ANNOUNCING: “using non-binary pronouns 101” zine!

hi loved ones! i’ve been meaning to turn my blog posts into zines since the start of this blog. laying out a zine turned out to be more difficult than i anticipated, but i’ve got a couple zines to show for it now — a poetry one and one based on the blog post i wrote about how to use non-binary pronouns.

the “using non-binary pronouns 101” zine is free and available to print here! my hope is that it’ll be useful for folks to print and hand out to others in their lives. i know that having a physical copy of something can be really useful to me, so i wanted to make that post available in a format that lends itself to print.

image description: eight-page "using non-binary pronouns 101" mini zine pictured against a colorful pillow with intricate embroidered designs. the zine's cover has it's title and author's name, ky magdalene, as well as half of a non-binary gender symbol. the pillow rests against a couple unidentifiable white wooden structures and a small slice of blue wall.
image description: eight-page “using non-binary pronouns 101” mini zine pictured against a colorful pillow with intricate embroidered designs. the zine’s cover has it’s title and author’s name, ky magdalene, as well as half of a non-binary gender symbol. the pillow rests against a couple unidentifiable white wooden structures and a small slice of blue wall.

the zine is an eight-page mini zine. it requires some simple cutting and folding to take it from print out to finished product. the video below shows you how to do that cutting and folding:

i hope the zine is useful to you! i am in the process of making zines out of other posts, too, and hope to someday table at zine events, when the pandemic has passed. (remember to wear a mask! collective care is good!)

want to support this project? become a patron at patreon.com/kymagdalene. or toss me money for a thai tea on venmo @Ky-Magdalene.

how to make your workplace more trans and non-binary affirming: an ally’s guide

hello, beloved ones. in a prior blog post, i detailed tips and tools for trans and/or non-binary people to use to make their workplaces more affirming. as a complement to that, i wanted to create something for cis folks out there. we need y’all to do the work too — both beside us and in spaces where you don’t know we’re present (but we probably are). you’ve got the privilege here, make it work for us. liberation’s gotta be collective, friends.

trans and/or non-binary folks, i hope this is a guide that you can give to your coworkers so that you don’t have to do all the work to educate them on how to help you as you move through your own process or hand off the process to them. if you think i’ve missed anything at the end of this, please please let me know in the comments.

understand what the ally/accomplice role is

you are not a savior. you aren’t coming in to save a population. you absolutely cannot view yourself this way — consciously or subconsciously — and be effective at the work i’m about to ask you to do. you are a disciple of trans and non-binary wisdom. humility and steadfastness are your greatest assets.

take time to imagine in detail what it looks like for you to be a humble and steadfast disciple as you work to make your workplace more affirming. imagine it until embodying it feels natural, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’ve rooted out everything in you that wants to swoop in and be the big hero. that idea of yourself will sneak up on you if you aren’t vigilant, because we’ve been taught all our lives that justice is about individual acts of heroism. that isn’t true. it’s about community effort and collective care. you are a part of a whole — and trust me, once you truly live into that, it’s a much more fulfilling way to live than taking on injustice as a solo mission.

educate yourself

if you need help imagining humble and steadfast discipleship, start with positioning yourself as a learner in relation to trans and/or non-binary folks, particularly trans and/or non-binary people of color and deeply listening to what they ask of you. to do so, you may ask some trans and/or non-binary friends you have how you can be on their side or you may just go on twitter or facebook or elsewhere on the internet and see what’s being asked for publicly.

be mindful that asking trans and/or non-binary folks for their wisdom directly is asking them to do labor for you. offer to pay them for their time and expertise or to take them out to eat or to donate to a cause/person/organization that they request or offer to do labor for them. make the exchange mutual in whichever way works for you both/all.

here are a couple articles that delineate some of the basics of allyship and/or accompliceship:

for foundational educational materials about transness and trans people, check out the “for teaching trans 101 to cis folks” tab on the trans resources spreadsheet i curate. follow that up by going through the “resources for allies/accomplices” tab at the end.

get anti-racist training

cissexism (transphobia by a more apt name) is a product of white supremacy, of colonialism. indigenous cultures the world over had and have many varied gender paradigms that differ from the model of a gender binary that colonialism established as a hegemony. cissexism is racist; to rid a space of one of these axes of oppression, you must rid the space of both.

as i am a white person, i do not believe it is my place to speak to how people of color choose to engage in anti-racism work, so i’m going to speak to just my fellow white folks momentarily: if you’re white, you must demand that your organization perform an anti-racist audit of the organization, take the necessary steps to right the wrongs that audit reveals, and invest in continual agency-wide anti-racist training. in the seattle area, organizations like The Non-Profit Anti-Racism Coalition (for non-profits), Families of Color Seattle (for educational organizations), and The People’s Institute Northwest can help you with this.

(i have not personally worked with any of these organizations and would welcome any firsthand feedback about them. they are orgs i’ve learned about from an intensive but not exhaustive internet search.)

pursue anti-racism training and education individually as well. Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Anti-Racist is an excellent place to start.

assess your workplace for trans and non-binary friendliness

here are some quick questions to get you started on understanding what your workplace may lack when it comes to being affirming of trans and non-binary people:

  • are there easy to access gender-neutral bathrooms?
  • are folks encouraged to put their pronouns in their email signatures or on their name tags or in other relevant places? it’s not cool to make people display their pronouns publicly, because requiring it can put some trans folks at risk, but doing so should be an accepted part of organizational culture.
  • do your coworkers struggle to use the correct pronouns for someone? is anyone intentionally using the wrong pronouns for someone?
  • does your workplace hold regular cultural competency trainings on trans identity? are those trainings led by trans people? do the trainers include trans people of color?
  • does your workplace have a written policy for employees transitioning on the job?
  • does your employer health insurance cover medical transition costs?

i’m going to include here some common scenarios of where workplaces lack trans affirmation and ideas for what you’ll want to ask your employer to do to address them that i mentioned in my previous post. if you’re working with trans and/or non-binary folks as you move to improve your workplace, defer to their assessment of their needs and how they should be met.

if there isn’t an easy to access gender neutral bathroom, facility changes should be made. this can be as simple as changing the signs on the restrooms. (here’s an all-gender restroom sign that may serve you. do NOT spend your own money on it; it’s your employer’s responsibility. make them do it.)

is someone intentionally misgendering someone? that’s harassment. you’ll want to check in with the person being harassed about what you can do to help. they may be worried about retaliation, so please don’t act on what you’ve witnessed in a way that will put them at risk. if you’re in the seattle area, you can let them know that the lavender rights project is available as a legal resource for them. you can also craft a plan for going to HR about the harassment together. if your place of work is unionized, bring the union in on it as well.

