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Trans Woman Called Out For Refusing To Use Non-Binary Friend’s ‘It/Its’ Pronouns

Fabio Formaggio / EyeEm via Getty Images

Where is the line between respecting your own difficult past and not projecting onto other people?

One Redditor found that out recently. She posted about it on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit.

The Original Poster (OP), known as aitapronouns123 on the site, was straightforward with her title for the post:

“AITA for refusing to use someone’s preferred pronouns?”

OP kicked off with the good news. 

“I am a 27 year old transwoman.”

“I came out at fourteen, and over the years I’ve gotten a wonderful group of friends, just about all of which are LGBT and supportive.”

“It’s become a club of sorts, and occasionally we get new members.”

At a recent gathering, one such new friend joined. 

“It’s pretty much customary in our particular circle to introduce ourselves with our pronouns. We have several non-binary members, so this is very important to us.”

“Recently, a friend of mine introduced a new member, who we’ll call D (25, [nonbinary]). After everyone introduced themselves, D told us their preferred pronouns were it/its.”

For OP, that wasn’t so easy. 

“I immediately got uncomfortable and didn’t really refer to them for the rest of the evening. It wasn’t that D was unpleasant, in fact they were wonderful and very funny.”

“I have a little bit of history with being referred to as it, especially since I went through bullying in high school that used it as an insult.”

“So I find it demeaning to refer to myself and other people that way.”

But it all left OP reflecting. 

“I felt bad for not respecting D’s pronouns, so I took them aside and explained the issue I had with their chosen pronouns and asked if they had an alternative I could use.”

“They didn’t really give me an answer, just got angry and left.”

And it didn’t end there. 

“Later, the friend that brought D along sent me a message saying that D was very hurt by my refusal to use their pronouns and that they’ve been talking to other people in my friend group about it.”

“No one has really made a stink about it, but I’m starting to feel much more guilty about it. AITA?”

Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

Responses were mixed, with a majority of people concluding OP was not the a**hole. 

“NTA, it’s really dehumanizing to call someone that and you have a bad history with it.” — Pres_Cowboy

“NTA- I know that i’ll get downvoted for this, but hear me out. I’ve seen a lot of people here saying that OP misgendered D using they/them pronouns.”

“They/them are GENDER NEUTRAL pronouns. They can be use for anyone, hence being gender neutral.”

“If you are uncomfortable using it/its then use they/them. EVERYONE uses they/them when the person is of unknown gender, or talking about someone casually. You cannot misgender someone using they/them.” — 50theRed

“NTA. I’m sorry but someone wanting to be referred to it/it’s sounds like a way to become a victim on purpose.” — Moonpie666_

“NTA It’s unreasonable to require people to use slurs in order to talk about you, and calling people ‘it’ is a slur. I’m trans and I wouldn’t do it either. Refusing to call someone ‘it’ is different from other kinds of misgendering and I think you can’t compare them.”

“It would be different if you were saying it was wrong for D to use those pronouns, but I think saying that you aren’t comfortable referring to people as ‘it’ is reasonable.”

“That said, I would refer to D as D and not use pronouns at all, even though that gets kind of grammatically weird. Like, ‘I saw D today and D’s hair is such a great color for D now.’ ” — hooloovoo1

Others, though, had some issues with OP’s stance. 

“Soft YTA. This person’s pronouns have nothing to do with the trauma and bullying you yourself faced in the past. This is about it, not you.”

“Asking it to change it’s pronouns because it makes you uncomfortable is no different than someone misgendering you or using the wrong pronouns for the same reason.”

“It does feel odd to use “it” as a pronoun for a person, but if you’re going to honor everyone else’s, then you have to honor it’s, too.” — rellyy_fishh

“I wince as well when I see someone with it pronouns. The history of that pronoun is so dark.”

“But we need to respect people’s pronouns. If it wants to be called it, then we should call it that. No matter how uncomfortable that is to type. I am required to say YTA for voting purposes, but please don’t think I think you’re some kind of monster.” — Mysterious-Tea-7218

“Soft YTA. D wasn’t asking to call you that. D was asking you to call it that. It’s not really fair to get offended ‘for’ D when it was not offended. You’re communicating that your feelings about it’s pronouns are more important than it’s own feelings about them, which isn’t right.” — Vandanah

“YTA. What someone wants to call themselves is their own choice. Our hangups doesn’t get to dictate other people.” — Unique-Arachnid3630

Unfortunately, it looks like OP won’t be able to leave the thread feeling completely certain either way. 

Written by Eric Spring

Eric Spring lives in New York City. He has poor vision and cooks a good egg. Most of his money is spent on live music and produce. He usually wears plain, solid color sweatshirts without hoods because he assumes loud patterns make people expect something big. Typically, he'll bypass a handshake and go straight for the hug.