Arielle Isaac Norman
3 min readNov 15, 2021


I can respect people while disagreeing with their plan for how language should be used. Neologisms come and, mostly, go as they either are or aren't adopted widely. My contention is that as a society we have not had out the debates and arguments over how pronouns should be used. I would rather my pronouns be understood to refer simply to my biology rather than to a concept called gender identity that no one can seem to satisfactorily define. I see this one on a queer website: "Everyone has a gender identity—a feeling or sense of being male, female or somewhere in between."

Okay, I feel like a female in the sense that I'm on my period right now and deal with all other other realities of femaleness. I feel like a male in the sense that I want to impregnate my girlfriend. My mental image of myself is as a ken doll, and I have chest dysphoria, but I also don't see myself as actually male.

If I were doing pronouns the way my peers seem to, my pronouns would have to be either they/them or they/he or he/him, or all pronouns or none. But I don't subscribe to the idea that pronouns should reflect some mysterious and personal internal musings. If anything, I think that with all the cross-sex hormone, much less surgical, modifications people are making, it would make more sense to collectively understand that pronouns have nothing to do with gendered expression and roles, but simply are biological:

-He is for penis people who are not taking x-sex hormones

-Xe is for vagina people on T

-Zhe is for penis people on blockers and E

-She is for vagina people who aren't taking x-sex hormones

That would make sense to me and be useful information to encode in language, rather than this free for all where what pronouns mean is individual to each person.

Also, English wouldn't be at risk of dying because we continued to use pronouns reflective of biology. Yes languages must adapt to live, but this is just a change a special interest group is advocating for.

When you said you don't think neo-pronouns are any more or less of a choice than he or she, and you agree that either way, they're chosen, then all we're back to is the idea that they are a preference. I believe it was a different user who was upset that I had referred to pronouns as "preferred pronouns," and so now I'm back to that. It is a preference on some people's part to use pronouns to reflect something other than their perceived if not actual biological reality. It is also a preference that pronouns continue to reflect perceived if not actual biological reality. These are all preferences, and pronouns are clearly and obviously not inherent as they are a social construct.

In my response to the person complaining about the term "preferred pronouns," I was trying to hold space for the idea that it doesn't feel like "just a preference" if you feel you're a man or woman or neither and want that reflected in the way people talk about you. Are you suggesting there are people who really feel like an apple on the inside (who don't need therapy)? You can choose your proper name, but languages never have bespoke pronouns.

We'll always create new nouns and verbs and whatnot (and there probably are other neologisms I don't care for, but this was a piece about pronouns), but this pronouns project is much more of a fundamental shift that has literally never happened in any language, and clumsy linguistic changes don't tend to catch on. I'll bet you $1000 than by 2035, and probably much earlier, this custom pronoun fad will have gone the way of the dodo bird. Or if it lives on it'll only do some in the online, virtual world some of you will choose to spend most if not all your time living in.

Ultimately, when I try to think through anything in the queer realm, I find that there's nothing that will work for all of us. If anything, you seem to disagree with Emma. I often find that trans people and non-binary people are operating from conflicting paradigms. You say pronouns are chosen, and Emma says it's not a choice but rather reality. To me, until we all can agree again on what pronouns are supposed to reflect, we're talking passed each other anyway.



Arielle Isaac Norman

Comedian and podcaster (Gender Fluids & Wrong Questions Only)