if the misgendering is unintentional, your coworkers might just need more education. i created a guide to non-binary pronouns, with accompanying resources that might be useful to you. run it by any coworkers you have who use non-binary pronouns and if they find it suitable, ask your employer to pass that around. alternatively, ask your employer to set up a cultural competency training on pronouns. i’ll give you resources for cultural competency trainings below.

does your workplace lack a transition policy? tell them to craft one with the input of trans employees, if such employees are out as trans and are willing. if there aren’t any such employees, hire at least two trans people with this expertise to do this work with trans people of color making up half or more of the number of people you bring in. the procedure your workplace will use to work with employees who transition on the job must exist in writing. i’ll give you examples of such policies a couple steps below.

facility changes, cultural competency trainings, and written policies are the most common asks in my experience of trans justice issues in the workplace. while you may not be dealing with the issues specifically mentioned above, those are likely to be among your asks.

offer yourself as an ally

probably don’t come up to someone and say “i want to be an ally to you.” in addition to being pretentious, that puts the onus of figuring out how you can be helpful on the person you’re talking to. i promise that they’re already doing a ton of emotional labor that they shouldn’t have had to be responsible for in the first place — they don’t need to do yours, too.

instead, offer specific help. if you’ve noticed someone being misgendered, say so. ask if they want you to correct folks when that happens or if they’d like back up in going to management about dealing with it. if you know there is no gender neutral bathroom for your agender colleague, tell them you’re willing to push for that to change with them — or on your own so they aren’t unduly burdened. if a trans person at your workplace is fighting to get cultural competency trainings to happen at your workplace, support them vocally and persistently.

if you approach your trans and/or non-binary colleagues about these issues and they ask you not to move forward in dealing with them, do as asked. they may be worried about their safety if attention is brought to these issues. if you approach multiple folks and their responses are divided, use your best judgement while being sure to remember that you are a disciple, not a savior. you may still move forward with helping those who are seeking change, but do so with humility.

if you have coworkers who are trans and/or non-binary, but who do not wish to be burdened with this work, move forward only with their blessing. remember to stay open to their level of involvement changing over time. seek always to defer.

find allies

this section will describe what to do about increasing your leverage through use of more voices if you are given your trans and/or non-binary coworker’s blessing to move forward without them or if you don’t have any out trans and/or non-binary coworkers to partner with. to tweak these next steps to follow if you are partnered with trans and/or non-binary coworkers, simply remember to check in with them before taking any of these steps and to defer to then as you go.

if your place of work is unionized, go to your union delegate. your union has more power than you individually to force management to make change. the steps your workplace needs to take to become trans affirming can be made part of contract negotiations (suggest this to your union if your union doesn’t suggest it to you).

if your place of work is not unionized or if your union is unsupportive, find coworkers who you believe will be supportive individually. is there someone with a trans and/or non-binary loved one who they speak about with respect and deference to their wisdom? someone who understands trans justice issues? someone who understands other justice issues who you believe can be educated in trans justice?

approach these folks. start with the person who you trust the most. explain what needs are going unmet in the workplace. ask if they’re willing to come together with you to seek trans and non-binary wisdom in figuring out how to address those needs and then to come forward to management with you to address those unmet needs in the ways you’ve learned about.

if you can find an ally in the management staff, all the better for you, but be cautious in approaching management for this purpose. hierarchical structures are not built with the humanity of those in the lowest tiers in mind.

two things to remember about these conversations:

  • they can take place over the course of days or weeks. you don’t need to try to fit this all into one convo. you can move at the speed of trust, as adrienne maree brown says. if you’re new to your workplace, you probably need to get a feel for where your coworkers are at on these issues over the course of time. if you’ve been at your workplace for a while, you may know exactly who is willing to fight for what.
  • you should be actively listening to and intentionally asking about the needs of your coworkers’ that are going unmet in the workplace as you converse. you should be on each other’s teams on these issues; mutuality is important morally and tactically.

get info

our culture is big on precedent. this is obnoxious because change by nature demands a lack of precedence and because the precedent for how trans and non-binary people are treated in our culture is shitty. i have many angry words to say about how evil perpetuates itself in this paradigm, but i don’t have the emotional capacity to write it all for you. the long and short of it is that your workplace will want to follow in the footsteps of something else. it’s your task at this stage to give them the footsteps to follow.

i have given a workplace the following footsteps regarding policy changes:

always keep in mind that none of those guides are perfect and that our understanding of trans justice is ever-evolving. you have to remain dedicated to discipleship and open to new information.

i’ve collected some other guides as well over the months i’ve been doing this and they’re all listed on the trans resource spreadsheet i curate. i especially encourage you to study and utilize the one that is non-binary specific as many guides fall shortest when it comes to handling non-binary identities.

if you are working with trans and/or non-binary coworkers, accept the resources they present to you or, if they desire your help in attaining resources, present these resources to them and allow them to tell you which resources they want to use moving forward. in fact, in addition to presenting these guides to them, please share with them my blog post written for trans and non-binary folks on this topic — again, if they’re open to receiving resources from you.

insist to your employer that trans folks be a part of crafting whatever policies you are asking your employer to create, reminding them that it would be immoral and ineffectual to not center trans voices. if those voices can’t be found from within — either because there are no out trans people employed in your workplace or because those folks do not want to take on this burden — hire at least two trans and/or non-binary people to partner in this work, making sure that at least one of them is a person of color and that both of them have expertise in this area. truly, a panel of trans and/or non-binary folks with a majority of people of color on it works best. you want to be sure that you are especially centering the wisdom and experience of Black trans and/or non-binary folks.

if cultural competency trainings are what your workplace needs and you are in the seattle area, ingersoll gender center provides them. if you’re outside of the seattle area, prompt your workplace to approach sylveon, a company co-founded by Tuck Woodstock, the host of the podcast gender reveal (which happens to be an extremely useful tool for educating yourself as a disciple of trans and non-binary wisdom). explicitly state to your employer that cultural competency trainings must take place periodically: they are not a one-and-done deal. in addition to being held organization-wide periodically, they should be a part of the onboarding process for all new employees.

present your info to management

if you’re working with a union, they’ll be able to tell you the most effective venue for approaching management. they should be able to back you up in your requests in some way, either by including them in contract negotiations or by making them a part of regular dealings they have with management. follow their lead when it seems right to do so, but remember to defer to the judgement of any trans and/or non-binary coworkers you’re working with if they disagree with the union’s tactics or suggest others.

if you’re not working with a union, this is the time when any trans and/or non-binary folks you’re working with will put their presentation of needs and their solutions to meeting those needs in writing. defer to their judgement on how you should help them do this. they may want you to handle it. they may want you to read it over for them. they may want you to sign off on it.

if you aren’t working with any trans and/or non-binary folks, you must put a presentation of needs you see going unmet and the solutions to those needs that you’ve crafted with trans and non-binary wisdom guiding you. it is always good practice to have a paper trail. my suggestion is to send an email outlining the issues and the solutions with links and attachments to the relevant info.

this email is probably best sent to HR, but don’t be afraid to hold HR accountable by sending it to others in leadership as well. your direct supervisor might also be someone you want to send it to and if you have any allies in management, definitely include them on the email. ask your non-management allies if they want/are willing to be included in this email in any way. you can cc folks or bcc them as appropriate.

this will likely progress to a face-to-face conversation with management, probably HR. do your best to not have those conversations alone. bring a union rep or another ally along with you. take notes — paper trails remain important, so be sure to date your notes and jot down who you’re speaking with. bring printed versions of the resources you sent if you are able.

make change

it’s likely that these conversations with management persist over the course of your employment. monitor the work they do to make sure it’s truly meeting the needs you or your coworkers have identified. if what they’re doing isn’t working, prompt them to iterate. keep a paper trail throughout the process, saving emails and notes. remember to continually seek out and defer to trans and non-binary wisdom on these matters as you go through the process. let any new trans and/or non-binary employees who come onboard during this process in on what’s going on and defer to their judgement if they offer it. center their voices and their needs.

