Why I Don’t Use “Preferred Pronouns”

The short answer is I use SEX pronouns, not GENDER pronouns.

What activists call mis-gendering is in fact correct-sexing. What “preferred pronouns” demand is mis-sexing, which requires a lot of mental bandwidth.

Like most mammals, I can’t help but identify someone’s sex with +99% accuracy. (A tiny minority of humans intentionally “pass” as the opposite sex, and others are ambiguous. I know a few women who refuse to perform gender entirely, and that confuses some men. Women, I think, are better at identifying sex than men, either due to instinct or conditioning for survival, since males pose threats to us [physical overpowering, rape, impregnation] they don’t pose to other men.)

Pronoun activists are conditioning everyone around them for authoritarianism. That is, they are training everyone to override their own perceptions, and replace them with what they’re told. In order to signal loyalty, friends are required to publicly lie.

That is bad for individual mental health, and the health of the community.

It is crucial to have conscious awareness of our own perceptions. All of the great social catastrophes we are taught about – Naziism, Fascism, the Slave Trade – make us ask, “how could people DO that??” The answer is, BY DENYING THEIR OWN PERCEPTIONS. We lose our ability to resist or think when we deny the reality in front of our very eyes. No matter how well-intentioned, “preferred pronouns” condition exactly that.

Manage your own perceptions; you don’t get to control mine.

P.S. I don’t “correct” anyone for mis-sexing. If a man perceives himself a woman (or animal, or helicopter) I don’t deny him his own perception. If his friends call him “she” I don’t interfere. His friends, however, often aggressively police others, demanding they change their own perceptions. Everyone is free to identify however they wish, but they don’t get to control how others identify them.


Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

51 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Use “Preferred Pronouns””

  1. Imagine thinking sex differences haven’t mattered throughout millennia of human history. Biology is irrelevant. These people are science-deniers.

  2. If somebody would want to impose on everybody to reject terms like “male” and “female” and always use gender neutral language, that would indeed may cause another catastrophic “-ism”. I agree.

    But if a person asks you to call her by another name (because for example she legally changed it) or another pronoun (for whatever reason), then not doing so is just being an asshole.

    In other words:

    People with gender identity issues are in great minority. Therefore it’s good and safe to assume gender based on our perception. If a person asks you to call her differently, I see no reason not to do so. But if someone wants you to never assume a gender of anybody else, I think that’s wrong.

    And now I think that you Nina and whoever you’re debating with are overreacting. Just calm down everybody, please.

  3. I pretty much agree; I don’t care what someone calls themselves or anyone else calls them, but imposing upon me (at pain of shaming or extreme anger) what language I’m supposed to use feels very wrong, and my contrarian nature kicks in at that point.

    I tend to strike a bit of a balance, however; in the presence of the person or their friends, I use their preferred form of address. Away from them, I use whatever referent *I* prefer.

  4. The use of “preferred pronoun” is the death of language. Language communicates what I SEE and BELIEVE. It has NOTHING to do with what you prefer. If I see you as a man or know that you are a man, I use “he”. If woman, “she”. “They” is for several people. I will not lie with my language.

  5. My pronouns are “I/ me” if I’m talking. If you talk to me, please kindly call me “you”.

  6. “Sex pronouns” do not exist, Nina. Pronouns are a cultural artefact. What you’re doing is simply renaming the content of “gender” as “sex” and then pretending that you’re critical of gender in some way. You’re not.

  7. If they want some gender neutral utopia well that is VERY problematic because that would be erasing part of MY identity as I clearly see myself as male. As is very problematic for many of my trans friends who fought hard to be their true gender/sex. I try use the gender neutral they in most cases when dealing with people I don’t know well but it doesn’t even come up that much because I am not friends generally with people who are easily offended or extremest language police. But the gender neutral fascists are a small minority and so I just don’t run into that often.

  8. But I dont understand one thing. If what you’re saying is hurting them, ie using the pronouns that they asked you not to use, why would you continue? Hurting someone, especially one person, is a big issue in my opinion. Its cruel to not allow them a little respect, which I’m sure not many get, in regards to how they wish to be viewed. With a minority that is so infinitesimal, why would it matter at all if you give them what they wish? Not everyone will, some people are plain cruel, so it’s not like they would, hypothetically, “take over the world”.

