Submitted by Marty Steele, Decorah, IA
Madi and Rowan did a fabulous job of both presenting the information and creating a safe space for people to ask their questionsin the Pronoun 101 workshop. I am a retired college counselor who has been to several professional workshops on similar topics and am sure none were as useful, accessible, and safe for exploration as this one. Both Madi and Rowan gave accurate factual information in an accessible manner while being open to sharing personally the impact correct and incorrect use of pronouns has had on them. They sharedsome brief and useful pieces of research without turning this workshop into a lecture, it was without a doubt the most positively welcoming and interactiveworkshop I have been to in recent memory. The audience had many questions, all of which were honored and answered with great sincerity.
I am also the aunt of a trans man and know the fear of violence he and his non-binary partner deal with all the time. That is something Madi and Rowanacknowledged during the workshop and I hope we all heard it; it breaks my heart when my nephew talks about how terrifying it is to go into a public bathroom, for instance, while traveling in new places. Madi and Rowan made the point that the use of correct personal pronouns, or asking what pronouns a person uses, can convey that one is an ally and a safe person who will support without judging or threatening someone who does not use “she” or “he” pronouns.
Toward the end of the presentation, one of them observed that anyone can learn the habit of pronouns that are not necessarily what we are used to. I can say that my 91 year old mother, a former school teacher, is working hard to use the personal pronoun “they” in reference to my nephew and also to his partner at their request; she understands this to be an act of respect and love and practices regularly even though this change is hard for her. Thanks for a wonderful workshop and the opportunity to have dialog about this important issue!