(if you are trans and/or non-binary and you see something i’ve missed in this guide, please let me know in the comments! or email me at kymagdalene@gmail.com.)

want to support this project? become a patron at patreon.com/kymagdalene. or toss me money for a thai tea on venmo, @Ky-Magdalene.

tips and tools for making your workplace affirming of your trans and/or non-binary identity

hey loved ones. being employed sucks and it sucks worse now and it sucks even worse when your employer isn’t trans and/or non-binary affirming like they should be. i want all the spaces in your life to be safe and affirming, especially now, so i’ve put together some tips and resources from my own experience in moving employers towards being trans and non-binary affirming and inclusive.

i want to acknowledge here that people of marginalized identities are never under any obligation to educate the people of identities that are privileged over their own. i in no way mean to imply otherwise and i don’t want anyone to read this and feel burdened by it. you are free to take or leave these tools as you see fit. i just want to make sure you have them.

i’ve broken the process down in the chronological order i would use moving forward with what i’ve learned from doing this. you may find that a different order works for you and that’s totally valid.

this post has been updated with an anti-racism section. i have learned a lot in the past month about anti-racism and hope to move forward on this blog with an ever-better anti-racism lens.

know that this can be a large and long task

it’s been really important in my life to manage my expectations before beginning a project. working to make your employer more trans affirming may take months, even though you know it should take days. don’t get me wrong — you are absolutely right; it should take days. and it could: all the bureaucratic reasons your workplace is going to give you about how it will take time are bullshit. some of the people giving you those reasons will know it’s bullshit. i want you to know that going in.

i encourage you to sit with this knowledge for a time before moving forward. here are some things i suggest thinking over during this process:

  • assess your capacity:
    • do you have the mental and emotional bandwidth to do this? maybe you just came out to unaffirming family members and you’re busy grieving or working to educate them. maybe you’re dealing with other workplace stress. maybe it’s a pandemic. these things might drive you to do this work, but they might also mean you need to put it off for your well-being.
    • do you have the time to educate your coworkers? do you have the time to educate your managers (they’re likely to be much harder to educate)? i urge you to do this labor on company time. do your research on company time — read this blog post on company time. you’re working to improve your workplace in ways your higher-ups should have already done and it is morally wrong for you not to get paid for that. i understand if you don’t feel that you can, but please if you can, do.
  • make a plan for how you’ll take care of yourself as you do work that is highly personal and closely tied to your well-being over an extended period of time:
    • set boundaries. this can include that you’ll only work on this during work hours (that’s what i do). it can include a point at which you’ll no longer do this work. it can include a rule that you’ll only work on this on a specific day or for a set number of hours per week. remember: boundaries are allowed to change over time. feel into what you need as you go.
    • prioritize rest. you will need time to decompress from this and to refortify yourself for continuing. remember: rest is multi-faceted. it includes sleep, time spent with others socially, time spent venting about this to someone who supports you, time spent doing something you enjoy, and other things that you either already know you need or will learn as you go.

get anti-racist training

cissexism (transphobia by a more apt name) is a product of white supremacy, of colonialism. indigenous cultures the world over had and have many varied gender paradigms that differ from the model of a gender binary that colonialism established as a hegemony. cissexism is racist; to rid a space of one of these axes of oppression, you must rid the space of both.

as i am a white person, i do not believe it is my place to speak to how people of color choose to engage in anti-racism work, so i’m going to speak to just my fellow white folks momentarily: if you’re white, you must demand that your organization perform an anti-racist audit of the organization, take the necessary steps to right the wrongs that audit reveals, and invest in continual agency-wide anti-racist training. in the seattle area, organizations like The Non-Profit Anti-Racism Coalition (for non-profits), Families of Color Seattle (for educational organizations), and The People’s Institute Northwest can help you with this.

(i have not personally worked with any of these organizations and would welcome any firsthand feedback about them. they are orgs i’ve learned about from an intensive but not exhaustive internet search.)

pursue anti-racism training and education individually as well. Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Anti-Racist is an excellent place to start.

assess your needs

what needs of yours are going unmet in your workplace? what you’ll ask your employer to do depends on the answers to this question. i’ll pose some potential problems and ideas about what to ask your employer to do to remedy them below:

do you have a bathroom to use that you feel comfortable in and which matches your gender identity or lack thereof? if not, facility changes need to be made. this can be as simple as changing the signs on the restrooms. (here’s an all-gender restroom sign that may serve you. do NOT spend your own money on it; it’s your employer’s responsibility. make them do it.)

are people getting your pronouns right? if not, is it intentional? if it is intentional, that’s harassment. you may need legal help (in seattle, try the lavender rights project for such help). if it is unintentional, your team might just need more education. i created a guide to non-binary pronouns, with accompanying resources that might be useful to you. you may ask your employer to pass that around or to set up a cultural competency training. i’ll give you resources for cultural competency trainings below.

does your workplace lack a transition policy? tell them to craft one with your input and that of other trans employees, if they exist and are willing. the procedure your workplace will use to work with employees who transition on the job should exist in writing. i’ll give you examples of such policies a couple steps below.

facility changes, cultural competency trainings, and written policies are the most common asks in my experience of trans justice issues in the workplace. while you may not be dealing with the issues specifically mentioned above, those are likely to be among your asks.

find allies

allies increase your bandwidth and give you more leverage. if your place of work is unionized, go to your union delegate. your union has more power than you individually to force management to make change. the steps your workplace needs to take to become trans affirming can be made part of contract negotiations (suggest this to your union if your union doesn’t suggest it to you).

if your place of work is not unionized or if your union is unsupportive, find coworkers who’ve been supportive individually. is there someone who’s always gotten your pronouns right or who is genuinely trying really hard to? someone who understands trans justice issues? someone who is trans and/or non-binary themself?