  9. Just wondering:

    If the use of gender-sensitive pronouns reflects our wish to respect others’ perceptions and feelings, why stop at pronouns? Why stop at gender? Why stop at references to the individual? Why not refrain from saying anything that those to whom we’re speaking might find distressing? Does everyone deserve such accommodation? If not, how do we decide who does? And who gets to decide?

  10. if anyone asks.. no.. i will not adhere to your pro noun needs. no apologies.. i simply dont play a part in anything like this. i dont care if it hurts anyones feelings. people should simply have more about them than a tribal attention seeking overly left-wing needs. the issue at the moment is that too many people are worried they will have their careers shut down by the ultra left fuckwitts.. me i dont care so i gleefully dont play the game.. i am repulsed by it all. i detest ‘sjw’s’ and i am very well educated in regards to the horrendous end games of the ultra leftists… they dont stop… ever. the best thing to do is just say – ‘no’.. you are a girl or a boy. thats it. if theres . problem thats your fault. develop more about your dumb ass than your gender, this topic is the dullest thing about you.

  11. Imagine this scenario: a friend of yours gets married. She changes her last name to match her husbands’. It’s a simple wedding, but they don’t realize until later there was a problem with the paperwork and they are not officially married yet. Naturally, you’d call this person by her correct last name since she’s almost married. It may be a bit tricky to get used to at first, since you’re used to calling her by her maiden name, but eventually it will come naturally.

    This is similar to using the right pronouns for trans people. They know their gender. They’ve done everything they can to pass as that gender, but sometimes they don’t, because of small mistakes or little details.

    I have many friends of all appearances who are trans. At first, using the correct pronouns was tricky, and I made lots of mistakes. They politely corrected me, and eventually I learned. Now I can hardly think of them with any other pronouns or gender other than what they are. It just comes naturally. It’s really not that hard, if you give it more than ten minutes of thought. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but to them it means a lot, and if something is going to make someone so much happier, more confident, and less dysphoric who are you to refuse just because you think “it’s too hard.”

    Also, side note: you’d probably be surprised how often you are incorrect about sex. What about fully transitioned trans people? On the outside they have absolutely no difference in appearance to cis people, they just happened to look another gender a long time ago. But how would you know that unless they told you? You would call them by their correct pronouns like everyone else.

  12. As a biologist, I used to roll my eyes at all these fake “trans” people. Now they are making me angry because they insist that I alter my language to conform to their fantasy and consider me a Neanderthal throwback when I refuse to do so. The truth is this trans phenomenon is nothing more than a childish fad of an increasingly neurotic society – and one we all know will be forgotten in a few years.

  13. I use whichever pronouns are the most obvious to me. If I get a hint that you’re one of these people who identifies as something quite different, I’ll wait until you kick off, or – more likely – will probably just stop talking to you anyway.

    By the way, I identify as a “Lord”, and you will address me as “Sir”. Is that clear?

  14. Love it. We will keep fighting the good fight until this utter insanity is wiped off the books. When someone calls me “genital obsessed” I ask them why they think we need to pull someone’s pants down to identify sex.

    Absolutely deliberate self-brainwashing and these people will have to wake up at some point.

  15. Thank you for this crystal clear exposition. In fewer than 300 words you’ve said all that needs to be said!

  16. If you want me to call you “they” you must have been diagnosed with multiple personalities disorder. Period, end of story

  17. Couldn’t agree more with those denying this ultra left nonsense, especially with the rational stance of Willie B. All of this has just arisen in the past few years; it’s a fad that needs to die out. It’s a way of controlling language. By the way, have you noticed that most of the people who put their pronouns on social media bios are 16-25 and have anime or game avatars? It’s clearly something juvenile and childish. It’s a social craze that fits well with every other lefty agenda. Totalitarian in the extreme. But our overlords are cry babies.

  18. I don’t like it, and I’m gay for god’s sake. I don’t have trans friends, not my style. Sure I’ll address people as they want. That’s just good manners. But don’t be fooled, I think it’s a stupid fad and roll my eyes…well maybe I only roll them secretly. And don’t get me started on the “they” thing. Isn’t that called multiple personality disorder. I guess I’m the old school, self loathing kind of gay man that’s gotten old enough to finally grow into his masculinity, and now I have to declare “he/his”! The beard’s not enough? Ugh!

