Someone wrote…

I wrote an article recently and was asked to include a short bio about myself. I chose my words carefully and supplied a bio without using pronouns. For some reason, the editor changed it anyway and the published result identified me using gendered pronouns.

I decided not to raise it with the editor, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. How do I really want people to see me? I don’t like the assumptions that come with being assigned/presumed female, but if it wasn’t for the assumptions … maybe I wouldn’t mind being identified as female? I guess it’s impossible to know, since gender roles are so deeply ingrained in our culture and how people treat each other. And on top of that, I guess I still feel apprehensive about being very public about identifying as genderqueer, hence my circuitous route of trying to avoid pronouns rather than just choosing ‘they’ or similar.

What’s your experience?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on September 2nd, 2014 at 08:00 am

Category: your voice 2 comments »

2 Responses to “Assumptions”

  1. radical/rebel

    this has happened to me in the past when I’ve written bios without pronouns, and editors have inserted “she/her” into my bio without consulting me. now I address it proactively: when I send anyone I don’t know a bio of myself, I write “radical/rebel is a poet and a dog lover. radical/rebel enjoys dancing in rainstorms” and include a note that says: “As you’ll notice, I wrote my bio without any pronouns. I identify as transgender. I strongly prefer that my bio does not contain the pronouns “she/her.” If the way this bio is written is not to your liking, then I can change it. ”

    has worked well ever since!! my take-away is Stand up for yourself! And don’t let people you don’t know literally change the way you talk about yourself. It’s not their place, and it’s not right!


  2. QWG

    I write my bios in the third person using my preferred pronouns (singular they: ‘QWG writes about queerness and mental illness. They have been published in…’). Like radical/rebel I add a note to the editor explaining that this is my pronoun preference because I’m genderless.

    (And because I write about characters in the third person who use non-binary pronouns, I add notes to editors and manuscript assessors explaining this, too.)

    I have had editors recast my bio to avoid pronouns altogether (unfortunately in situations where I’m not able to change or complain), which isn’t good when I do have a perfectly appropriate pronoun set I use and did specify (a message that my pronouns are incorrect, confusing or invalid isn’t good). It’s better than having incorrectly-gendered pronouns inserted, though.

    I’ll say that it’s really hard to be taken seriously/seen as genderless, and it’s really hard to have people respect my pronoun choice. (I’ve even had binary trans people tell me I shouldn’t use ‘they’ because nobody will get it right – talk about discouraging!) There’s one cishet person I know who gets my pronouns right and corrects the people in her life when they misgender me. One. It’s scary and hard and sad at times, but I hate being seen as something I’m not, and I deserve to have my words and lack of gender respected in the same way binary cis folk take for granted. I’m not asking too much, and neither are you. So keep fighting, even when it’s hard. You deserve the basic human right of being seen as the person you are.


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