The Trouble With Pronouns

The Trouble With Pronouns

“Hi, my name is Gabriel and I use they/them pronouns.”

Sounds like an easy way to introduce yourself and your pronouns, doesn’t it? I thought it would be. That is, until I got a seasonal retail job.

Once I got that call to schedule an interview, I got excited. Excited at the prospect of finally having some sort of income coming in since I was let go from my previous one several months ago. The interview happened in two parts but, despite my low self-esteem, I managed to pass with flying colors and landed the job.

I was skipping my way home and tell my friends all about it, when my orientation would be and what my schedule would be like. It wasn’t until my friend asked me if I told them my pronouns during my interview that it hit me.They/them pronouns are hardly used among my own friends who are a part of the LGBTQ+ acronym, let alone coworkers. Despite the company’s strong support for LGBTQ+ folks, why was I afraid to let my coworkers and supervisors know?

I kept thinking to myself…

How exactly do I bring up pronouns? I know for a fact that I want to be stealth at work – or at least not bring attention to myself. I’ve casually asked if we could put stickers on the name tag but apparently it’s not allowed so that takes “they/them” stickers off the table.

Is there ever a good time to bring it up? So far, I’m still fairly new to the team and I haven’t found that “good time” to bring it up to everyone’s attention. Do I introduce myself with my name and say my pronouns right after that? Or should I make a self compromise to myself saying that while they/them pronouns are ideal and would make me happy, he/him pronouns are also acceptable?

Because as much as I am all for breaking the binary, let’s be honest, everyone who doesn’t know me personally will take one look at my growing “No Shave November” facial hair (thanks minoxidil!) and automatically register me as “male” and proceed with calling the “sir, bro, mister, etc.”.

Should I even bother to point it out to customers? This wasn’t too hard to figure out because, despite not having left my house much when I first started on T in fear of being misgendered, I was painfully aware that it’s going to – no, it WILL – happen. However, I will most likely never see them again and so I should save my energy where I need it most: work and handling customers.

So far, thankfully, I’m mostly addressed by my name and not by he/him pronouns. I don’t know if this pattern will continue or if I’ll ever have the courage to confront a coworker and say “hey, I go by they/them/theirs instead of he/him/his.”. But I’m almost positive that I’m not the only one dealing with this situation.

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