  19. I’ve just come across this at work. There are arguments on either side. I also shudder at being in the same camp of extremists on either side. However language is important and is shared, also I’m not a huge fan of the worship of the individual above all else with no limits.
    To that end I am just going to use the persons name instead of the pronoun….i think that will work? won’t it? I mean it probably means I can stop using “he”, and I don’t have to use “them”/”they” which is either impersonal to me or just pluralising where its not right. If the person notices and then complains I will consider the position.
    Apologies for being a grammar Nazi and probably spelling somethings incorrectly.

  20. I sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter. Ever since I was a boy I dreamed of soaring over the oilfields dropping hot sticky loads on disgusting foreigners. People say to me that a person being a helicopter is Impossible and I’m retarded but I don’t care, I’m beautiful. I’m having a plastic surgeon install rotary blades, 30 mm cannons and AMG-114 Hellfire missiles on my body. From now on I want you guys to call me “Apache” and respect my right to kill from above and kill needlessly. If you can’t accept me you’re a heliphobe and need to check your vehicle privilege. Thank you for being so understanding.

  21. Seriously? People who use pronouns that weren’t assigned to them at birth use them for a reason. Maybe it’s “mis-sexing, but you have zero right if, for example, someone who identifies as non-binary goes by “they” and you say “Well, you were assigned to male at birth, therefore I will call you ‘he'”. The problem I see here is that you are looking at this from a cis person’s point of view, while I can really see this through the rather offended eyes of someone who goes by “they”. Refusing to use someone’s preferred pronouns is hugely disrespectful, so if you ever choose to do so again, I hope you think through how the other person may perceive your actions, whether disrespectful or just plain rude.

  22. Thank you for this. I don’t have a huge issue with whatever pronouns narcissists demand but when they tell you you can change your sex, I’m basically ‘fuck that’. I identify as a biologist and I’m sorry, my line of work says it’s impossible.

  23. For those who are saying people are rude for not using someone’s pronouns, let me ask, why is it not rude for making me use your chosen pronouns? Why are my feelings put aside? If feelings are what are most important then can I start imposing my beliefs on you for the sake of MY feelings? When you make me use pronouns I don’t understand or agree with what you are doing is saying that someone else’s reality is right and my reality is wrong and if I don’t conform to another person’s reality then I am the bad person! This is the biggest mass population brainwashing I have ever witnessed. I will stand by my reality and will never give in to someone else’s reality. It is mental abuse!

  24. more more more MOAR opposing the identitarian overlords!

    my soul fills with joy, watching them shriek and twist and convulse with pre-programmed rage, spittle a-flying, upon every failed conversion. kiss my ass, leftists.

  25. I agree. What I find most troubling is that the insistence is on specifically THIRD-PERSON pronouns. That is, the words one uses to refer to someone else _when that person is not there_. That’s some obsessive language policing, to earnestly care about what words other people use refer to you when you’re not even around to hear them.

  26. Listen here you Karen assholes. I use they/them pronouns and ur just being pathetic transphobic bitches. It’s not a phase. It’s not a trend. In fact if u dumbasses actually listened in history you’d know that transgender has been around since at least the ancient Greeks. It’s appaling to think that you sados spent so much time trying to wipe out people like me. U are not human if you think this BULLSHIT is acceptable. This sort of stuff has nearly driven me into suicide before. I’m proud to be part of the LGBT and I’ll defend it no matter what so piss off and stop being such a dick.

    Transphobic twats.

  27. I love this article. Having just got a new job I was really excited until reading that everyone in the organisation, writes, under their signature ‘Preferred prounoun: ‘ I have a name that is unable to tell sex and I have a PhD which further obscures my sex (I am female btw) and I like that. I have never had to worry about how someone addresses me – as someone says above my personal pronouns are I:me and when addressed I am you.

    I get very frustrated by the argument that is gender. If you were killed in a fire/in a collision and were unrecognisable the forensic pathologist would identify you as man/woman and use the pronouns he/she. And there is absolutely NOTHING you can do about this – you can’t have an op – you can’t open your mouth and say how you ‘prefer to be seen’ because you are who you are. End of. We are having to pander to a minority of people that as someone else says above, wishes to construct a fabrication called ‘gender’ which is meaningless in relation to sex. But just in case there’s any confusion – if you don’t have XX chromosomes (another sure means of determination) keep out of my bathroom. I’ve been sexually assaulted too many times in my life to pander to your rubbish.