approach these folks. start with the person who you trust the most. explain what needs of yours are going unmet in the workplace. ask if they’re willing to come forward to management with you to address those unmet needs in the ways you specify.

if you can find an ally in the management staff, all the better for you, but be cautious in approaching management. hierarchical structures are not built with the humanity of those in the lowest tiers in mind.

two things to remember about these conversations:

  • they can take place over the course of days or weeks. you don’t need to try to fit this all into one convo. you can move at the speed of trust, as adrienne maree brown says. if you’re new to your workplace, you probably need to get a feel for where your coworkers are at on these issues over the course of time. if you’ve been at your workplace for a while, you may know exactly who is willing to fight for what.
  • you should be actively listening to and intentionally asking about the needs of your cowokers’ that are going unmet in the workplace as you converse. you should be on each other’s teams on these issues; mutuality is important morally and tactically.

i created a guide for allies about making their workplaces trans and non-binary affirming and if you find it useful, you can pass it along to them as an educational tool.

get info

our culture is big on precedent. this is obnoxious because change by nature demands a lack of precedence and because the precedent for how trans and non-binary people are treated in our culture is shitty. i have many angry words to say about how evil perpetuates itself in this paradigm, but you get it. the long and short of it is that your workplace will want to follow in the footsteps of something else. it’s your task at this stage to give them the footsteps to follow.

i have given a workplace the following footsteps regarding policy changes:

none of those guides are perfect. i wish they were and have considered making such a guide myself. (if you’d like me to, let me know in the comments!) you’ll want to insist to your employer than trans folks be a part of crafting whatever policies you are asking them to create, reminding them that it would be immoral and ineffectual to not center trans voices.

i’ve collected some other guides as well over the months i’ve been doing this and they’re all listed on the trans resource spreadsheet i curate. you might find the one which is non-binary specific to be useful as many guides fall shortest when it comes to handling non-binary identities.

if cultural competency trainings are what your workplace needs and you are in the seattle area, ingersoll gender center provides them. if you’re outside of the seattle area, prompt your workplace to approach sylveon, a company co-founded by the host of the podcast gender reveal that i talk about non-stop. i highly suggest explicitly stating to your employer that cultural competency trainings should take place periodically: they are not a one-and-done deal. they should also be a part of the onboarding process for all new employees.

if you find yourself in a position to do the training yourself (which you should never be or feel obligated to do, but which i support you in if that decision is right for you), check out the teaching transgender toolkit. it’s the tool i’ve been using to train myself in training others. it has detailed walk-throughs and accompanying resources for holding specific trainings and is addressed to folks with no prior facilitating experience.

if you need other educational materials, try the “for teaching trans 101 to cis folks” tab on the trans resources spreadsheet.

present your info to management

if you’re working with a union, they’ll be able to tell you the most effective venue for approaching management. they should be able to back you up in your asks in some way, either by including them in contract negotiations or by making them a part of regular dealings they have with management. follow their lead when it seems right to do so, but don’t be afraid to suggest other tactics.

if you’re not working with a union, put your presentation of needs and your solutions to meeting those needs in writing. it is always good practice to have a paper trail. my suggestion is to send an email outlining the issues and the solutions with links and attachments to the relevant info. this email is probably best sent to HR, but don’t be afraid to hold HR accountable by sending it to others in leadership as well. your direct supervisor might also be someone you want to send it to and if you have any allies in management, definitely include them on the email. ask your non-management allies if they want/are willing to be included in this email in any way. you can cc folks or bcc them as appropriate.

this will likely progress to a face-to-face conversation with management, probably HR. do your best to not have those conversations alone. bring a union rep or another ally along with you. take notes — paper trails remain important, so be sure to date your notes and jot down who you’re speaking with. bring printed versions of the resources you sent if you are able.

make change

it’s likely that these conversations with management persist over the course of your employment. monitor the work they do to make sure it’s truly meeting your needs. if what they’re doing isn’t working, prompt them to iterate. keep a paper trail throughout the process, saving emails and notes.

remember always that your needs are valid and important and should be attended to as such. you are always right to advocate for yourself.

if you have any other tips about how to go through the process of making your workplace trans and non-binary affirming or if you have resources regarding doing so, please leave them in the comments!

want to support this project? become a patron at patreon.com/kymagdalene. or toss me money for a thai tea on venmo, @Ky-Magdalene.

ways to get — or stay — connected to trans and non-binary community during self-isolation

hi, beloved ones. i hope like hell that you’re staying safe and well out there. if you’re like me, you’ve been feeling lonely and disconnected. that’s the current normal, but it isn’t healthy for us, so i’ve put together some resources on getting (or staying) connected to trans and non-binary community during this time. i’ve seen a lot of efforts in our communities to be there for each other and i hope they’ll be as heartening for you as they’ve been for me. i also hope you make some new friends.

(this post has been updated to include another virtual meetup!)

JOIN A SOCIAL OR SUPPORT GROUP

social groups

if you’ve read my blog post about resilience practices for trans folks stuck in cissexist homes, you already know about the slack created by the podcast gender reveal. the slack is an opportunity to get connected with trans and non-binary folks. with channels for interests, gender thoughts and feelings, self-care, mutual aid, and many, many more, it’s a great jumping off point for a sense of connection and a community-curated chance to make friends.

support groups

ingersoll gender center has been holding its peer support groups for over 40 years, according to its website, and they’ve recently transitioned to being entirely online. groups are held weekly on wednesday evenings and are facilitated by trained volunteers who are members of the community. you can see the schedule for the support groups and get information about how to join them, on this page of ingersoll’s website.

washington gender alliance has also moved its support group meetings to virtual space. meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on thursdays. you can get more info about those meetings on the washington gender alliance website.

the seattle trans and nonbinary community facebook group is hosting weekly zoom meetups on thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m. the meetups are lowkey hang-outs that allow attendees to engage at their comfort level.

gender alliance of the south sound is hosting its regular support (and social) groups virtually now as well. meetings are held the first, second, third, and fourth fridays of the month. the first and third friday meetings are the more social meetings. they start at 7 p.m. and last for an hour. the second and fourth meetings are more geared towards peer support. they also begin at 7 p.m. and last for two hours. check out their facebook page for info about how to attend!

JOIN FACEBOOK GROUPS

facebook isn’t the only platform that gives you the opportunity to join identity-based groups, but it is the one i’m most familiar with. if facebook isn’t for you, you can also try discord, slack, reddit, or getting connected with people on twitter. i’m sure there are yet more avenues for this as well. start where you’re comfortable.

to find facebook groups (and this probably applies elsewhere as well), try searching “trans [your city]” or “non-binary [your city].” switch out trans and non-binary with whichever other identifying word(s) you use. if you’re a person of color, you can add that to your search as well (like “seattle black trans”). you can also search for transmasc or transfemme or trans men or trans women.

in addition to narrowing your search using other aspects of your identity, you can do so by adding interests. for example, you could search “nonbinary gamers” or “trans book club.” i’m in a non-binary fiber arts group.

some other groups i’m in include:

seattle trans and nonbinary community
trans, nonbinary, and genderqueer network
the nonbinary agenda
washington gender alliance

these five groups are just a small sampling of what i’m in. be sure to read the group rules carefully and determine as best you can that its a place you’ll be safe (one thing you’ll want to look for is language that shows that the group acknowledges that neither transition nor dysphoria are required to be trans).

