Let's talk about my pronouns - (she/they)
Let’s talk about pronouns for a minute.
According to Lexico (Powered by Oxford), a pronoun is:
A word that can function as a noun phrase used by itself and that refers either to the participants in the discourse (e.g. I, you) or to someone or something mentioned elsewhere in the discourse (e.g. she, it, this).
In many languages, pronouns have a gender. In English or French for example, pronouns are gendered. In some cases, like in French (my mother tongue), gender doesn’t only apply to people but to everything. A table is female, a desk is male. A shower is female while a bath is male. Don’t ask what the rules are, there are none. You can try as hard as you’d like to make sense of it, but your efforts will be in vain, you just need to know. On the other end of the spectrum, there are languages where pronouns have no gender. The first time I heard of this possibility, which had never occurred to me before as a French speaker, was when my Estonian friend at Uni told me that in Estonian, pronouns have no grammatical gender. This left me perplexed and I wondered how do you then know if the person you are talking about is male or female? This was year before the pronoun debate started and at that time, I didn’t realize it was possible to not be male or female and that being nonbinary was a possibility.
I have never felt like a "normal" woman, but I have never wished to be a man. I have spent my whole life feeling somewhat in between, but closer to a woman than a man and although I thought it was somewhat uncomfortable at times, I thought it was just how it was to be me. My femininity and I have not been best friends and I have felt awkward being a feminine woman according to western society standards all my life. I felt more like a clumsy tomboy with long curly hair who wanted to play sports, put on as little makeup as possible and only wear pants.
For years, I feared becoming a mother as I didn’t feel that I would fit the role. My mother gene, which it turns out I have, can be nurturing and motherly, but I am best being fun, playing pranks, throwing my son in the air and chasing my daughter around the dining room table. I work long hours, I come home, make a mess with the kids, laugh and play… My wife often gets exasperated that I got the kids overly excited 5 minutes before bedtime and I apologize each time. If one only read this without knowing me, one would think I am a typical dad. But I am not… I am a mom who doesn’t fully identify as a woman. If someone really needed to give me a label, I'd say that I am a demiwoman or what is also often referred to as a demigirl.
According to Gender wiki, a Demigirl is:
A demigirl (also called a demiwoman, demilady or a demifemale person) is a gender identity describing someone who partially, but not fully, identifies as a woman, girl or otherwise feminine, whatever their assigned gender at birth.
If someone was to ask me about my identity on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is being male and 10 is being female, I’d answer that I am a 6 or at most a 7 on a day where I feel more connected to my feminine side. But does this really matter? For a long time, I have wondered if it did. Do people need to know that I am a demigirl? Do people need to know that I have always felt nonbinary, even before I could put words to it? Do people care? Do I need to come out again, this time, not as a lesbian, but as nonbinary person? For a long time, I thought it didn’t matter and most importantly, that it would confuse people. That I would struggle to explain how it feels to feel in between genders. But then I got the kids and faced my struggles with motherhood and femininity and it became more and more obvious to me that I am nonbinary. As I concluded that I am a 6 on the male-female scale and that I greatly enjoyed my mom-dad role, I wondered if I should I tell the world I am nonbinary? Do I have this need? Do people need to know?
Although I don’t think it really matters in my particular case, I know there are people struggling to find themselves, just as I did for years. They don’t feel that they fit the conventional definition of their gender and they just want to be themselves. I am turning 40 later this year, I have a beautiful family, a steady job and I am filled with gratefulness for the LGBTQIA+ community that came before me as their fight for awareness and equal rights made it possible for me to marry a woman and have children with her. Therefore, although it doesn’t matter to me personally to tell the world that I am nonbinary, I have decided to pay my dues forward and publicly share my pronouns on LinkedIn and Instagram. I am a she/they. By doing so, by stating that you can call me she or they, I hope to raise awareness and acceptance so that some young kids out there can be just who they are when they are ready to show the world who that is. I hope that my peers in the business world realize, by seeing my pronouns on my LinkedIn that they know a “she/they” and that I am just a person like everyone else. I hope that they see that being nonbinary isn’t a distant reality from a different world, era or generation but that I am right here and they know me. Maybe this will lead them to ask me questions or get them better prepared for the day when their child, sibling, parent or colleague might say, I don’t feel binary.
I will continue to be the mom-dad that I am. I have learned to be comfortable with the very little femininity that I have and that I don’t need to live up to some society standard of what being a woman means. I will continue to appreciate that I am simply a demigirl, a she/they and that after years of keeping this to myself, it feels good to tell the world that I am nonbinary.