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why i don't use female pronouns for my transgender brother

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why i don't use female pronouns for my transgender brother

until i was in college, i went by mike. when i found myself in a social circle that included two mikes, i opted for michael just to minimize confusion. since then, the only person who still calls me mike is my mother. (i did have a supervisor back in the ’80s who called me mark for a year, but she was otherwise quite kind to me, so i took it in stride.)it’s a simple matter of common courtesy to call someone by whatever name he or she chooses. transgender activists have tried to latch on to this simple social courtesy to insist on the use of specific preferred pronouns, which they argue is no more than an extension of that common courtesy. the pushback on this has largely been on the profusion of novel potential identifiers: he/his, she/hers, they/theirs, xe/xirs, ze/hirs, ei/eirs…the list is really endless, with individuals generating new pronouns almost daily.some english pronouns convey genderbut the complaints about the profusion of pronouns miss a far more important point of language that seems to have slipped under the radar, something that makes this far more than a matter of courtesy. it has to do with the nature of second-person and third-person pronouns in english.when i talk to you, i can do so without a gendered pronoun. you is the same no matter who, or what, i’m talking to. i can call my misbehaving car “you old pile of garbage” without making my car a he or a she. likewise, i can speak to a male, female, or non-binary individual with the same second-...