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Genderization

Remember when life was simple? When boys were boys, girls were girls, and the only pronouns we had to worry about were “he,” “she,” and the occasional “it” for that houseplant you kept forgetting to water? Those days are as gone as my high school hairline. Welcome to the new world of gender expression, where…

Remember when life was simple?

When boys were boys, girls were girls, and the only pronouns we had to worry about were “he,” “she,” and the occasional “it” for that houseplant you kept forgetting to water?

Those days are as gone as my high school hairline.

Welcome to the new world of gender expression, where the spectrum has more colors than a tie-dye shirt at a Grateful Dead concert.

God, I love tie-dye.

It’s a world where your dating app profile might need a dropdown menu just to list all the gender options.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I’m all for people expressing themselves and living their truth. But as someone who still occasionally forgets which side of the car the gas tank is on, this new landscape can be a bit… challenging.

And I mean that.

Let’s start with pronouns.

We’ve got “they/them,” “ze/zir,” “xe/xem,” and more.

It’s like someone spilled alphabet soup and decided to make a language out of it.

I’m half expecting to hear someone introduce themselves as “Hi, I’m Alex, and my pronouns are π/∞.”

And then there’s the expanding list of gender identities.

We’ve got non-binary, genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, and pangender, to name a few.

It’s enough to make you wonder if Scrabble will need to update their dictionary.

Picture this: You’re at a party, trying to make small talk with someone you just met. In the old days, you might have made some assumptions based on appearance.

Now? You’re more likely to accidentally misgender someone than you are to guess their favorite color correctly. It’s like playing Minesweeper, but with people’s identities.

“So, uh… how about this weather we’re having?” you might stammer, desperately trying to avoid any pronoun-related faux pas. Meanwhile, your brain is doing more mental gymnastics than a caffeinated squirrel trying to remember where it buried its nuts.

But here’s the thing – and this is THE thing – as confusing as it might be for some of us, this evolution in gender expression is important to a lot of people!

It’s about feeling seen, acknowledged, and respected for who you are. And really, isn’t that what we all want?

That and for someone to invent calorie-free pizza, but I digress.

So, how do we navigate this new world without accidentally offending someone or looking like we just time-traveled from 1952?

Here are a few ideas:

  1. When in doubt, ask. It’s better to politely inquire about someone’s preferred pronouns than to assume and get it wrong. Just don’t do it like you’re interrogating a suspect on Law & Order.
  2. Practice, practice, practice. Using new pronouns will feel awkward at first, like trying to eat spaghetti with chopsticks. But the more you do it, the easier it gets.
  3. Don’t panic if you make a mistake. Apologize, correct yourself, and move on. Don’t make a bigger deal out of it than that time you called your teacher “Mom” in third grade. I see you.
  4. Remember that gender identity is different from sexual orientation. Just because someone identifies as non-binary doesn’t mean they’re automatically attracted to kitchen appliances. Even though they’re pretty sexy.
  5. Keep an open mind. The world is changing, and sometimes it feels like it’s moving faster than a cheetah on a skateboard. But change isn’t always bad. After all, without change, we’d still be using flip phones and thinking low-rise jeans were a cool.

Of course, this whole situation isn’t without its challenges. For every person embracing these new identities, there’s someone else scratching their head harder than a monkey with a calculus textbook.

Some argue that the proliferation of gender identities and pronouns is confusing and unnecessary. “Back in my day,” they might grumble, “we had two genders, and we liked it that way!”

Maybe.

They probably also walked uphill both ways to school in the snow, but that’s beside the point.

Others worry about the implications for language and social norms.

Which is fair.

Will we need to rewrite every form and document to include 50 different gender options? Will public restrooms need to be labeled with an entire paragraph just to cover all the bases?

And let’s not even get started on the legal and political debates. Some places are recognizing non-binary gender markers on official documents, while others are digging their heels in faster than a toddler at bedtime.

I am from Germany. Still living there. Not much going on in that regard so far.

But here’s the thing – society has always evolved, and language along with it.

Once upon a time “google” was just a really big number and not something you did to find out what that weird rash might be?

Language changes, society changes, and somehow, we adapt.

Humans… right…

So, while it might feel like we’re all stumbling through a linguistic minefield sometimes (and I am a computational linguist at heart, or at least that’s what my undergraduate degree says), it’s important to remember that at the heart of all this is people just wanting to be recognized for who they are.

And really, is that so different from anything else we do?

We craft our social media profiles to present a certain image. We choose our clothes, our hairstyles, our jobs, all as ways of expressing who we are.

Choosing our pronouns and how we identify our gender is just another piece of that puzzle.

Of course, it’s personal.

In the end, maybe it’s not about understanding every nuance of gender identity. Maybe it’s simply about respecting each other and acknowledging that everyone’s experience of gender is unique.

Kind of like how everyone’s experience with assembling IKEA furniture is uniquely frustrating.

So the next time you find yourself fumbling over pronouns or scratching your head at a new gender term, take a deep breath.

Remember that we’re all just trying to figure this out together. And hey, if all else fails, you can always fall back on the universal pronoun: “Hey, you!”

After all, in a world where we can have smartphones, space travel, and pineapple on pizza, surely we can handle a few extra pronouns.

Who knows? Maybe one day we’ll look back on this time and laugh, wondering what all the fuss was about.

Maybe…

But, the gender (r)evolution is here, and it’s got more labels than a discount clothing store.

But with a little patience, a lot of respect, and maybe a cheat sheet or two, we’ll get through this.

Right?

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