Hi Mx. Drew-Marie Lewis, thank you so much for reading, and for taking the time to write a response. No apologies needed — I so much appreciate everything you’ve said here. I totally get the negative significance of the word “preferred” before the word “pronoun,” especially when used to refer to someone who’s trans binary male or female, or firmly nonbinary. I understand how it invites misgendering by implying that other pronouns are acceptable, as you said. And I totally get how triggering that phrase can be. I hate it caused that response in you, even if only short-lived.

That said, even if I didn’t know this was an unwelcome phrase, I would’ve appreciated your feedback regardless. I try to listen twice as much as I speak/write on anything trans/enby, or race-related, especially being a person of intersectional privilege who cannot attempt to speak for trans and nonbinary folx, or POC. I write as an ally and advocate for my child, so I write from that lens. And mostly, I write for a primarily white, American, cishet readership, so I write to offer the possibility of raising consciousness so that microaggressions and discrimination can be recognized and, hopefully, ultimately eliminated — even if only in the life of one person

I really struggled with using the word “preferred” at all — I tried to find an alternative. But ultimately, I figured it would have to stand on its own since it was referring to a more literal sense, i.e., my child’s pronouns are they/them. But, since almost nobody in our mostly red, southern, conservative city can seem to grasp, let alone use “singular” they (even though they already use it every day without even realizing it — just like I did just then!), my child accepts going by she/her as well as they/them. And in some cases and certain environments, my child opts to use she over they, or they over she. It’s for the reason exactly as you stated — so that my child doesn’t have to constantly explain and validate their existence, especially to willfully ignorant people.

I guess that really does more fit the label of gender fluid, but since my child hasn’t used that label for themself, I don’t use it to describe them either.

Thanks so much for your thoughts. Standing in solidarity with you.

Dismantler of gender norms. Political news junkie. TikTok aficionado. Mom of 3. Work seen/heard @ HuffPost, Scary Mommy, NPR, SiriusXM, LTYM, TIFO podcast, etc.

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