gender Wheel (curriculm) are great examples of teaching tools for young children (who aren’t unlearning).
  • How can I learn more? The internet and this blog are full of resources. I’m also publishing books geared specifically toward giving Christian communities more theological resources around transgender, intersex, and non-binary experience!

Compiled by Mx Chris Paige on October 22, 2020 (adjustments October 28, 2020). Please be in touch with question and concerns.

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