Nonbinary Pronouns

(Or, Why They Doesn’t Work For Me)

Right, so, I’m non-binary.  Or, more accurately, I’m bigender – one gender being women and the other being a non-binary gender that I haven’t exactly found a good name for yet.  I’ve used aporagender as the label for that gender in the past, but I’m not sure how well that fits now.  And that’s okay!  These things change as we find better terms to describe the weirdness that is gender.

Names for genders and pronouns are sort of meant to put your personal feeling about your gender into a word that can convey this to other people.  That’s what words are meant for, obviously, but for something as complex as ‘the feeling of your own gender’ it can be expected you may need more than a couple of words for that.  So I’m going to focus on pronouns, because they’re typically how you refer to a person, and also the first and most common point people get misgendered.

First off, I’m going to categorize pronouns into two separate categories for the sake of this post.  The first category is in-language pronouns.  I know it’s unwieldy, but basically in-language pronouns are pronouns that you already use in whatever language(s) you speak.  So, in English, she/they/he.  In German, die/das/der, etc.  In-language pronouns tend to be -slightly- easier for people to not fuck up, because you already use those as pronouns, so any fuckups tend not to be at the linguistic level but at the fundamental ‘perception of gender’ level.

The second category is the neopronouns.  Neopronouns, as the name implies, are new pronouns made typically by other trans and nonbinary folks to use.  These tend to be the easiest for people to fuck up – heck, I use a neopronoun and I still fuck up.  It’s not a fuck up due to the fact I’m deliberately misgendering that person or seeing them as not the gender they have told me they are, but rather that neopronouns are functionally new additions to the language.  As shown by many recent and not so recent terms (pupper being used in place of puppy, or the term ‘adulting’ – where one attempts to be an adult), language is constantly evolving and new terms are added into our vocabulary frequently – but, it can sometimes be hard to pick up.  This is especially true for older people, as it’s been found that languages or new changes to terms tends to take longer to learn for them.

Neopronouns will often employ some fun linguistic piggy-backs to make that process easier, or at least make it less likely to be misgendered.  For example, I use ze/zhe/zer as my pronouns – if you replaced the z with either h or sh, you would get an in-language pronoun (ze to he, or ze to she).  The change in just the first letter can make it easier to adjust, and easier for the language parts of our brain to pick it up as a pronoun, since the ending is the same. Obviously, not all neopronouns are like this, but it was a neat little thing to point out the cool linguistic stuff around it. ANYWAY.

I debated for a time which family to chose from.  My only real option from the in-language pronouns would be they, which I have some negative biases towards.  Everyone in my life that I’ve known to use they tended to be androgynous transmasculine people, typically skinny, typically white, and I don’t really fit this well at all.  They makes me sad, because it could have been a good pronoun for me, if not for the assumption of the masculine neutral.  I know a lot of other people don’t feel this way, and I am very glad they works for them.  It’s easy to adopt, as we’ve been using they as a gender neutral third pronoun for quite a bit now.  I just cannot, personally, escape the masculine connotations of they, and also the real worry of how people would react when they expect the ‘they’ I’ve seen my whole life – and, instead, are confronted with a fat femme grumpy orc from hell.

So, I turned to neopronouns.  There’s a huge heckin’ bunch to chose from, so I definitely was not without choice.  It boiled down to a few major things for me – that my gender was accurately conveyed in the pronoun, that the risk of being misgendered with it would be as small as I could feasibly make it, and also that is sounded good or ‘cool’.  For those reasons, I picked ze/zer – I felt like they conveyed me being bigender fairly well (the z sound is sooooorta similar to the sh sound), and ran a low risk of getting misgendered while also making it ABUNDANTLY CLEAR that I AM NONBINARY.

This is a key thing, here.  So you know how I mentioned the masculine they?  As a nonbinary femme person, I’m often misgendered as just a woman, because there is a prevalent and unspoken myth that nonbinary people must be masculine.  I don’t get dysphoria from being misgendered as she/her (which I think may be partially because I am bigender), but I do experience gender euphoria from the correct pronouns being used.  This is why I chose new pronouns in the first place – I wanted people to acknowledge that I’m nonbinary, that I’m NOT cis, and that that’s okay and I should be able to feel good about that.  And the way I feel good about that is through being gendered properly.

Currently, I’m not pursuing a lot of other aspects of transition (and that’s a whole other blog post, or, ‘wtf do you transition to if you’re nonbinary???’), so changing pronouns is one of the few avenues I can take to assert my gender.  I also want to make it very clear that this is my own personal experience with ‘pronoun shopping’ – not everyone has the same biases as I do, and every trans/nonbinary/agender person experiences their own gender (or lack thereof) differently.  Some people don’t wanna change their pronouns, some people want to make their own, and that’s all a-okay and fantastic!  Do what makes YOU feel comfortable, and there’s really not a wrong way to do gender and pronouns, so go wild!

