VC's Geoffrey John Davies — "They/Them Is Awkward at First"
Get an inside look at our CEO, Founder, and Editor in Chief Geoffrey John Davies as he shares his unique industry vantage point
Today, I had my first business conversation involving the use of gender-neutral pronouns. Whilst discussing a male-sex-assigned-at-birth musician, their CIS manager politely corrected me when I said “he” and advised of their gender-expansive identification and choice of the “they/them” pronouns.
It was actually the first time I can recall being corrected in this manner, but as someone who’s had gay and trans friends for all of my adult life, I, of course, immediately understood the paramount importance of respecting one's chosen pronouns to signal courtesy and acceptance.
But, I won’t lie, the conversation wasn’t completely easy. We both slipped up several times and clarity was sometimes compromised. I certainly experienced inner grammar consternation and it took some syntactical acrobatics to make it clear when I was talking about the musician, singular, as opposed to the musician and their collaborative artists.
But you know what, we did it. We sorted out the gig, and, we showed that we see them, we affirm them, and we accept them.
Yes, using “they/them” is a little awkward at first. And yes, “they” and “them” have been hard-wired into the English language as plurality, but gender-neutral pronouns are here to stay so we need to keep practicing to communicate accurately and respect others’ identities without blunders.
(That said, there is also something ironically uncomplicated about a camp gay man just calling everyone “guuuuurl”)
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