I've decided to try out they/them pronouns, though not because she/her has been feeling uncomfortable or inaccurate. Many aspects of society's definition of femininity appeal to me - I love wearing twirly skirts, having soft vulnerable conversations, feeling the curves of my body and stretching it into graceful positions. When I've reflected on gender in the past, I've noticed how attached I am to femininity and concluded that I should identify as a woman and use she/her pronouns. But recently I've been wondering how much of that attachment has come from spending my life assuming I'm a girl and being treated as one, and I like the idea of challenging those assumptions and seeing what happens.
It feels scary to create some distance from things I like. I find comfort in familiar femininity, in the box that people have put me in, in a box that's simple and already set up for me. But the assumptions people make about each other based on gender can be very harmful, and that's something I've believed for many years. Being socialized as a man or woman comes along with so many expectations for things like hobbies, career, personality traits, style, and experiences of emotions. My hope is that using they/them pronouns and gender neutral nouns (e.g. person instead of woman) won't feel like pressuring myself to stop enjoying conventionally feminine things, but rather be giving my future self an easier time enjoying what I enjoy regardless of how those things are gendered.
I hope that these changes will not only shift the way I think about myself, but also shift the way others think about me and about gender more broadly. I want others to notice how they think about me differently when using different pronouns for me. I want to encourage others to reflect on how they've been influenced by societal expectations of gender performance and distance themselves from those expectations of how they "should" be. In my ideal world, people's perceptions of others and themselves would be much less connected to a concept of gender, and using they/them for myself feels like a way to move the world a little more in that direction.
some excerpts from posts that helped me explore these ideas
Yeah, I think the thing that’s hard about gender is that it is literally fake. Like the definition is literally a sort of recursive, well gender is this social construct that we’ve created around being male or female or both or neither, and so it’s a very localized social project and if you’ve ever done a group project, group projects suck shit and everyone’s on a different page about what they want it to look like and some people are putting a lot of effort in and some people are putting like no effort in.
And so not only is there a group project you’re doing about gender but everyone else also has their groups and their group projects about gender and somehow we’re supposed to take this, a mess, and make it also into a system that we run our whole society off of, whether it’s legally or medically or whatever.
from Episode 100A of the Gender Reveal podcast
I feel pretty unsure that the characteristics that go with being socialized female/male have to be permanent, or long term, and certainly not for everyone. Given that gender seems likely to be for the most part, a social construct that we learnt to perform each day, presumably gender can change daily, or minute to minute depending on how one is feeling or who one is with. And, in my opinion, that’s a great thing.
from Fuck all gender pronouns, by Zarina
I eventually switched to they/he, and after a while of that, dropped the he. When I made that choice, it was primarily to free myself from the trap of thinking of myself as the sort of person who has to act in “manly” ways, and it was quite effective at that.
from Gender, in Wesley’s Notebook