Ask Hannah!

What do you think about the practice of indicating your pronouns (she/her/hers) after your name as is being advocated by many in the queer community? I, and I think like you, consider myself to be bi-gender or gender diverse (and a few other inadequate labels) I enjoy and am comfortable with my male persona but also know how important for my sanity it is to have time and space for Martha – my feminine persona or energy.

So when I sign a note sometimes as Martha I include (she/her/hers) but in truth I wonder if what I should put is (sometimes she/her and sometimes he/his) And maybe I should sign my name Martha/Joe with the above pronouns?

This is an excellent question.

It is, in a way, similar to the poorly termed “werewolf paradox” I wrote about recently.

Hannah is HER. In boy mode I am HE.

Together we are THEY.

When I am asked to provide my pronouns, I use the terms that align with the gender I am presenting as. So, it is either HE or SHE.

I do feel a twinge of… hm, dishonesty? when I check ‘him’ on a pronoun question as I often think ‘they’ would be a better representation for who I essentially am. My heart, soul, and body houses two genders, so THEY covers both.

But for the most part I present as one gender or the other. My other gender identity is rarely relevant when I am out in the real world. No one really cares or needs to know who HE is when Hannah is present. The opposite is also true, of course.

And yes, normalizing THEY is a positive thing, but I think it would present issues and open the door to conversations I don’t want to have if I identify as THEY to the people in my life that only know me as a HE.

So as far as the majority of the world is concerned, I am, in pronouns or in presentation, HE or SHE.

I absolutely appreciate when someone provides their pronouns, whether it’s on the nametag of a cashier or in the signature of a work email. This says to me “I acknowledge that one’s pronouns aren’t always obvious and I understand that gender is not binary.”

When Hannah is out in the real world, I feel that she is interacting with an ally when one provides their pronouns. I feel safer. One providing their pronouns doesn’t necessarily mean they are queer. Many of my straight/cis gender friends and colleagues have their pronouns on social media or in their professional communication.

Love, Hannah

Have a question for me?  Oh yes you do.  Ask me here!

8 thoughts on “Ask Hannah!

  1. Thank you for this! I think I will learn a lot on your site. I’m a cisgender, heterosexual ally who was a teacher (high school art) for 10 years, and learned how much my LGBTQ kids need allies in schools. I left teaching to earn my MSW, and have created a website dedicated to helping educators learn how to make their schools safer and more accepting for the LGBTQ students.

    I’m also having conversations with adolescents (and others) in my podcast, to share their voices (they have so much to say). This conversation reminds me of one I had recently with Bells, who said that sometimes they prefer they/them, and sometimes she/her, and sometimes he/him.

    Having the conversation allows me to ask how teachers can best approach pronoun usage, and be respectful of changing pronouns – I’m trying to ask the questions that will inform educators, who might not know how to ask those questions. I feel like your site will give me additional insight, which I appreciate! (As an ally, I realize that I will make mistakes, but I am always willing to acknowledge and learn from them when I do).

    Here are my interviews (I don’t profit from the site at all, it costs me a little money and quite a bit of time – but my only profit – and actually it’s huge – is feeling like I maybe am having a voice for positive needed change).


    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! My voice is not loud, but I’m determined to make it count! My heart breaks, I live in Florida … we must do better! Love returned! Lara


  2. This is a perplexing question for me. As a writer and English major referring to one person as “they” almost makes me cringe. Unfortunately, we are burdened with these archaic notions of gender tied to the romance languages. The irony, or course is that “they” and “them” are gender nonspecific. Some have proposed new, non-specific pronouns, but it is very difficult to change such things in a language. That being said, the general acceptance of Ms. tells us there is some hope that one day we might have a personal pronoun not bound by gender.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So, what if you don’t know the gender of the person that you are referring to? The car that just cut you off on the freeway? Why did _they_ do it? The person with a name that you can’t tell the gender by the name? Why would you have to pick “he” or “she” for _them_? To me it seems that the singular “they/them” already exists and is in common use.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Evelyn, it’s been in the language for a long time … here is a history of the singular “they” from the Oxford English Dictionary. Also, language changes and evolves all the time. I think when people cannot or will not evolve with the language it’s more of an unwillingness to embrace a particular change than an inability to change overall. I personally believe, in embracing change, especially out of respect for someone, it’s better to try, maybe make a mistake – in which case you apologize, and correct yourself – and continue to improve to develop new habits.


      2. Lara, thanks for the link. I agree – language changes. Some languages are easier/faster than others. English seems one of the more flexible. Part of where “Brittan and America, separated by a common language” comes from, I suspect.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Lol, you reminded me of the line from “Why Can’t the English” from My Fair Lady … A good example to people whose
        English is painful to your ears?
        The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears.
        There even are places where English completely
        Disappears. In America, they haven’t used it for years!


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