GO TO EVENTS

i very much mean virtually — not physically — when i say “go” here. stay home, stay safe, keep others safe.

that said, the translations film festival started last night in seattle and since it’s completely virtual this year, you can attend it from anywhere. tickets are available on a sliding scale, so you can pay what you can afford. we all know money’s tight for many right now. (for some organizations working to monetarily support trans folks through this time, check out my last blog post).

trans pride seattle is also going virtual this year, which makes it open to attendees from anywhere! i know many folks don’t have a pride event specifically by and for trans people and i’m honestly really excited that this event is open this year to anyone with an internet connection (now to work on getting everyone an internet connection, huh?). trans pride seattle is set for june 26th this year, save the date!

these are just a couple of the things going on that i know about. since we’re not limited by geographic location as much as usual this year, we have more access to trans events. try searching for trans events in other places if you can’t find them where you live. major metropolitan areas are more likely to have them; you can pick a big city in your time zone to do a “trans events + [big city]” google search.

START YOUR OWN GROUP OR EVENT

you don’t have to rely on what other folks are doing; if you don’t find something for you, please make it if you can! we’re all under a lot of stress right now and it’s understandable to not have the energy to put something together, but you might find that doing so gives you a sense of accomplishment.

i’ve been planning and running events of various sizes for years now and i hope that sharing some ideas and tips with you will give you a good launching point if you’re new to this or struggling with ideas.

first, a free alternative to zoom, since a way to video conference is key to connection right now: jitsi. i haven’t used it, but i know others who have been. it’s end-to-end encrypted, so your privacy is protected.

some tips for event hosting:

  • set reasonable standards for success: don’t pin all your happiness on everyone you’ve invited to an event actually coming to it. things will come up, especially now. be prepared to see few attendees. events can still be amazing when small.
  • iterate: try hosting events at different times of day. try different days of the week. try giving your events a theme. you’ll have to experiment to find what works for the people you’re inviting.
  • know that if no one comes, you haven’t failed: you’ve learned. it’s a difficult time out there for folks and they’re struggling even to do daily tasks. your friends not being able to attend doesn’t mean they don’t love you. it might mean that you need to make even more friends, so you have a wider pool to draw on for connection.
  • remember that you can invite people from any geographic location! maybe now’s the opportunity to introduce folks from back east/west/north/south to your local crew. reconnect with people you used to be in close physical proximity to!

here are some event ideas:

  • a game night(/afternoon/morning): i’ve been using jackbox and zoom to play party games with my friends. jackbox costs money (and so does tabletop simulator on steam, if board games are more your speed) and i don’t have a good alternative for that. but only one copy of any of the jackbox game packs needs to be available to a group, so maybe cost sharing is possible.
  • an open mic: invite your friends to share their writing, their music, or their other creative talent. i love getting to experience the art my loved ones create.
  • a self-care toolkit party: your group gets together to discuss the struggles each person is having with their mental, spiritual, emotional, and/or physical health (as folks are comfortable sharing) and to share the self-care strategies folks are using or have used to deal with them in a healthy way. the goal is to build community, cultivate collective care, and gain new skills from the wisdom our loved ones have.
  • host a virtual dinner party: make it a costume one or an ultra formal one (for whatever formal means to you) if you want to add extra intrigue
  • throw a movie night using netflix party or twoseven

for more ideas on connection, see my blog post about ways you can help others while stuck at home. connection is important and you’ll be making a meaningful difference in the lives of your loved ones by creating opportunities for connection with them.

one last connection idea: talk to me (and each other) in the comments! i’d love to hear about how you’re staying connected. i’m iterating on my methods and would be deeply appreciative to learn from you.

want to support this project? become a patron at patreon.com/kymagdalene. or toss me money for a coffee on venmo, @Ky-Magdalene.

6 funds and organizations supporting trans people during covid-19 to donate to or request support from

hello, loves. i’ve been saying this a lot lately, but the fact remains that it’s hard out there these days. getting basic needs met is even more of a challenge that usual for many of us. to help address getting those basic needs met, i started a covid-19 tab on the trans resources spreadsheet, and in this post, i’m going to list some organizations and funds that are supporting trans folks during this pandemic.

if you’re able to financially support any of these funds or organizations, please do, especially if you’re a cis person. good accomplishship includes sharing resources, particularly since cis privilege means you’re more likely to be resourced.

if you’re not able to provide monetary support, help get the word out about the orgs and funds listed below via social media or bring it up over your zoom hangouts. word of mouth is the most effective way to garner support for something!

i’ve organized this list by geographic location in hopes that that will make it easy to navigate.

WORLDWIDE

the trans resiliency fund “serve[s] trans women and trans femmes who are Black, Indigenous, and/or people of colour, particularly those engaged in sex economies – regardless of geographic location.” the fund has helped folks the world over and, if they aren’t able to meet your need, they can direct you to other avenues and support you through the process of seeking that help, according to their gofundme.

seek support from them here.

support them here.

the gender reveal trans mutual aid fund has helped trans folks in 6 continents so far by paying them out from the fund or connecting them directly with folks with resources to share via their twitter. funds are given out to support basic needs, including food, rent, and medication.

you can apply for support here.

you can donate here.

UNITED STATES

the black trans advocacy coalition’s black trans covid-19 community response grant program is giving microgrants of up to $125 “to ensure the basic needs of our most vulnerable populations are met.” they are granting from the following funds:

  • trans masculine, trans feminine or trans gnc/non-binary
  • golden flame senior 55+
  • people living with hiv
  • ball/house and pageant
  • health care workers on the front-line

applications are only open for a few more days (until May 1st). you can apply here.

you can donate here.

