women

Questions from the search terms: “femme women using they them”

I’m back with another question from the search terms! Today:

“femme women using they them”

I’m going to approach this one from two different interpretations:

  1. the generous interpretation: the asker is wondering about people they know who actively identify as both women and femmes who also use they/them pronouns.
  2. the (sadly) more likely interpretation: the asker is wondering about people they perceive as women, who have femme presentations, and who also use they/them pronouns.

1.

So, what’s the deal with femme women who use they pronouns? I don’t know, really, it would be ask to ask them about it. But if you’re wondering whether it’s ok for them to use they pronouns, then yes, absolutely that’s fine!

Women of all kinds have different feelings about the various forms of woman-gendered language. Some women hate being called ladies, and they get to feel that way about it. Other women love it, and that’s great, too. Most women are good with being called ‘she’, but maybe some aren’t, and prefer to use ‘they’ or a neutral neo-pronoun. Or maybe some prefer to keep their gender under wraps in certain contexts, and use ‘they’ in those contexts.

I’ve written before about how ‘they’ as a pronoun is simply a way of referring to someone without gendering them at all, and there’s nothing wrong with someone preferring not to have their gender brought up every time they’re being referred to. Using ‘they’ pronouns is one way to reduce that frequency, and if it works for some women (femme or not! Femme-ness or lack thereof is completely irrelevant here, to be clear!) then that’s just fine.

2.

It’s also possible that the ‘femme woman’ you know who uses they pronouns isn’t a femme woman at all!

Maybe they’re a femme non-binary person that you perceive as a woman. Non-binary people aren’t obligated to be ‘androgynous’ or vaguely masculine, and many of us like to femme it up some or all of the time.

Maybe they identify as a woman sometimes, but not strongly enough or often enough to go by ‘she’.

Maybe they told you they’re a woman because that’s what they were most comfortable explaining to you, but honestly it doesn’t matter. They’ve apparently also told you they use they pronouns, so go ahead and do that. You won’t hurt anyone if you do.

On “ladies”, and not being one

I realized recently that my relationship to the word “ladies” (specifically, my feelings around being included in a group of people being called “ladies”) is a little complicated.

Ideally, generally, I prefer not be called a lady. Because I’m not one. And when someone thinks I am, they are not really seeing me, and that is a uniquely uncomfortable experience.

And mostly, I don’t get called a lady. It happens sometimes if I am out with a lady friend (or someone else who is perceived as such) that wait staff will call us “ladies”. I always cringe inwardly but don’t say anything, because hey, passing short-term relationships like that often aren’t worth it.

Though there is always that little voice in my head that is miffed – how hard is it to just not gender people? “Folks” is an easy enough go to, and more recently I was pleased with a waiter who just called me and a friend “you two” (as in “how are you two doing? Can I get you two anything?”) – it worked very naturally and made me happy.

It also still happens at work. Because I am not out at work (Yet! I swear this will happen though!) I am often lumped in with the “ladies”. And this is where complicated feelings happen.

The thing is, ladies are often awesome people, and it can feel like a compliment be counted as one of them. It all depends on who is saying it really – a waitperson on auto-pilot is just off-handedly misgendering me, but people at work are including me in something pretty great.

To be honest, one of the things I love about working in public libraries is the sheer lack of men. Going to a departmental meeting and being the only person there who isn’t a woman as amazeballs, y’all. My bosses are all women, and the only men working at my branch (though this isn’t true system-wide) are entry-level workers. It is a strange and lovely experience.

And when these amazing people include me among their number, part of me kind of wishes I was one of them.

Of course, I *am* one of them in all the ways that count to me – we are working together to make our library awesome and engage kids and help people with all of their various needs. And I don’t think this will change significantly ifwhen I come out as genderqueer.

So yeah, I don’t know what the point of this is. Just, having mixed feelings about being misgendered is weird, is all, and I felt like writing about it!

I’m curious of other people have had similar feelings?