Hello guys. This blog post is in response to Ashley Mardell’s most recent video entitled I MESSED UP. (ABC’s of LGBT ‘Oops’ edition). This blog might make a bit more sense if you watch the video first because I want to address Ashley and Milo directly, but you obviously don’t have to watch the video or even read this blog if you don’t want to.
Now, let’s get down to business. First of all, Ashley and Milo, thank you for making this. I had some qualms about the gender episodes of this series as well, but I wasn’t sure how to voice them since I am a cis-girl and I wasn’t entirely sure my qualms were right. Ashley, I am glad that you are continuing your channel’s conversation on gender. I think it is very important for people to learn about the different possibilities for gender and sexuality. (This is not saying gender and sexuality have anything to do with each other.)
I am so happy that the internet has given people more opportunities to learn about the experiences of others. Blogs like this one and videos like yours enable us to share and connect with others. I think that is an important step in the growing understanding that the world is gaining about the LGBT community. People like Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner are helping bring the conversation about gender to the mainstream and I think both ladies are doing a wonderful job.
Ashley, your endscreen thoughts mentioned people calling the conversation around gender “so tumblr” and “social justice-y” and I completely understand and feel the same way you do about it. The purpose of this gender conversation is to help people who don’t fit into the gender binary gain recognition and, as you said, validation. It is rude to not use the correct pronouns for a person. I don’t care if you don’t believe that they are trans. I do not care if you don’t believe them. They have asked that you use she/her pronouns or he/him pronouns or they/them pronouns when referring to them and it is your job to be respectful and use their correct pronouns. Hint: their correct pronouns are the ones they told you to use.
Let’s bring out a hypothetical story. Say you have a friend, Nina. She is your best friend, and she just told you a huge secret: she was physically abused by her mother as a child. Now, this is a huge secret and she’s asked you not to tell anyone ever. I’m assuming that you would respect her wishes, and not tell anyone. Not even your other friends or parents. Now, how does this relate to pronouns, you ask?
Someone’s pronouns aren’t usually a secret, but they are still a request that someone is asking of you. You wouldn’t disrespect your friend Nina and tell all your friends she’s got “mommy issues,” and that’s why she’s “so crazy.” So why are some people so quick to disrespect others who asked them to use different pronouns than the ones that you think should apply to them.
Imagine you are a girl. You know in your heart that you are a girl, but you like to wear your hair short, and lots of pants, and baggy shirts. Because of this, people often call you “Young man” or refer to you using he/him pronouns. How would you feel if you told them, “Actually, I’m a girl,” and they didn’t believe you. They continued to call you “young man” and “son.” How would that make you feel? That’s how most trans people feel when you don’t use their correct pronouns.
Just from looking at someone. You do not know who they are or what they are. Your mind automatically assigns them to one of two gender boxes our society has created based on their outward appearance, but that box does not always apply to where they fall on the gender spectrum. They may fit into a different box, or they may fit into two or three boxes. Or maybe they don’t fit into any box. If they tell you what box they fit into or don’t fit into, then it is your job to respect them, if only as a person, and categorize them that way in your head. It can be difficult sometimes, but it is only human decency.
That is why it is completely ridiculous for people to call the conversation about gender “so tumblr” and “social justice-y.” These labels don’t really apply. Recognizing someone’s gender is human decency, not a stunt to be “as social justice-y as possible.” As you said in your video Ashley, the conversation about gender is to help people feel validated, and there is no downside to that. The validation of one person does not affect your validation. Not one bit.
Please, readers, remember that people are people, no matter their gender or sexuality and people deserve the basic respect that you would give another human. Now go forth and learn more about gender. There are hundreds of wonderful resources that can teach you about the intricacies of gender and gender expression.
- Ashley’s other videos on gender
- Gender Spectrum.org
- Human Rights’ Campaign Information on Gender
- The Gender Wiki
What questions do you have on gender? What are your thoughts on gender expression and pronouns? Did I make a mistake in my explanation? Please comment below, and we can continue the discussion.
I’ll see you down in the comments.