Since they come up so often recently, particularly in regards to policy on my discord server.
I think first it should be stated what the function of pronouns are. They are not necessarily for identifying the gender of the person you are talking to, but providing context in a conversation as to who is being referred to in a conversation.
I understand that because of that, there is, and should be a great deal of sensitivity as to what pronouns you use for someone, not just for the sake of acknowledging their gender, but because they are also identifying themselves as their given gender and it no longer becomes clear if you are even talking to them or about them if you use the wrong gender.
I sometimes misgender people but when I do I feel a great deal of shame about it, and try hard to correct myself. Even if the person is being abusive to me I still feel that shame, and it is never intentional. I do apologize and will continue to apologize to anyone that I have misgendered.
This being said, I feel I need to clarify the second paragraph again, that pronouns are primarily for specifying the target person in a sentence. The reason I am stressing this is because of the ever growing number of pronouns being “created” that do not serve the purpose of pronouns.
I will say straight up, that the issue of pronoun usage and gender assignment through the use of them, would be far better resolved if, instead of creating mounds of pronouns that noone knows the meaning of, and therefore never actually serves its linguistic purpose of assigning a sentence to an individual target.. to simply eliminating pronouns altogether and calling everyone by their given names. This might seem difficult linguistically, but it can’t be any more difficult than having to form a lookup table for everyone you interact with just so you get their pronouns right.
The way pronouns are being created for use now, makes them useless for their purpose. When you create your own pronouns, the linguistic shortcut it is supposed to represent becomes broken. I think that if we as a society have decided that this linguistic shortcut no longer serves us because it is no longer specific enough or can be gotten wrong and offend someone, then we should move to eliminate it, eliminate pronouns entirely.
Noone needs a pronoun that refers specifically to themselves, that is what names are for.
I understand the need for alternative pronouns at this point in time in society, but as a society, we should create them, define them, even define multiple to represent different points in the non-binary spectrum, then publish them so that everyone knows what the mean and they can be properly used. But lets not have everyone create their own set of pronouns. Pronouns need to have a meaning to have a purpose. If we are going to make pronouns meaningless, then once again, we should eliminate them, we can always go that route instead.
Given all of these points, I should note that I believe that the creation of pronouns that refer to ones kin-self, or ones sexual preference, or these new emoji pronouns, these are improper and patently absurd use of pronouns.
How do you even pronounce an emoji pronoun? Do you pronounce it by the Unicode name for it, its codepoint, or its short name? Does everyone interpret it differently because its a picture, and then there is offense taken if the interpretation is wrong?
A kin type, a race, a species, a sexual preference, all these things being made into pronouns, make pronouns not work for their intended purpose. At the same time, I see that in a non-binary spectrum of gender, its clear we need more than he/she/they. I believe that we should have more pronouns for different points on the gender spectrum but we do not need them to become some new form of additional identifier for a person or class of person, we actually have other forms of that.
This is why on my Discord server we have some restrictions on pronoun assignment. I do of course allow people to publish their alternative gender pronouns, but not the following types, because:
Your kin type, is not a gender. It is a kin type. If you have swallowed the Tumblr narrative that this is the otherkin way, then you have been educated stupid. Separate rant already once posted in this blog: Otherkin does not come from Tumblr.
Your sexual preference is not a gender. Do you really want to be referred to in casual conversation by the type of person you prefer to be with?
Your race is not a gender and it’s probably offensive to other members of the race being used there, to hear it used like that.
Emojis are not genders. (Honestly this is the newest stupidity I have found out there and the motivator for this post).
Turning things that are nouns or proper nouns, into pronouns by adding suffixes, is a Tumblr disease and if you are doing this, please understand that on Tumblr you might look progressive for doing this but the moment you start interacting with the real world people are going to find it, and you, to be educated stupid.
TL;DR: We either need defined, meaningful pronouns or we need to eliminate pronouns. Pronouns that are too specific, refers to things that are already nouns, or are damn emoji? Are dumb.
In my honest opinion, “they” is completely fine as an other. It’s not offensive to me that I don’t get a special pronoun because I know that I’m not normal, male and female are the norm, like it or not “they” is an other category and we are that “other”.
He, she, they, it and their various tenses are the complete list of pronouns in English. We already have defined, meaningful pronouns.
I do not believe that we as a society should shut down the discussion as to whether we might need some more pronouns to represent non-binary genders, but I do believe that if we are going to have them, we have to define them as a culture, and not leave it up to individuals to just make their own, as that’s leading to, well what you see on Tumblr now.
One can argue whether or not it hurts those who are changing gender (and it almost certainly does), but it’d be hard to deny that it also hurts the usefulness of pronouns themselves.