a blog by J.M. Cottle
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Things I discovered during my June pronoun experiment

Last month I asked people to try using “he” pronouns for me, after spending much of my life hearing “she” and then asking for “they” and then letting people use whatever they wanted. Here are some things that I noticed:

  • It’s rare that I hear my own pronoun. I probably heard it three times over the course of the entire month. My partners are the ones who used it the most.
  • Being called J instead of my first name by most people feels a little odd, but pretty good. It felt good this month because I knew it meant people were remembering my experiment and doing their best to follow it.
  • Actually, hearing “he” made me feel the same way — odd, but good, because they were doing as I asked and they clearly cared.
  • To try out various pronouns without any pressure, head over to the Pronoun Dressing Room.
  • It’s better to be my partners’ boyfriend, not their girlfriend, when talking with people who know I’m genderless. It’s better to be their girlfriend, not their boyfriend, when talking to people who assume I’m a woman and assume they are women. In every instance I would rather be their partner. (Do you see the common thread here? I want to be read as queer. The more queer the better. I don’t care that much how it happens — it’s better to be seen as a lesbian or a guy-type trans person than straight and cis.)
  • Even though I was doing this experiment, it never once felt right to correct someone when they used a different pronoun than “he”. I am just not attached enough to any pronoun to want to correct people.
  • I’m not comfortable telling anyone at work anything about me, so they know me as my first name and as a woman and call me “she” and that’s fine.
  • Sometimes people had a hard time using “he”, but they didn’t want to use the wrong pronoun, so they reworded their sentences to be pronoun-free. I watched this happen mid-sentence a couple of times. I appreciate the effort, friends. <3
  • I wish everyone could talk about me pronoun-free all the time. That would be pretty neat. Inconvenient, but neat.
  • Being introduced to new people as J and saying unabashedly “my partner” this and that feels AWESOME. I am queer and you can tell within a few minutes of meeting me and I love it.

A month isn’t long enough for this experiment. It would be really great if you could all continue using “he” for another month. Maybe I’ll hear it a few more times! I’ll let you know. Thank you for your effort and your understanding and patience, everyone. I am a lucky person.

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