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Gender Identity and Why I Prefer to Be Addressed by ‘They’


Opinion: Gender Identity and Why I Prefer Being Addressed by 'They'In today’s culture, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to be upfront about their gender and sexual identities. Miley Cyrus recently came out saying that she identifies neither as male nor female, but didn’t mention her preference of pronouns. Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender after hiding her true sense of self as a woman for sixty-five years. Don’t we want to live in a society where we are all free to express ourselves as we truly are and not feel hesitant, or even fearful? I do.

I am, what people perceive as, “A female bodied, female presenting, straight, woman.” These words are not really the things with which I identify. Female bodied: Born with a female body. Yes, I was, but I don’t always necessarily feel that way. Female presenting: Dresses like a woman. I do that most of the time, but don’t when I feel differently. Straight: Attracted to the opposite sex. This I am, but doesn’t mean I am attracted to the most manly of men (which is another broadly descriptive term ranging from bi-sexual to queer, genderfluid, or people that just don’t go by the stereotypical male outline) all the time. Woman: Female. This is the category in which I get placed before all the others. But I self-identify with things that are entirely different than any of these labels.

When I look down at my body, I have don’t necessarily identify as a woman, nor a man.  This can leave someone in limbo; sometimes it even leaves me unsure as to how to dress (manly/womanly). I don’t know what spurs these sorts of feelings, but I just sometimes will feel crawly in my skin, because it just doesn’t fit. Where do you go from there? There are so many words that are not mentioned in today’s society that need to be addressed: Queer, bisexual, asexual, gender-queer, femme, gender-fluid, cis-man, cis-woman, and many more. There are millions of individuals who identify with one of these words, so why aren’t they spoken of? So many societal structures prevent us from fully expressing ourselves.

I live in NYC, so thankfully, I feel accepted as someone who classifies as gender-queer, queer/straight, and sometimes even asexual. People throughout the world don’t have this liberty and feel confined to be a heterosexual person of the body gender in which they were born. Identifying as queer, I personally prefer “they” and “them” pronouns vs. “she,” “her,” or “he,” “him.”

“They” is a nonspecific way to address someone who doesn’t identify with a certain gender. This request is extremely important and is hurtful when not addressed properly.  When finally coming to terms with how I wanted to be addressed, I was ready to scream out this self-discovery to everyone, and finally have people talk to me or about me with the correct pronoun, only to be denied and let down. I posted on Facebook the following:

“Hey friends! I feel best with and therefore would like to be referred to as they/them rather than she/her. They feels more appropriate with how I self-identify. If you have any questions let me know!”

My responses were a mixture of complete understanding and support, and from others, complete obliviousness and obnoxiousness:

“Can I call you “it”? –asked someone.

“Hello ‘they’, I would like to be referred to ask ‘king *****’, as I would feel better if I were a king. Rather than just Mr.” –someone decides this is somehow anywhere in the same realm as my gender identity.

No, “it” is not at all an appropriate way to address someone (unless they were to particularly request it), for “it” is referring to an object, and I am a person. Also, how could one compare being wanting to be called ‘king’ to how I feel in my skin? Being snarky and sarcastic about someone’s gender preference does not make you seem intelligent. It may be a bit difficult to adjust to these reference changes, but even putting in the effort will be greatly appreciated by those whom request it.

So please, read up on some identity alternatives if you’re oblivious to the options, and try to understand and be respectful. As for me, I hope sharing this article will have people address me in the correct way, for it feels great. And that someone out there learns to do the same for a person they know!

Also by DayRu: What I Learned from Being in an Open Relationship

Vegan Dating in the Age of Swiping

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Photo: Mandee Carter via Flickr



Contributor at Peaceful Dumpling
DayRu is a young woman living in NYC dealing with the ins and outs of dating in, well, basically every variety. Living in NYC since age 13, DayRu was once a ballet dancer at Lincoln Center, but has now evolved into a biotechnology student at BMCC. When she’s not on (usually horrible) dates, she is being a vegan food lover and a terrible bowler, waiting for her moment to nail a perfect score. She is constantly soul-searching as well as searching the city for new things to do and new people to chat with. DayRu is an open book and is eager to share her stories and knowledge with the lovers of Peaceful Dumpling! Follow DayRu on Instagram @daryenr.
  • Tuhar

    I like this sentiment. I think identifying yourself is the first step towards finding happiness. I think that anyone should be called whatever they prefer to be called, and gender should be something that doesn’t really come into play with true emotions. If you feel love towards another person, then by all means, that love is correct.

    That said, I think you could easily make the same argument for the guy who wanted to be called ‘king’. If you identify yourself as a regal or divine entity, it can be very difficult to find support to follow that path. Just as following a path of gender discovery is also difficult, a path of higher self-esteem can also be wrought with people who don’t fully understand or support you, and could even take actions that they may not know would offend someone. At my high school, we had someone who went by hrh – his royal highness. Even the case for someone who wishes to be called ‘it’. Pronouns are a difficult group of language, as the address-er and addressee have to see eye to eye in order for it to work, and in this quantum flux of radical engineering, that isn’t always the easiest thing to accomplish. It does feel great when you’re seen for what you truly think you are, and it feels even better to see someone else as what they truly are. Magic happens when you can both see each other equally.

    • DayRu

      I definitely agree! My response to the person who wanted to be referred to as ‘king’ was that “whatever makes you feel comfortable in your skin, I respect!” 😀


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