WASHINGTON

ingersoll gender center has many grant programs to support trans and gender non-conforming folks during this time. these programs include financial assistance for basic needs and for rent and serve various populations. they are also running a food access program for folks in king county.

you can apply for any of these programs here.

you can donate to support these programs here.

utopia’s qtpi relief fund is “provid[ing] financial assistance to all QTPI (Queer and/or Trans and Gender Diverse Pacific Islanders’) in Washington State who are experiencing a financial setback due to the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” they are providing up to $250 in cash assistance. they are also partnering with ingersoll in some of the efforts discussed above.

you can request support here.

you can donate here.

the trans women of color solidarity network provides financial support to meet the basic needs of two spirit people and trans women/trans femmes of color and has reopened funding after a brief hiatus to do so during covid-19. they provide low/no barrier financial support and can provide up to $250 per month.

you can request support here.

you can give a one-time donation to their gofundme, or you can sign up to be a monthly supporter via their patreon.

if you know of any orgs or fund that are supporting trans folks that i didn’t include, please drop them in the comments!

want to support this project? become a patron at patreon.com/kymagdalene. or toss me money for a coffee on venmo, @Ky-Magdalene.

six resources for teaching cis folks you’re stuck with during self-isolation about trans identities

while some trans and/or non-binary are stuck in dangerously cissexist environments (follow this link for some help in dealing with that), some of us are stuck in casually cissexist environments — that is, some cis folks who love us don’t have trans education down, but they want to learn.

i’ve been gathering resources for months about teaching trans 101 to cis folks, because i’m tired of having to do the legwork of getting basic trans info together over and over again. these resources — and many more — are compiled on this spreadsheet, but i’ve highlighted some of my favorites below. all of these resources are accessible for free online.

it can be a lot of emotional labor for us to educate folks about our identities and my hope is that this article gives you the tools to send those well-meaning cis folks off to educate themselves with sources that, while imperfect, are solid starting points.

trans 101

trams 101 is an australian website hosting a “gender diversity crash course.” trans 101 uses videos and booklets to convey its information, allowing visitors to interact with its materials in whichever way works best for them. in addition to providing basic educational information about what being trans is and is like, trans 101 also helps guide visitors in making the world a better place for trans folks. the information is solid and nuanced and making the further step to guide folks in how to use it makes me really appreciate this site.

someone else’s gender identity isn’t about you

this article by janna leadbetter at scarymommy.com is one of my favorite blog posts. like ever. the language used in it to discuss transgender people isn’t always up-to-date, but as of the time of this writing, none of it is harmful necessarily, just odd.

but the attitude is spot on. take this excerpt:

…a parent who denies their child [the] opportunity [to live as themself] is only concerned with their own happiness, what others think of them, and control of who they believe is a mere extension of them, rather than a separate human with different development and a right to individuality.

if you need to give a parent (or grandparent) of a trans kid a dressing down, this is the article for it.

questionable questions about transgender identity

cis folks often ask trans folks incredibly intrusive questions without consideration for whether that’s okay. this pdf created by the national center for transgender equality lists common questions asked in this way, gives general answers, and explains why asking each question is a no-go. i hope it’s able to stall off at least some of those awful questions for you.

biological sex is a spectrum thread by sciencevet

if you’ve had experiences similar to mine, you’ll have run into a lot of arguments along the lines of “there are only two sexes, therefore there are only two genders.” this is nonsense and it’s frustrating nonsense. this twitter thread by @ScienceVet2 (vetted by my biologist partner) is a great breakdown of how biological sex is much more complex than that gross oversimplification. it even discusses why this complexity is important to understand.

if you need more information to share on this topic, like i usually find myself needing in convos with many cis folks, dictionary.com has a decent explanation of the distinction between sex and gender. and you can direct folks to this video by intersex folks about being intersex, which also takes a moment to explain that being intersex and being trans are different.

gender variance around the world over time

this teen vogue article is a great introduction to instances of gender variance throughout multiple cultures across time. it aptly illustrates that trans identities are not new and that there are cultural models already in existence for honoring such identities. those claims that transness is “a new fad” are easily dismissed by this.

using non-binary pronouns 101: a how-to

i’ve run into a lot of well-meaning people who want to use my pronouns correctly, but get stumped by them. my guess is that there are a number of folks stuck in homes right now with people who want to get their pronouns right but currently aren’t. i wrote this blog post and created its accompanying resources to give those folks a space to learn about using non-binary pronouns in an in-depth and hands-on way. the how-to details methods of learning non-binary pronouns and provides practice worksheets. it also explains the etiquette of using pronouns and teaches people how to correct themselves and others when they make mistakes, which is applicable to all pronouns, not just non-binary ones.

for more resources on teaching cis folks about trans identities, explore the spreadsheet i mentioned earlier or check out my blog post about teaching kids queer history, all of the sources in which are of course also good for adult learners.

are there any resources for teaching folks about trans identities that you love that i missed? please link them in the comments for us to use!

want to support this project? become a patron at patreon.com/kymagdalene. or toss me money for a coffee on venmo, @Ky-Magdalene.

4 resilience practices for trans people stuck in cissexist homes during self-isolation

hey, loves. i know it’s tough times out there for everyone, but trans people currently stuck in homes where their identities are not affirmed during self-isolation have been especially on my mind lately. i grew up in an unaffirming home and the difficulties of that linger in my body and heart. i want to provide you all with some resilience practices to help get you through.

(if you’re in a home with cis folks who are open to learning about trans identities, there are resources for you here.)

i first heard the term “resilience practice” from autumn brown, a “mother, organizer, theologian, artist, and facilitator” whose work i admire. i can’t remember if i first heard her say it as a guest on another podcast or whether it was on the podcast she hosts with her sister, adrienne maree brown, titled “how to survive the end of the world.” either way, “how to survive the end of the world” is well worth checking out, especially right now, as we enter this new phase of apocalypse (framed in the brown sisters’ podcast as an opportunity for creative rebirth).

resilience practices, for me, are the next growth step after coping mechanisms. coping mechanisms serve a purpose — and have kept me alive — but they are ways of survival that are no longer what’s best suited for me. i honor the ones i’ve used but prefer to build resilience practices now because i want practices that allow me to do more than just survive the hard times. i want to maintain and grow my resilience, my health, my well-being at all times.

here are some resilience practices ideas i have for trans folks stuck in unsafe environments. please take what’s useful and leave what’s not. remember that you can modify these for your own needs and levels of safety. ❤

1.) reach out to other trans people. if you have other trans friends, set up regular communication with them to the extent that it is safe for you to do so. start a group chat, have a zoom meeting, write each other coded letters (i enjoy using kryptonese for things i need to code, but you can always have fun inventing your own). be mindful that the jury’s still out on whether mail is safe right now; you might need to write the letters and send pics of them to each other.

if you don’t have trans friends handy (or even if you do, but you want a different kind of support), you can reach out to trans lifeline, a support line staffed entirely by trans and/or non-binary people. they will understand your struggle; they will recognize you as you are. their united states number is 877-565-8860 and their canadian number is 877-330-6366.

2.) talk to someone who affirms your identity and ask them to use your name and pronouns in spaces where it’s safe for you to experience them. my partner occasionally refers to me in the third person in my hearing/sight as a habit these days, because the use of my pronoun brings me such relief and gender euphoria. he does this verbally and over text. you can ask people who are in the know about your pronouns to do the same, using whatever communication method keeps you safe. you can also ask these folks to use your true name more often than they typically do during these times.

for me, hearing my correct name and pronouns helps remind me that my experience of myself is valid. it repairs some of the damage done by misgendering and deadnaming. i hope it can do the same for you.

