pronouns

i wrote this in march after a piece about me in the windy city times came out

so i got a couple supportive messages about the article from yesterday, which is pretty cool. they made me happy. the pronoun question came up a couple of times.

i am thrilled that when you read about what has been the most difficult and personal struggle for me your first reaction was one of support. that is really great and you are really kind. but i am currently uncomfortable dictating how people talk to or about me.

it’s totally your right to choose your pronoun! you have the right to tell people “this is who i am, so treat me with respect.” and maybe someday on my journey i will arrive at a place where i can do that. but the most important thing to me is that i am still the same person that i am a week ago. that was kind of what i was trying to communicate in the interview, that i don’t have to change for everyone else, that i never saw myself as one gender or the other, that it’s not so much about where i am as about where the wind is blowing. as rote as it sounds, i am just being myself. i’m happy that you can see more of me, but i haven’t been secretly seething at anyone.

one of the things that simonis and i have gotten at in our work on gender policy in sport is that we are all the same person we were yesterday. setting some arbitrary line in a gender policy that says you’re eligible for this yesterday and that today takes your journey away from you. maybe being accepted by your peers is the first step of your journey, and maybe it’s the last. maybe the pronoun is the first thing you want to tackle. maybe it’s your wardrobe, maybe it’s hormones or surgery or your name or what your driver’s license says. there are a lot of steps i’m not ready to take. maybe there are some i’ll never take.

as important as the pronoun question is, mandating usage one way or the other is not a step i’m ready to take. i don’t think of myself as having or lacking a gender. that’s not part of my self-image. if you see me in one way or another, use the word that fits with that. if you don’t, use what comes naturally. i might change my mind down the road, but until that day comes, you have a free pass. to quote the great poet rupaul charles, “You can call me he. You can call me she. You can call me Regis and Kathie Lee; I don’t care! Just as long as you call me.”