A tearful tale, care of Kelsey Smoot, “a cultural and gender theorist, a writer, an advocate, and a poet”:
As a nonbinary trans person who uses they/them/theirs pronouns as my terms of address, I suppose I should be celebrating this influx of discourse on the proper usage of pronouns. Truthfully, I’m exhausted.
Exhausted. Because of course them is. And issuing all those terms of address can really take it out of a girl, even one with chin fluff.
Within several of my closest relationships, the fact that I require ungendered pronouns when referring to me in the third person has become the source of deep strain and disappointment.
I feel duped by some of the positive reactions from my friends and loved ones when I initially came out as transmasc/nonbinary. In retrospect, that was the easy part. I was the only one changing.
In the years since, I have come to find that I am in constant competition with my past. For a while, I flinched when I was misgendered but said nothing. Then, I began giving gentle reminders, followed by long-winded overtures of understanding. I felt guilty and embarrassed and made sure to emphasize that effort was all that mattered to me. Recently, though, I’ve begun pushing back: “You’ll have to do better” is my new refrain.
And who wouldn’t want a friendship based on an ultimatum? A demand that you will perceive what you are told to perceive. The issue, it seems, is that friends and relatives who have known Ms Smoot for some time, as a young woman and a girl, aren’t finding it easy to pretend or to forget what they know. And what they know necessarily casts some doubt on the whole themness business.