I am a socially anxious and naturally private person, which generally means that my acquaintances and co-workers don’t know very much about me. I’m not one to share things about my personal life without being asked direct questions. For example, I’ve been working nights at a part-time job in addition to my 9-to-5 for months and only just recently told my co-workers that I have a second job. Divulging this felt like a big deal.
My problem is this: I have a long-distance partner who is trans nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns. My co-workers have no idea I’m dating anyone, and my partner feels that this is odd and erases their identity. The idea of having a personal conversation with my co-workers in general is stressful, and the idea of talking to them—all older, all higher in rank, all less-than-savvy when it comes to gender identity—about personal pronouns is anxiety-inducing for me. I want to be my partner’s primary ally and help educate the people in my life about nonbinary identities. After all, they have to deal with people “not getting” their pronouns and identity every day. How do I push myself to share more of my personal life without anxiety and learn to approach the conversation of pronouns with people in a professional setting—particularly polite office talk?
—How to Help