(image credit above: tumblr user proudnb)

How I handle a Bad Brain Day

So, to start this off – I have mental health issues.  I probably will have mental health issues for the rest of my life, as depression tends to be a tag along with chronic health issues. On top of the common colds of brain bullshit (depression/anxiety), I also have all the ~fun~ symptoms of PTSD, and that adds just an extra layer of difficulty in dealing with life and everything it throws at you.

With all of this brain garbage, I sometimes have what I have come to call a “Bad Brain Day”.  These are days when my brain is just not having it.  It typically starts off with what one may call a ‘trigger’ – sometimes it is a concrete thing (like seeing the name or a picture of the people that caused me trauma) or just thinking about my past a bit much and getting sucked down a shitty depressive spiral.  I like to compare Bad Brain Days to days when I am physically sick** (i.e. with a cold), in that they have varying levels of severity.  Sometimes, I’m just feeling down and looking at pictures of adorable animals can help.  Other times I feel intense and rapid onset urges to kill myself, and that’s not something that pictures on the internet can fix.

**(yes I am sorry for using this term, yes I do know the brain is also a physical part of the body, y’all know what I mean.)

Much like with a cold or the flu, the way I treat Bad Brain Days varies.  On the worst of days, much like if I had a flu or a serious infection, I try to seek help.  This help is NOT in the form of hospitals or doctors most of the time, as I have a history of trauma there, but instead in the form of my support system that I live with.  They’ll come in and check on me, and some days not leave my side if they have sufficient concern.  I’m careful what I ask of them, because I don’t want to make them feel like they are obligated to help me (and thus, come across as manipulative – intended or not).  My intense and sudden urges to die tend to disappear in a few hours and I have come to learn that I simply need to keep myself distracted/survive that period of time until those urges go away.  When I was young and caught the stomach flu and was barfing, it was very similar to this – rapid onset, horrible period of time with urges to empty my gut, and rapid disappearance of symptoms after a day.

Conceptualizing it as this helps me a lot, because it changes how I deal with the day.  Extremely Bad Brain Days are a write off – work is almost impossible on those days, and most people who are physically sick know that work tends to just make symptoms worse.  Back in university, I used to try and power through those days, which only made those urges much worse and risked exposing me to further trauma.  Instead, now, I go home.  I make sure I’ve eaten food, have enough water to drink, and I plonk myself in front of a computer (avoiding social media due to potential triggers) and proceed to distract myself until I no longer feel like dying.

Make no mistake, my way of handling the worst days are not things designed to make me feel better or ‘cure’ my mental illness.  No amount of staying hydrated or reading feel good comics or chocolate or fucking meditation will change the underlying base reason of why I feel like I want to die.  However, these are all valid techniques for keeping me distracted until my brain stops being like that, and calms back down.  On days where my brain is only low-key bad, these things can actually make a positive difference and change my mood entirely – I’ve started some days out feeling like garbage and coffee+kissin’ my girlfriend changed that around.  But on days when my brain is on fire, is not wanting anything to do with the world, the only thing I can do is distract myself and wait out the storm.

When a day is a write off due to Bad Brain-ness, I try to do something small.  Some small task I can complete, because I know (personally) that doing absolutely nothing makes me feel even more like shit.  This can be something as small as doing a few dishes, taking a shower, writing, or working on a personal project.  I’ll also try to reach out to people I haven’t spoken to in a while to at least try to catch up, or make plans later on in the week – I feel so guilty cancelling plans so it is a good method to help get me out of the house, while also can help me feel better.

I know there are probably other ways of handling my mental health problems, and other techniques, but I’ve tried a lot at this point and very little except this tends to help.  Changing the way I view mental illness as less of a personal failing and more of an actual physical illness has helped a lot, and has helped to reduce flare ups because I am not overdoing it or pushing myself past my mental health limits.  I’ll probably always live with mental health problems for the rest of my life, so treating it like a chronic illness and giving myself time to rest and recover my spoons seems to be the best way for me to handle it.  Hopefully this is helpful for those close to me who wanna know how I handle my brain things, or other folks who may need ideas on how to handle their brain things, too.

awoo! the sound of hello!

Hey y’all!  If you’re coming to this blog, it’s probably from my twitter account.  If not – Hi!  My name is Syn, if you wanna learn more about me, read my about.  Basically, this is going to be the blog where I can put my lengthy social justice-y posts and queer+trans community commentary on.  Wordpress is probably a much better format for this, (almost) all my friends are using it, so here I am!  I’ll make posts when I’m able to or, more likely, when I get incensed enough about an issue to write about it.