  28. For the suicidal trans identified person with the furiously enraged potty mouth:
    No-one cares, dude. Sex is real. They will find your skeleton after your demise and you will be male if you are male. Your gender identity means nothing to anyone but you. It’s the narcissist in you that spews out the suicide threat. If you end your life because you can’t control the speech of others, that’s your business alone and no-one’s fault but your own. Sorry you are so furious that you are not the sex you so wish you were…sorry, not sorry.

  29. Bro, its not that hard to respect someone’s pronouns. Would you use the same pronouns a transgender person was born with?? No. It really hurts them. Just call everyone they. Everyone is non-binary until they say otherwise (pronoun wise). Seriously, stop being so ignorant. Btw, not everyone believes in god

  30. What the fuck are you talking about? I think even most transphobes would laugh at your absurdity. There’s literally nothing more authoritarian than “no, you HAVE to be called this, and anyone who calls you what you’d rather be called is a brainwashed science-denier.” I cant believe you think showing decent respect to people is authoritarian. I knew a cis girl when I was like, 6, and her name was Katheryn, but she had an ex-friend with that name who she didn’t like so she preferred to be called Kate. So I called her Kate. Because I was 6 and not a fucking asshole. This isn’t even about transgenderism, you’re just a rude person. Pronouns are literally made up. Just refer to people how they want to be referred to Karen, it’s not that deep. It’s not authoritarianism, trans people aren’t holding you at gunpoint to be properly gendered, it’s called “being nice”

  31. Not only do I insist you use my preferred pronouns, I insist you use my preferred adjectives, as well. Among these are “gorgeous,” “sexy,” and “brilliant.” Please don’t stray from my list which you can download to your phone for easy reference since if you do I may become suicidal. Thanks in advance for your compliance!

  32. Okay, first of all calm down Satan. Who asked for your opinion, if you won’t listen to our we sure as hell won’t listen to yours. Okay? I guess if you don’t wanna use our pronouns we don’t have to use yours. Okay sir? Do you feel all big and bad now? You feel good about making kids want to kill themselves because they’re trying to be comfortable in their own bodies? Honestly man I hope you feel good about yourself now. Lgbtq+ people have fought for years to be able to use the pronouns they want. Just mind your own goddamn business. And for all the people saying that “they” is plural: Someone left you a message at work. What would you say hmm?
    “Did *they* leave a name?”
    “Who are *they*?”
    It’s a fucking gender neutral pronoun shut the fuck up.
    Good day sir.

  33. That fact this article, which I personally agree with 100%, gets under the skin of some people (See Gryphon above, what an eye roll that post is) fills me with glee. I am not going to bend language rule or deny my own visual perceptions to accommodate some fragile person’s ego and delusions. Sorry, doesn’t work that way.

  34. Knox, if “kids want to kill themselves” because other people don’t use preferred pronouns…. they (plural, or referring to a person of unknown sex, either way) have very fragile mental health and the only concern should be to get them to a state of mental strength, maybe a good inpatient therapy program. This is obvious.

    Other people using preferred pronouns is also irrelevant to them “trying to be comfortable in their own bodies”. That is a matter of their own mental health, and it’s their own personal struggle for self worth and self acceptance, not whether other people accept them.

    The supposition that gender dysphoria causes depression which in turn could make someone feel suicidal is at best a partial understanding…. if this is true, the only compassionate treatment entails “affirmative” treatment i.e. social transitioning (“passing” as another gender and being treated as such) and possibly medical transitioning (hormonal & surgical).

    The opposite of this is that depression causes gender dysphoria. If this is correct, then transitioning will only bring about temporary relief from the depression…. What’s the compassionate way to handle this? Mental help again.

    Either way, mental help is the place to start, not trying to change pronouns other people use.

    A strong transgender person is mostly impervious to this type of thing. Inside themselves, they are comfortable and secure with who they are and with their intrinsic worth. Affirmation from other people changing their pronouns is a trivial concern.

  35. My objection is the insistence of some to be recognized and honored for characteristics that exist at the person’s whim. I happen to be a fan, even a scholar, of old movies. It is a central part of who I am, but I know that no one, including my large and loving family, really gives a flying fuck, just as I don’t have much interest in your musings about the real you. Pronouns are brief, simple, and imperfect, but they help is get to the subjects, verbs, and predicates

  36. Awesome article.
    Instead of saying “my pronouns are…” we should just say “my chromosomes are…”. that way it is accurate, irrefutable and consistent.

