Chapter 5 Conclusion

Gendered pronouns are a relatively novel area of study for transgender literature. Yet pronouns are critical to trans people’s identities and used every day as they communicate and navigate the world. To the author’s knowledge, there has not been any large scale quantitative studies explicitly focused on pronouns.

We found that people of all genders use virtually all combinations of common English pronouns. To the authors knowledge, specific data on pronoun usage and gender has not been collected at scale before. While there are, of course, strong trends of certain genders using certain pronouns, there was great diversity within every gender group. Furthermore, the data suggest that people of all genders have very different relationships with pronouns. Pronouns prove a poor signifier of gender, So, they should not be considered equivalent to gender. Pronouns may be better conceptualized as a way in which others can recognize and affirm one’s gender.

It’s likely that even in a small group of people, assuming everyone’s pronouns will like lead to misgendering one or more people, making it important to share and ask for pronouns when meeting new people. As previously established, misgendering can be significantly stigmatizing and disruptive for transgender people, and so should be avoided at all costs. Furthermore, the data show that one person sharing their pronouns will likely make everyone else feel significantly more comfortable sharing their pronouns. This is an easy but concrete way that cisgender people can support trans people.

We also developed a novel way of gathering gender-related demographic data. While imperfect, the consistent pattern of difference between cis men, cis women, trans men, trans women, cis non-binary people, non-binary people, and trans non-binary people suggest that future gender research may be well served in treating cisness, transness, and non-binary identity as modes of relating to one’s gender. This gives participants the opportunity to freely define their gender, while also giving researchers additional demographic data to use in analysis.

Through the use of principal component analysis, we found that there are significant differences in how cisgender and non-cisgender navigate the world in a gendered way. Non-cisgender people are significantly more affected by cisnormativity and are much more concerned that something as simple as sharing their pronouns will bring unwanted attention to themselves than cis people. The need for concrete action and support from cis people for trans people is strong.