On Choosing My Pronouns


On December 13, 2018, Germany approved a third gender on official government documents. This comes after a 2017 court case in which the courts told the German parliament that it either had to create a third gender or scrap gender identification altogether on birth certificates, drivers licenses, passports and the like. In Germany, parents — not doctors — can now declare their children “divers” (miscellaneous / diverse) from birth. 

In light of this come the questions: What makes a woman a woman? Or a man a man? Who decides and on what basis? When? What if parents get it wrong for us? And a cascade of other questions: Are we evolving into a world where gender is declared by the person when they know or choose to affiliate? Are we there now? In the long term, will gender ultimately be a matter of personal choice? Or is this a transitional societal stage to dispensing with sex and gender as organizing categories altogether? Do we need it / them? Will we stop assigning sex at birth? Why is it necessary to assign sex at birth? What assumptions flow from that assignment? If the assumptions are problematic, why not dispense with them? What would / will society look like if sex and gender are obliterated as organizing categories — and as a way of identifying, coming together as communities? 

Humans need to belong— and ultimately ... I don’t have a problem with a future in which people form families with whoever they want to. I don’t have a problem with people who give birth to children through their bodies raising or not raising their kids (as long as it’s not in a scenario out of A Handmaid’s Tale ... or really any kind of patriarchy which is in and of itself dystopic). In my perfect world a child can have many mothers.  

The priority should be nurturing and providing for our children, surrounding them with love. It should be building inclusive, positive, sustainable communities. It should be ensuring that every child grows into an adult whose life has meaning and who is valued and able to contribute and express their full potential.

Furthermore, I study fractals and non-linear dynamic systems — from a psychological and social perspective. I know that binaries (either / or classifications) are imposed on reality in order to render it understandable and somewhat controllable. It’s an organizing system. My belief is that the closer our organizing concepts get to describing what actually is, the more true, accurate, balanced, aligned we can be. The truth is that sex, like race, may be a fiction— albeit a pervasive one. The truth is that we all have both — whatever is deemed feminine and whatever is deemed masculine — in us. 

So, if there’s a choice, I choose the option that gives me the most freedom and opts me out of constraining paradigms. In my 20s, it was Ms. over Miss or Mrs. Now, I think I want my pronouns to be they / them / their (as long as I don’t have to adopt a costume or grooming pattern that’s significantly different from what I do now). 

Yes, I have / had a potential role, based on my biology, in birthing children. (Even though I never did.) What Germany’s decision and the possible eradication of gender as a social organizing category means to me, is that this fact alone does not have to subsume or determine other aspects of my identity. My role in child-bearing doesn’t define me. In the helicopter view, this may be an expedient way to undo one dimension of social inequality. Finally, while it is difficult to imagine a world without -archies (patriarchy, hierarchy) and the -isms (racism, sexism, feminism) that flow from them, I am super excited about being part of collectively birthing it! 

Article by Katthe Wolf, Founding Partner, President, and CEO

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