He Asked for It

So my pronouns are a point of contention lately.  Previously, I have stated I was content with feminine pronouns.  That’s no longer true.  I’m not even sure it was true at the time I stated it.  The thing is, I want to try to be content with my identity before I go changing it.  I wanted a female chest to be enough, but it wasn’t, and never was.  And the more I look at my gender identity, the more I uncover parts of it I am unhappy with.

And so the pronouns need a good squinting at.

I don’t like female pronouns.  Period.  I wanted to be okay with them because they make the most sense to those around me, and so I am able to avoid confrontation.  Using male pronouns, or rather, merely rejecting female pronouns puts my identity and its “other” status front and center.  People may miss my missing tits, but they can’t avoid my non-traditional pronoun choice, whatever it may be.  And this scares me a little bit.  But I didn’t start this blog, am not getting this surgery, to start tiptoeing now.

So I consider my options: female is out.  So it’s male pronouns, the singular “they,” or no pronouns at all.  I’m not considering the gender neutral ze, as it sounds archaic and not at all like english.  To my ear it is a kind of foreign I don’t feel comfortable claiming, nor is it very functional.

The “plural they?”  Sorry friends, I didn’t get a Masters Degree in English to turn my back on its rules, rules that I find sometimes frustrating but still love.  There is no singular they in English: they is always plural, and confusing as hell in a conversation when we try to make it singular in usage: “Eli went to the store; they’ll be back in a half hour.”

“Who did Eli go with?”


So male pronouns turn out to be my practical, best option.  But I have to fess up: they also turn out to be my preference.  I like being called he, and feel he fits my identity most closely of all the pronoun choices.  This choice will ruffle some feathers, yes, and will out me as trans in almost every conversation, but isn’t that kind of the point?  There is a lot of push and pull in coming out, be it as trans or as gay or as a Twilight fan.  You want to hold on to the the ease of your pervious identity, but living an easy life is not always living an honest life.  If I’m being honest with myself, then I am, as I have said in the past, much more masculine than feminine.  So there you have it, I am a trans man.

That wasn’t so hard now, was it?

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

21 thoughts on “He Asked for It

  1. It’s amazing how pronouns become the sot important thing, I suppose in reality it is pronouns that describe you most frequently and place you within society. I made the decision to challenge every time someone said the wrong pronoun (it doesn’t happen much now) and it is really tough, sometimes uncomfortable and sometimes scary but never as odd as hearing the wrong pronoun.

    • Thanks Juno. I really appreciate that feedback. And I remind myself that I am in a pretty safe environment, and my work does have a trans-inclusive non-descrinimation policy. I won’t get too much resistance there, but I am in the process of considering how and when to come out to customers–I assume they will just hear my co-workers call me by male pronouns and follow suit, but I hate that without T, I will still get a lot of female pronouns in the workplace from the lot of strangers I come into contact with daily.

  2. Ze sounds like a very camp Berliner trying to say The. I think your plural concept is very interesting because it better reflects reality than the oversimplification which is he/she.

    • Pink,

      You mean the usage of they better reflects reality? In that we have plural manifestations of gender? I’m a bit confused–and interested, care to explain?

      Indeed, he and she is deeply simplified, but I feel in practical terms, he is best suited for me.


      • Hi, Eli
        Yes, I find social gender constructs limit individual freedom of expression. I totally understand your preference for the use of He, but I imagine that’s derived from a strict definition of He (and She). Wouldn’t the use of the plural have liberated you sooner? Would it not have given you scope to (outwardly) be Eli from the get-go?

    • Pink,

      Ah, yes, I see now, and agree. And yes, if we lived in a world that recognized, or if I lived with a language that employed, singular non-gendered pronouns, I might not be having this trouble at all.

      Of course I then think, well, it’s up to me, to us, all of us to make that change happen, to use that awkward pronoun now, to work it into that larger cultural usage. And I might be into that fight one day, but right now, in this manifestation, the english language masculine pronoun feels the best for me.

      It’s hard to tell whether it feels the best for me because it suits me, or because it’s the closest of the socially accepted options. Good thing life is a journey, not a destination, so I’ve got time to work this out. 😉

  3. I work with the Trans community, and this is a really common hump/mole hill/monstrous mountain of an issue.
    The decision to turn the other cheek, politely request or emphatically insist regarding their chosen pronoun is always a journey. I just wanted say, congrats on figuring out what works for you today and letting that stand.

  4. I recently met up online with this wise fellow “Eli” who told me that there is a lot to be said for who we choose to be known as…our name, and I think the same wise fellow hit the nail on the head with the decision of a pronoun. If it makes a difference, every path you forge and choose to share on this blog provides inspiration for those who haven’t come as far, or hold back in fear. So, you rock! (yep, I actually say “you rock”).

  5. Pronouns are such a huge and personal thing. While I know what I’d like to use, I’m still figuring out how to go about getting folks to use them. Best of luck on your journey to becoming fully Eli!

    • Thanks Tom, I’m, as of today, still not sold on male pronouns, but the other options seems so ill-fitting. But I’ll keep chipping away.

  6. Almost everyone but my mom have the hang of it since I came out in December. Folks I meet in public are now at about 90% refering to me as “he” but I started T in January. If I hadn’t I imagine I’d encounter “she” more often so you do have a bit more of an uphill battle. I didn’t correct folks I wasn’t going to interact with regularly. I just didn’t have the energy and decided they didn’t matter. But I have to admit somewhere deep down the incongruity still bothered me.

    • Yes, there is a lot of incongruity in my life right now. But I think it a necessary part of the process, and so am trying very hard now to appreciate it and learn from it. But often times I am just irritated by it. 😉

  7. …. stop stealing my thoughts (well, except the Twilight part. If that’s for real, I will judge). Ironically I am still struggling with this.

    I’d like to read on how this works out for you.

  8. This pronoun thing is throwing me for a loop. For some reason, I could easily wrap my mind around calling someone “she” who I had called “Pete.” Don’t know why, but now saying “he” when referring to “Pete” is difficult. Because of course it made sense in my head that you were a dude, just a dude that I called “she” and “Pete” to fuck with people. But now that you call yourself by a masculine pronoun, I dunno, I’ll just have to make sense of it the way I made sense of your Peteness.


    • Pete,

      The male pronouns are throwing me for a loop, too. I know female pronouns are not right for me, but male pronouns feel foreign too.

      Initially, my name change to Eli from my birth name felt similarly weird, and so I think I will get used to the pronouns in time. Ultimately, I think Pete should be my pronoun, with Eli as my proper name.


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