My pronouns? "I Am"/"Ami"
I've been considering gender a lot over the past few years. Not just because my husband has transitioned/is transitioning. And not just because the world is on fire with transgender people thrown in like fuel. But also because I no longer know what the concept means as it relates to my beingness.
I wrote about my ongoing exploration for the most recent issue of Sinister Wisdom in a piece called A Name Like Chocolate, Melting on My Tongue.
And while I didn't say a lot about pronouns in that essay, they've been part of my puzzling.
Pronouns are a hot topic, divisive and personal. Cisgender people typically feel happily connected to the pronouns associated with their sex assignment at birth. Trans people often feel alienated from that assignment, and are eager to claim terms which authentically describe them. Gender critical people panic or fist pound about what the words "male" and "female" mean, and how they should be used, else the very gates of hell break open to unleash doomsday horses into a sinful world.
Then there are non-binary people. People who don't feel deeply connected to concepts of either male or female. People who feel deeply connected to both. People who flow between the two. People who want to reject gender concepts altogether.
I'm one of those who feels somewhere in the space between, having lived a life of embracing stereotypical femininity, while ignoring my aspects of stereotypical masculinity. But that embrace is over. My eyes are open to the toxicity of what society demanded I "be,", and free to consider what gender means. For the world. For others. For children. For my husband. For me.
Non-binary people have a variety of pronoun options. Terms like they/them can be a good fit for people who actively experience both genders. Terms like she/they or he/they can work well for people who are somewhere in between poles, but tend toward one end. Terms like ze/zir can feel right for those who want to disengage from previously existing pronouns. Some people even prefer to use the term "it."
These usages are not proscriptive, and there are additional options. But none of these fits how I feel.
Cue the evangelical/fundamentalist/orthodox outrage!
There are lots of languages which use non-gendered third-person pronouns with no difficulty whatsoever. Turns out it's not actually abomination; it's merely language.
Christians claim we're made in the image and likeness of God, who repeatedly refers to themself as "they," and when questioned about what to call them in Exodus 3, proclaimed themself to be "I AM." Jesus repeated this "amness" several times in the Gospel of John. And now you and I exist as brothers and sisters of that same Jesus, and bearers of God's very Spirit.
If that's too much for you, or for our culture (after all: Jesus was killed for such blasphemy), then perhaps we go with the Koine Greek phrase ἐγώ εἰμι (ego eimi), shortened to just "eimi", which sounds a lot like the French word "ami;" an affectionate term for friend.
My hope is that eventually English (and other languages) will shift away from gendered pronouns and the problem will drift into oblivion. Of course the crowd who's hungry for outrage will find some new stars on the bellies of thars over which to crow their superiority and condemnation. But it would be one step toward just letting us all simply BE.
In the meantime, I'd love to see a movement of people proclaiming with me that their pronouns are simply this: