• Optimistic Thom

Why I Include Pronouns In My Twitter Bio

Updated: May 15, 2020

As a straight white male, I grew up with a pretty bland life. I had regular fears, regular worries, and was anxious about regular things. I never felt out of place, as I never had to explain my core identity.

When people made assumptions about me, they were always correct.

It doesn’t matter where I am in the world, or the company I’m keeping. I will always be that one straight guy — no further explanation required. My introduction is about as simple and easy as you can get.

It’s important to acknowledge the degree of my privilege when I write this article. These thoughts are my own, and I don’t intend to speak on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. I can only speak in solidarity with people who identify as such. Their original opinions should never be substituted for my own thoughts.

So while my situation is beneficial, it’s well-known my identity privilege does not apply to everyone, with millions reported as being part of the LGBT+ community.

When you identify against the social norm, you roll the dice every time you are truthful with someone. Each time the dice lands, you can unintentionally offend the individual. Sometimes it isn’t even about someone taking direct offense, but rather, merely creating discomfort.

I’ll admit I’m guilty of giving off micro-actions. Unintentional mannerisms — reacting to people identifying themselves outside of what I consider to be the norm. I’m aware of it, I know it’s a problem, and I’m trying to change. I know many other individuals who are doing the same, in the effort to create a comfortable space.

But that isn’t enough. Becoming comfortable with something outside of a perceived social norm can’t just happen with a handful of willing people.

Say someone likes eating cereal with water. Different, but certainly not hurting anyone. When someone does this, it creates some level of discomfort.

Why? Because it is outside of our social norm. If everyone grew up eating cereal with water, no one would have an issue with it. But, because one person decides to do it against the billions, it now creates some level of uneasiness.

How we eat our cereal, not an incredibly personal thing and probably something, we don’t need to care about. How we identify as people, though? That is something we need to absolutely change as a social norm.

So how do we, as a society, solve this problem? How do we allow people who recognize as LGBTQ+ feel comfortable in identifying as who they are?

For all of you worried I’m going to be quoted in saying,

Changing my Twitter bio literally solved the problem entirely, you’re welcome and good night.

Don’t worry; I’m slightly less self-centered than that. Putting your pronouns in your social media description isn’t by any means a full solution. It is, however, a step in the right direction.

Because it’s not about simple acceptance or even standing in solidarity; it’s about making an effort to have our identification part of a regular lifestyle. It’s about allowing people to love who they are because society finally won’t second-guess them.

Think about it this way; let’s say you live in a world where everyone makes wild and crazy assumptions about you all the time. These assumptions don’t necessarily have ill-will towards you; instead, they are just ignorant opinions based on what people grew up knowing.

The problem is, these assumptions, whatever they are, are wrong. So, you go about correcting people, as anyone would. You have to do this every single time people make these assumptions, which happens a lot.

Not only that, but people question your corrections. People even get offended by your corrections, for some reason taking your life personally. Wouldn’t it be better if people stopped making these assumptions about you?

Changing pronouns is a step towards stopping these assumptions. It begins to create a space that allows people to, instead of correct you, inform you from the outset. If everyone begins stating how they identify, then everyone can feel slightly more comfortable in picking the answer they want. This option goes against the norm of being stuck with the answer they were given.

I wrote this article because a couple of weeks ago, I saw this guy complaining on Twitter that people who put their pronouns in their bio, just want attention. He went on to say they were unnecessary, and it was a stupid trend for people attempting to be different.

I can’t find the tweet, but I remember the word “snowflake” was thrown in a couple of times. Many people stood up and commented against this angry, misinformed tweeter. They went on to state that they put their pronouns in their bio, not to feel special, but so that people who needed to identify themselves wouldn’t feel singled out.

There is no cost to creating this space for people, so why aren’t we doing it?

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