3.) remind yourself that you are not alone by engaging with trans media. it makes a huge difference in my life to hear other trans and/or non-binary folks talk about themselves and their experiences. i feel validated by it and seen by it. to that end, i love the podcast gender reveal, which features host molly woodstock (they/them) interviewing humans with diverse gender experiences about their lives, philosophical thoughts, and projects. molly is a fantastic interviewer and the conversations they have with folks are often funny, always real, and winningly personal.

all gender reveal episodes have transcripts! and the podcast also has a slack, if you’re interested in connecting with other trans/non-binary folks in that way.

another thing that helps me is to get in touch with trans history. learning about marsha p. johnson and sylvia rivera makes me feel part of a legacy of resilience. i recommend the following episodes of the making gay history podcast, which include firsthand accounts from both marsha and sylvia (and also have transcripts):

be mindful that some of what you’ll hear on these episodes will be emotionally difficult. please be careful with yourself in deciding whether that’s something that’s good for you right now.

there are also many episodes of the podcast queer as fact which tell the life stories of folks that were trans or were gender non-conforming in ways which we might now describe as trans. each episode features content warnings, so you can determine ahead of time whether it’s healthy for you to listen. not all queer as fact episodes have transcripts, but you can see the transcripts they do have on their tumblr.

4.) create an affirming ritual for yourself. i am really into rituals both as regular practices and as a tool to fall back on as needed. i generally use mine in the latter way, since i’m not great at maintaining any kind of routine. feel into how they’re of most use to you!

some ideas for rituals you could pick up:

  • look at yourself in the mirror, if you’re comfortable doing so, or picture your truest sense of yourself. say your name to yourself. say your pronouns to yourself. do this out loud or internally. remember that no one else needs to acknowledge who you are for you to be who you are.
  • build a secret altar — camouflage it, build it in a place where it won’t be seen, craft it in a way that makes it easy to hide, or make it a mental altar. place items on/in it that remind you of your legacy. remember sylvia rivera, marsha p. johnson, leslie feinberg, other trans and/or non-binary ancestors and elders you know personally or otherwise. greet them in the morning. say goodnight to them at night. bring them with you throughout your day. remember you are not alone.
  • write down every trans/non-binary joke you think of and can’t say to the people around you. write them in code if you have to. burn them in the backyard (safely) if you can and it makes you feel safer to destroy them. share them, before or instead of burning them. tell them to the people on trans lifeline, tell them to your trans/non-binary friends, tell them to the gender reveal slack. remember your trans/non-binary joy and the power it holds.

if none of these ritual ideas hold interest for you, you can modify them or create your own from scratch. there’s a lot of power in a ritual made by someone for their own specific purpose.

i hope that something among these practices is useful to you. i see you and i’m rooting for you.

(do you have other resilience practices that you’re engaging in right now? please share them in the comments!)

(want to support this project? become a patron at patreon.com/kymagdalene. or toss me money for a coffee on venmo, @Ky-Magdalene.)

how to support trans people during covid-19

all vulnerable populations become more vulnerable during times like these, trans folks being no exception. if you’re looking for ways to help the trans people in your life (known to you and unknown to you), check out the list below.

1.) send us money. it’s hard out here and we need to pay our bills. send your trans friends money via paypal, venmo, zelle, cashapp — anything that doesn’t require you to come into physical contact with folks not already living with you.

2.) donate to organizations that support us.

all of these organizations directly help trans individuals. if you can’t get your money into trans hands, they can — and will.

3.) check in on trans friends who are stuck in homes with people they aren’t out to or with people who are unaffirming of their identity. hearing or reading your true name and pronouns can be an intensely refreshing and affirming thing, especially when you’re being deadnamed and misgendered. it’s an important reminder that you are both real and valid and that there are people in the world who see you as you. this can be vital, lifesaving.

remember! be sure that you communicate with these folks in a way that’s safe. a phone call can be lovely, but it’s not as discrete as a text. use your best judgement and defer to your friend, who understands their own safety best.

4.) form plans for how to home a trans person whose living situation during this time is/may become unsafe. first, know whether you can provide shelter: do you have a space they could stay? would that be safe for them and for you during this pandemic? it’s okay if the answer is no; it’s important to be honest about your own capacity and about the needs of the other people in your household.

if you can’t house them yourself, work with the person you’re concerned about to know their other potential housing options ahead of time if you can. can you help them with a deposit on their own place? do you need to create a list of trans and non-binary affirming shelters that they can access should they need it? if you can’t create these plans with them for whatever reason, do the research on your own so that you are familiar with the information.

5.) check on trans folks who live alone. it’s a lonely time for many right now and the stress of loneliness can be even greater when you’re already dealing with the stress of cisexism. i’m not going to quote any mental health statistics regarding the trans community here, because they’re tragic and i can’t handle typing the numbers. reach out to your friends. if you need help coming up with ideas about how to connect while socially — which really just means physically — distancing, check out this post.

6.) check in with trans elders about creating an emergency medical plan. according to the national resource center on lgbt aging, the queer community have additional risk factors in facing covid-19. queer folks smoke at higher rates than non-queer folks — a problem when trying to fend off a respiratory disease like covid-19 — and they face additional barriers in accessing healthcare, especially trans folks. members of the queer community are also more likely to be HIV+ (and thus immunocompromised), and with the stigma of being HIV+ somehow still existing, it’s likely that you wouldn’t know that someone you love is HIV+. seniors are also a group at high risk if they contract covid-19. leaving our trans elders out in the cold is not an option.

the national resource center on lgbt aging’s emergency plan guidelines are as follows:

Creating a Plan – Advice from the CDC
https://www.cdc.gov/features/older-adult-emergency/index.html

The first step in preparing for an emergency is creating a plan. Work with your friends, family, and neighbors to develop a plan that will fit your needs.

 Choose a contact person who will check on you during a disaster, and decide how you will communicate with each other (for instance, by telephone, knocking on doors). Consider speaking with your neighbors about developing a check-in system together.
 Create a list of contact information for family members and friends. Leave a copy by your phone(s) and include one in your Emergency Supply Kit.
 Plan how you will leave and where you will go during an evacuation. If you are living in a retirement or assisted living community, learn what procedures are in place in case of emergencies. Keep a copy of exit routes and meeting places in an easy-to-reach place.

Create a care plan and keep a copy in your Emergency Supply Kit. Try out CDC’s easy-to use care plan templateCdc-pdf.

i don’t want to leave this article without providing some resources for trans folks themselves. i’ve updated my trans resources spreadsheet with a covid-19 tab and will continuously add more resources as i find them. if you know of any resources available to trans folks during this time, please let us know in the comments below!

also, if you’re trans and/or non-binary and feel like i’ve left something off this list of how to help folks right now, please let me know that in the comments, too!

