Wedding Woes

Call them 'they'?

Dear Prudence,

Recently, I learned that one of my exes has transitioned, and I find myself confused about how to think and talk about our history together. For background, at the time that we dated (about 10 years ago), we both identified as cisgender lesbians. We have no current contact, and I am not looking to reestablish contact. Still, he was a significant person in my life, and it’s not unusual for experiences that included him to come up in my present-day conversations with others. Now that I know, I want to use male pronouns and his new name in how I conceptualize and speak about him. However, my memories are of a woman. I want to be respectful of who he is today, but I also can’t erase my own experiences. It feels inaccurate to describe that time in my life as me being in a relationship with a man or to talk about the experiences I had with him using male pronouns to refer to the person I was with then. How can I honor who he is today and still find a way to honor my own memories with this person?

–Past Pronouns

Re: Call them 'they'?

  • Use their name instead of pronouns? 

    But you can still honor your memories of them & your relationship but use language that recognizes their full self. Choosing not to use the pronouns you know they use feels a little like not acknowledging who they are. 
    mrsconn23MissKittyDanger
  • neutral pronouns might be easiest here. "They" "Them" etc
    short+sassy
  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    I actually deal with this myself... I like your ideas of “they, we, them” since I have no idea where they are in their transition. I find it easy just to not talk about them in general though. 

    mrsconn23charlotte989875short+sassy
  • If the LW is talking to someone who knew them and their ex, then they should be able to easily explain they've transitioned and refer to them by their new identity.  

    If they're wanting to talk about it to someone new (especially romantically) about their past, they can say, "A significant partner from my past transitioned after we were together."  And then they can refer to them by their current identity and name.  

    I just wonder how often this even comes up for LW.  They state they have no contact and don't want any with their ex.  What do they need to explain on a regular basis about this person and their relationship? 
    charlotte989875short+sassy
  • VarunaTTVarunaTT member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Y'all are going to think I'm crazy, but here's my thing:  She either needs to commit to using the male pronouns and name all the way and just be willing to not explain to people the details of her former partner's genitals/gender identity or keep using the female name and pronouns she seems to prefer.

    You never know who people know and outing a transperson is dangerous.  So it's not appropriate in my mind for her to use the male pronouns and then explain, "He transitioned" if people are nosy enough to ask about someone's sex life.  Lots of lesbians have had past heterosexual appearing relationships and she can just use that cover if she truly wants to respect him.
    mrsconn23charlotte989875short+sassy
  • VarunaTT said:
    Y'all are going to think I'm crazy, but here's my thing:  She either needs to commit to using the male pronouns and name all the way and just be willing to not explain to people the details of her former partner's genitals/gender identity or keep using the female name and pronouns she seems to prefer.

    You never know who people know and outing a transperson is dangerous.  So it's not appropriate in my mind for her to use the male pronouns and then explain, "He transitioned" if people are nosy enough to ask about someone's sex life.  Lots of lesbians have had past heterosexual appearing relationships and she can just use that cover if she truly wants to respect him.
    To add on to that, she hasn't even heard this directly from the ex.  They don't communicate, so it's not like she even knows the pronouns they prefer.  They also won't know the pronouns she uses for them.  Much less have been asked by her ex to please use "pronoun".

    I think of it like this.  In my single life, I was generally an LTR kind of gal.  I had five LTRs (each one 1-2 years) before I started dating my H.  They were all men when I dated them.  Is it possible one of them transitioned to female or became gender neutral at some point in time.  Sure it is.  But would I have any way to know that?  I don't.  So on the "ahem" rare occasion I say something about one of them, it is with a male pronoun.  Even if they use different pronouns nowadays, they can't be offended about a conversation they are not a part of and would never know anything about. 
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    STARMOON44mrsconn23charlotte989875
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