We need to talk about Pronouns. We shouldn’t need to, but this has become such a hot topic that it’s pretty difficult not to tackle this one straight on.

Over the last two months I’ve done a few podcast episodes exploring diverse perspectives on pronoun usage. In the most recent episode Catherine Kronas, Eva Kurilova, Neil Dorin, Lois Cardinal and I tackled this topic direectly. That episode will be available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and YouTube tomorrow morning.

People have asked for my thoughts in one place, so here they are. Brought to you in three parts.

In April I attended a convention in Virginia. Leading up to this convention, I watched conversation amongst attendees about the ‘pronoun ribbons’ that they would be provided at registration. Sure enough, when I arrived I had the option to pick my ribbon of choice for she/her, they/them or he/him. As if those options were not more than enough, they even provided a ‘write your own pronouns’ ribbon for expressing your full pronoun creativity.

I practically puked in my mouth as I kindly declined a ribbon. Why would I ever need a ribbon to instruct people on my pronouns.

See, there is a certain portion of the population that has become absolutely captivated with sharing pronouns with anyone and everyone that they encounter. Interestingly, these individuals are rarely people who have undergone a transition: they are usually either people who are not transgender at all or people who identify as non-binary.

As someone who has gone to great lengths to transition, I NEVER want to be asked to provide my pronouns. Why not? Because what I am going for is pretty obvious.

Let’s give this some thought. I go by the name Julia, a feminine name. I have long curly hair, and regularly wear dresses and feminine clothing. If you encounter me in public, you’ll often find me with a purse, and I’ve often got a little bit of makeup on a well. Oh yeah, and I have breasts.

Now, I’m not here to tell anyone what pronouns people must use when they refer to me. That’s not my place and I am very much against compelled speech. But you shouldn’t have a hard time deciphering what I am going for. If you are looking for the clues, they are there.

There is a certain portion of the population that has become absolutely captivated with sharing pronouns with anyone and everyone that they encounter. Interestingly, these individuals are rarely people who have undergone a transition: they are usually either people who are not transgender at all or people who identify as non-binary


This didn’t used to be a problem. 5 years ago, people would have taken it as a given that I wanted to be referred to as she/her based on how I choose to present.

But now, we have ridiculous flyers like what OK2BMe handed out at my daughter’s school that explicitly instruct people not to ‘Assume someone’s pronouns based on name, clothing or anything else’. As the flyer highlights, this is critical because “Using someone’s pronouns is basic human dignity. Our pronouns are core to who we are and it is basic respect to use a person’s correct pronoun.”

Now, I have a lot of issues with the idea of pronouns being core to who we are, but I’ll get to that in Part 2 of this video series. First, there’s a paradox I want to explore.

Biology is a thing and humans, like all mammals, are either male or female. I am biologically male, and I spent a long time trying to live under the societal expectations and social norms that we place upon men. That didn’t work, so I went to great lengths to align my presentation more closely with that of biological females, because it felt more natural to me and I know how to live that life better.

People understood this and it wasn’t a problem until the invention of being ‘non-binary’. I’m not going to explore non-binary identities here, I’ll save that for a future video, but everything non-binary individuals represent is entirely different from the gender dysphoria experienced by transgender individuals like myself.

I accept the sex binary and feel deeply that I just don’t know how to live on the side of that binary prescribed by my biological sex. In contrast, non-binary individuals reject the concept of there even being a man-woman binary at all and wish to use non-sexed pronouns as part of a pursuit to defy the imposed sociological limitations of our sex binary.

So back to the flyer. It instructs us to ‘use gender-neutral pronouns if you don’t know what someone’s pronouns are yet’.

The same people who have asserted so strongly that we must go to incredible lengths to always affirm people with pronouns are the exact same people who have spent the last few years instructing people to call others they/them if we are not sure of their pronouns.

Let’s think about this for a moment. You’ve told us that it’s very important to use someone’s preferred pronouns and even call it a matter of human dignity. You then proceed to instruct people to use ‘gender neutral’ pronouns if you don’t know what their pronouns are yet.

Here’s the problem. I do not identify as a they/them. I do not want gender neutral pronouns. I have undergone hormone reassignment therapy, renamed myself Julia and had bottom surgery specifically because I identify as she/her. The vast majority of our population doesn’t identify as they/them and want to have he or she used in alignment with their biological sex.

The same people who have asserted so strongly that we must go to incredible lengths to always affirm people with pronouns are the exact same people who have spent the last few years instructing people to call others they/them if we are not sure of their pronouns.

You see how ridiculous this is? As someone who has transitioned that’s the last thing I want to receive. If you talk to a few non-transgender individuals you’ll most likely find that they too are not keen on being they/them-ed either.

We’ve now created a situation where our only path forward is for everyone to declare pronouns every time we introduce ourselves. We are expected to memorize the pronouns that everyone else in our life prefers in spite of social cues, and constantly check ourselves to make sure that we get it right every time.

This doesn’t help transgender individuals like me. It actually makes it worse because now I get, they/them-ed frequently. In practice, only the most fervent individuals actually ask pronouns of every person they meet and just make the assumption that most people use the pronouns that align with their biological sex. And then I come along and people have been taught that—as the flyer says—you should always use gender-neutral pronouns when you don’t know what someone prefers and my status as being transgender makes them remember this.

What if we just calmed down and remembered that these are just pronouns—little words we use to make sentences complete. What if we recognized that pronouns are not there for the sake of the speaker or the individual being spoken about, but simply to convey a message to a third party in communication. Perhaps then we’d be able to get past all of this nonsense.

Julia Malott

Julia Malott is a Canadian based transgender individual who advocates for bridging the gap between diverse viewpoints on gender identity and ideology. Julia is the host of Alotta Thoughts Podcast which features bi-weekly long form discussions exploring the complexity of sex and gender.

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Julia Malott

Julia Malott is a Canadian based transgender individual who advocates for bridging the gap between diverse viewpoints on gender identity and ideology. Julia is the host of Alotta Thoughts Podcast which features bi-weekly long form discussions exploring the complexity of sex and gender.