Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pronoun Project

Dear friends,

I am working on a writing project about what makes it difficult for some people to use the correct pronouns for trans people. I would like to invite you to contribute your ideas & experiences to this project, by letting me interview you for about 20 minutes. You do not have to be trans (although you could be) or a particularly skilled ally (although you could be). If you have ever been in community with a transgender or gender-transgressive person, or where transgender issues were discussed, and if you know what I mean by "pronoun," then I value your perspective and would love to talk with you.

This is not research in the academic, human subjects review board kind of way. I am thinking of it more as journalism. I hope it will result in a short article that I will publish in a general audience context, and/or self-publish on the web. The article will conclude with a series of exercises that people can do to help them become more proficient at using gendered language respectfully. Drafts of these handouts will be your thank you gift for consenting to be interviewed.

This project came about because, in the course of my work as a consultant and educator on transgender issues, I hear the same questions over and over again. One of the common ones goes something like this: "We're all very trans friendly here. The main challenge we have is that, even when we know which pronoun a trans person prefers, we keep using the wrong one anyway. We try, but... it's hard."

People who say this are well intentioned! They really want to call someone the right pronouns, and yet, they keep slipping up. In this project I am taking people at their word that "it's hard." I have some ideas about what exactly might be hard about it, and thus what people might be able to do to work through it. The purpose of the interviews is get a range of perspectives on people's learning processes around using the right pronouns for transgender or gender-transgressive people. For folks who are transgender or gender-transgressive, I am also interested in hearing about your experiences of how people use language about you.

If you're interested in participating or have questions, please email me.


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