(want to support this project? become a patron at patreon.com/kymagdalene. or toss me money for a thai tea on venmo, @Ky-Magdalene.)

trans resources

updated 4/11/2020

i’ve been putting together a spreadsheet of resources for trans folks and i think that it’s now a significant enough document to make public. it certainly still has room to grow and if you see a resource missing from it, please email me at kymagdalene@gmail.com!

i am especially interested in getting info about organizations outside of seattle, since that’s definitely a weakness in the sheet right now.

this spreadsheet is very much a living document that i am always adding to!

current table of contents for the spreadsheet reads as follows:

COVID-19
For Teaching Trans 101 to Cis Folks
Workplace Policies

Transitioning
Seattle Area Organizations & Resources
Organizations & Resources Outside of Seattle

National and Transnational Organizations
Misc
Resources for Allies/Accomplices

link to the spreadsheet

(if you would like to support this and other current and forthcoming projects, you can do so at patreon.com/kymagdalene.)

using non-binary pronouns 101: a how-to

this post is now available as a zine that’s free to print!

you know someone who uses non-binary/gender neutral pronouns, you lucky duck! if you’ve not built the speech patterns for using non-binary pronouns, you might feel a little out of your depth. that’s a natural first feeling, but now that you’ve felt it, you need to let it go to embrace this learning curve. you get to learn more about goodness! and inclusivity! you’re part of building a better world and that’s beautiful and exciting! here are some tips to get you started 🙂

about this post

-i’m ky magdalene, a white, non-binary trans person living in and writing from the united states whose pronouns are they/them.

-i primarily refer to the pronouns discussed in this post as non-binary pronouns because i mean just that: not binary, i.e. not he/him/his or she/her/hers. i do not mean that only non-binary people can or do use these pronouns, just as not all folks using she/her are women and not all folks using he/him are men. pronouns don’t equal gender!

-this post is about using people’s non-binary pronouns, but be aware that when someone tells you their pronouns, you may need to use them with discretion for that person’s safety. use good judgement to determine if that may be the case and ask them how/when/where to use their pronouns if you need to. then follow their guidelines.

examples of non-binary pronouns

this is a non-exhaustive list of non-binary/gender neutral pronouns. some folks use these, some folks use others, and some folks create their own!

they / them / their / theirs / themself

ze / zir / zir / zirs / zirself

ze / hir / hir / hirs / hirself

xe / xem / xyr / xyrs / xemself

for a guide on pronouncing some non-binary pronouns, visit https://www.mykidisgay.com/blog/defining-neopronouns?rq=neopronouns.

how to learn a particular person’s pronouns

you won’t be able to tell someone’s pronouns by looking at them, unless they’re wearing identifiers such as pronoun pins, so here are tips for learning what people’s pronouns are!

1) introduce yourself with your pronouns. this will often prompt the people you’re meeting to do the same. 

example: “hi, i’m so-and-so. my pronouns are he/him.”

2) just ask! if you need to take the edge off how strange it can feel to ask a question you’re not used to asking, you can couch it in your introduction. 

example: “hi, i’m so-and-so. my pronouns are ze/hir; what are yours?”

if you’re past the introductory stage of your interactions, you can still just ask. a simple “oh, what’re your pronouns? mine are she/her” works wonders at any point.

3) check for pronoun pins, pronouns on name tags, or for pronouns to be listed in an email signature. it’s good practice for everyone to list their pronouns in their email signature; add yours if you don’t have them! 

my email signature looks like this:

ky magdalene
pronouns: they/them/theirs
[my job title]

how to build the speech pattern of using non-binary pronouns

using non-binary pronouns might be new to you; that’s all right! you can pick up that skill just like any other 🙂

1) practice with people whose genders you don’t know. use gender neutral pronouns for strangers or new people you’ve met whose pronouns you don’t know yet. remember, you can’t discern someone’s gender or pronouns from their appearance, unless they’re wearing identifiers.

2) practice with animals. if animals have genders, we don’t know them, because they’re unable to tell us what they are. use gender neutral language for them.

3) one of my favorite tips, which i learned from non-binary trans writer vin tanner, who writes at medium.com/@transstyleguide, is to practice using a person’s pronouns while looking at a picture of them. if you don’t have a picture handy, hold an image of them in your mind. then practice using their pronouns out loud, saying things like “so-and-so is a good friend. they are fun and smart and i admire their humor and kindness. i’m glad to know them. i’m glad so-and-so is themself.” intersperse your sentences with their name, so you can connect the two as you build the speech habit!

4) i built a pronoun worksheet to practice with that’s free to print at kymagdalene.com/non-binary-101. fill in the blanks with the person’s name and pronouns as marked and read it aloud.

what to do when you make a mistake 

you’re gonna mess up. everybody who uses a non-binary pronoun at this point in our (united states) cultural history knows this. it’s your responsibility to respond to your mistake with grace and to strive to move past making the same mistakes. mistakes are understandable but not infinitely allowable — and what each person will allow is up to them.

1) apologize: be brief. don’t go on and on about how sorry you are and how you didn’t mean to and all of that. it’s a strong urge, but putting the person you harmed with misgendering in the position of having to make you feel better about having done so causes further harm. also, they’re already doing a lot of emotional labor around being non-binary in this binary culture. don’t add to that. simply say, “i’m sorry” and then…

2) correct yourself. always make sure to take a moment to correct to their right pronoun, even if that person wasn’t around to hear your mistake. if you don’t correct yourself, you won’t build the new speech pattern you need to build and you’ll be teaching others the incorrect one when they hear you.

         example: “he said — i’m sorry — they said that it’s raining.”

what to do when others make a mistake

first, ask the person who uses non-binary pronouns if they want you to correct other people. take any and all direction they have for you on the matter. they may want you to correct people always; they may want you to correct people only when they’re not around to do it themself; they may want you to never correct people; they may want you to correct certain people and not others, depending on who might be in the know about their pronouns and the safety concerns they have about that.

listen to their needs and wants and ask questions if you have them. continue to check in about it over the course of your relationship with them.

to correct someone else, you can interrupt them with the person’s correct pronoun or you can make a point of using the person’s correct pronouns as a reply to someone using the incorrect ones. emphasize their correct pronouns when you do.

         example:

         “she said she’d be late today, right?”

         “xe said xe would be late, yes.”

often that can be enough to clue someone in, but if it isn’t, say something explicitly, such as “oh, so-and-so’s pronoun’s are ze/hir.”

further resources

for more information about how to move through the world in a way that makes it a better and safer place for non-binary folks, check out the following resources!

a quick and easy guide to they/them pronouns by archie bongiovanni and tristan jimerson

medium.com/@transstyleguide

support this project

i have more resources like this in the works and would greatly appreciate your support in surviving capitalism while i make them. you can provide support at patreon.com/kymagdalene or via Venmo @KyMagdalene.