  37. you play more into the dystopia than trannies could ever hope for. people like you, the ones who want to violently affirm sex and it’s differences in society. who’s telling you you’re doing a good job? the few friends who will still speak to you outside of the wired? the hundreds of nameless faces in the echochamber you’ve built because no one else wants to hear what you have to say? you ally with people who would just as gladly put you in a situation a la the handmaid’s tale just to watch trans people suffer & it’s extremely funny to see how you sexist “feminists” sprint to ally with people who support and platform misogynists under the feminist cause just because you happen to share a common enemy.

  38. Ok, fucking idiot! If you don’t want me to call you a fucking idiot then too bad because *I* percieve you as a fucking idiot so *I’ll* call you a fucking idiot. If you don’t want me to call you that then you must think that the world revolves around you because you prefer to be referred to as what you are, someone who isn’t actually an idiot (but has seemingly been influenced to believe some questionable things). I can call you anything *I* want. You also can also not possibility know that a very small minority of people pass as their gender because you can’t know if they don’t tell you. In response to other comments, most trans people don’t want you to call everyone they/them. Being a different gender to the one you were assigned at birth is not a new thing, it just now has a name and more people know about it. Don’t try to convince me you’ve never used singular they before when you don’t know a person’s gender – you’ve said “who are they” etc. at least once in your life. Nobody is saying their sex is not the one they were born with.

  39. To *

    Guess what? I don’t care if someone calls me an idiot. LMAO. That’s what these people need to accept. Not everyone sees us as we see ourselves. Shrug and move on.

  40. It’s so weird to see a bunch of Westerners talk about ‘objective’ gender-specific third-person pronouns. The Japanese language has pronouns that vary based on the relative ages of the speakers, the degree of closeness between the speakers, and the differing levels of respect between the speakers. The Korean language has an obsolete “feminine” third person pronoun, but the third-person pronoun used everyday is gender-neutral. Koreans literally have a ‘formal’ set of pronouns and a ‘casual’ set of pronouns. The Tagalog language does not have gender-specific pronouns. Yoruba does not use gender-specific pronouns, it only uses age-specific pronouns. Mandarin Chinese, the native language of FIFTEEN PERCENT OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION, does not use gender-specific pronouns.

    Maybe y’all* should learn a second, non-Romance language so you can stop obsessing over gender as represented in the pronouns of one (1) language.

    *y’all is literally a dialectic variation of the English second-person plural pronoun, and y’all is just as “offensive” and “non-standard” a pronoun as the gender-neutral they pronoun. So I say this deliberately: bless y’all’s closed little minds.

  41. The article itself is meh. The claim that women are more equipped to distinguish between male and female is completely irrelevant rambling. I’m just here to read the comments, and I especially love Shannon’s comment, which hits the nail right on the head in my opinion.

  42. What I find disturbing about this whole thing is that it seems to target the symptom rather than the cause. If I’ve understood it right, gender (rather than biological, chromosome-and-genital-defined sex) is about society’s expectations for how men and women should dress and behave. Is that it? If so, then some people feel very strongly that the way they want to dress and behave doesn’t align with their biological sex, and so they choose to identify as a different gender (or none at all), and then ask people to use certain pronouns when referring to them. The flaws in this (obviously, just in my opinion, which might be wrong) is that it requires other people to adapt to something which is completely alien to the majority of us, and also means that we have to try to remember who wants to be referred to by what pronouns without accidentally slipping up. This is just going to get people’s backs up, and lead to arguments, extreme opinions, breakdown in dialogue between different groups and ultimately get us nowhere. Wouldn’t it be better to try to challenge the gender roles instead, so that everyone feels that they have the freedom to dress and act how they want, without feeling that they need a special label for it? For example, the British comedian Eddie Izzard likes to wear makeup and clothing which is currently designated as only appropriate for women. His Wikipedia page says that he prefers she/her pronouns. On the other hand, Fat Mike (from the US Punk band NOFX) wears dresses and often has pink hair, but (as far as I know) sees himself as a man. Mike’s approach seems a lot easier if you ask me, and doesn’t require any action on anyone else’s part. Maybe I’m just a barbarian though.

  43. I’m not going to cut down either side of this debate, because I don’t care. When I talk to a person I either: just talk to them, use the person’s name, or use the pronoun you. I don’t see a situation when I would use your preferred pronouns when you are around, and if you aren’t around do you really care? If I’m not around use whatever pronouns you like, because I don’t really care.

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