Say My Name: Criticisms Against Neopronouns Are Invalid At Best
Many critics of the use of neopronouns say that it is completely unmanageable to keep track of people's pronouns when personal pronouns outside of the traditional set are in play.
July 14, 2021 at 4:03 am
Opinions are the writer’s own and not those of Blavity's.
The fight for the liberation of the LGBTQ+ community has been ongoing for decades. Over time, the specifics of this struggle have clearly shifted. The modern scene of queer liberation seems to be fighting for ensured equality, fighting against authoritarian anti-trans legislation and fighting for social representation as well as a relatively new issue: linguistic representation.
Neopronouns are new pronouns constructed to give people with queer gender identities linguistic representation within the English language. Neopronouns provide pronouns that give specific representation to people who do not fit into the traditional gender binary. A few examples are: ey/em/eir, xe/xem/xyr and ze/hir/hirs.
Without neopronouns, people with non-binary gender identities and presentations are relegated to simply use the non-gendered they/them pronouns, as opposed to having specific pronouns for their gender identity as those who use he/him and she/her pronouns do. Unfortunately, many neopronoun users often only get called they/them at best and are misgendered at worst.
Many critics of the use of neopronouns say that it is completely unmanageable and too challenging to keep track of people's pronouns when personal pronouns outside of the traditional set are in play. This criticism, however, is incorrect on multiple levels. These pronouns being "unmanageable" is not an excuse to invalidate the genders of others by not referring to them in their proper gendered terms; this task supposedly being strenuous does not mean that it is justified to deny people full recognition of their gender identities and presentations.
The previously mentioned criticism falls short of validity in another way, however. Third-person personal pronouns that reference people, the type of pronouns discussed in queer discourse, are simply used as shorthand for people's names. For every person we know, we remember one to three names typically. Even if every person in existence had their individual neopronouns, which is impossible given only a small proportion of the population is not cisgender, and an even smaller proportion use neopronouns, we would still only need to remember one additional shorthand "name" when we already typically remember multiple, often much longer, names per person.
For those still concerned with the memorability of neopronouns, if someone's pronouns are forgotten, just as with names, you can always ask.
As the fight for equitable linguistic representation for queer gender identities continues, the reactionary criticism that this fight garners will continue to fester; the main form of this being criticism of the neopronouns, the linguistic representation that is being fought for, themselves. Throughout all of the fronts of the continual push for proper and total queer liberation, including this one, one fact shown in this analysis remains wholly true: the reactionary criticism garnered has merely a facade of legitimacy and has no truth or basis in reality to it at all.