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My husband works in academia and generally just tries to avoid gender nonsense altogether. He is willing to play along to a certain extent when he has to, though, because jobs are... necessary. He has managed to keep pronouns out of his signature so far, and is the only one in his department without them, so he's already a little worried that's he outing himself.

He came to me this morning with a conundrum. He's like "you know, the whole pronoun thing isn't even helpful, practically." It turns out that he has to write a somewhat formal email to a colleague who he hasn't met or corresponded with yet (so he wouldn't feel comfortable using just the first name). This woman isn't a Dr. (so he can't use that out), and has the listed pronouns "they/them." He had no idea how to proceed and was a little stressed out about it. I joked that he should use "Mx. Soandso" and was met with a look of horror, so I suggested just using the whole name, which I figure is pretty safe and non-committal to ideology, if a little awkward sounding.

Does the general public know how to deal with that kind of situation? Fucking exhausting.

My husband works in academia and generally just tries to avoid gender nonsense altogether. He is willing to play along to a certain extent when he has to, though, because jobs are... necessary. He has managed to keep pronouns out of his signature so far, and is the only one in his department without them, so he's already a little worried that's he outing himself. He came to me this morning with a conundrum. He's like "you know, the whole pronoun thing isn't even helpful, practically." It turns out that he has to write a somewhat formal email to a colleague who he hasn't met or corresponded with yet (so he wouldn't feel comfortable using just the first name). This woman isn't a Dr. (so he can't use that out), and has the listed pronouns "they/them." He had no idea how to proceed and was a little stressed out about it. I joked that he should use "Mx. Soandso" and was met with a look of horror, so I suggested just using the whole name, which I figure is pretty safe and non-committal to ideology, if a little awkward sounding. Does the general public know how to deal with that kind of situation? Fucking exhausting.

62 comments

Maybe avoid the name altogether and just write ‘Good Morning’ and follow on from there.

Dear Sir and/or Madam,

Haha! I love the "and/or." I'm pretty sure the enby way is to be neither, though, right? How about "Dear person Jones"? Wait, maybe they're both, though and yours would work...

[–] SecondSkin 10 points Edited

It’s Dear Sirs and/or Madams.

They is plural. And often they’s** are plural.*

(Although it should maybe be Mesdames)

(Unless OPs husband works in a brothel, then defer to the first option)

(*Not they (singular) is plural. They’s** (plural) are plural (DID))

I think.

If only there was an easier way to use language. Binary one maybe?😁

(**is it they, theys or they’s for the plural-singular they? God this is exhausting)

(In all seriousness I just had a dsl very confused as to why I object to they as gender neutral. She wasn’t impressed when I pointed out that as an English teacher she should understand it’s bad grammar and leads to obfuscating meaning and poor communication. It’s not like children ever write the way they speak and could end up in similar tangles, is it now 🤔. Ladles and jellyspoons is now real communication)

I want people to really start using "they" as singular when talking about a gender person. Like: "Is they coming with us to the cafeteria?" "No, they is finishing up they's report. They's boss is really riding they's ass today." Like why not go all in? If you're just one person it doesn't make sense to use "they are" because no one would ever say "she are". If they want it to be equivalent to he/she/first name, then do it already! Then it will be clearer to the listener if they're talking about several people or one weirdo. Even the most violent TRA won't be able to say this shit with a straight face.

That actually is pretty normal grammar in some... Aave dialects I think? So they can't it would be too racist 😂

Nice answer - Dear Snowflake

Honest answer - Hey Asshole

[–] Lilith-Fair 8 points Edited

I'm all for it!

Dear Narcissist

Dear PC Baby

Dear Full of Shit

Actually in all seriousness I’d say as OPs husband knows this is a woman, then stick to factual pronouns.

This ridiculous language game is narcissistic control. This isn’t some straightforward request to use a middle name instead of a first one, or a reminder it’s Dr not Mrs. This does cause people real stress worrying over, and getting wrong, this convoluted language control. People should stop feeding into the game and get on with common sense.

[–] ladyagatha 30 points Edited

I agree with the comments about using a title. Maybe something like:

  • Dear Instructor Smith,

  • Greetings, PhD Candidate Smith,

  • Greetings, Lab Director Smith,

Etc.?

Yes! You're right. These all seem so reasonable sitting there.

[–] SecondSkin 14 points Edited

Until you get to Dear cleaner, Dear checkout operator, Dear disabled person who can not work, Dear benefit claimant.

Then you’d be accused of being classist.

(Shouldn’t be considered a status related insult, but in the UK it would be looked at as if this terminology was used as a put down)

I start all my emails with "Good Morning/Afternoon", then I write the email using no gendered pronouns whatsoever. Just use their name and You/your(s). It's effective.

[–] crodish 🔪🍠 27 points

No prefixes then, just the name. "GREETINGS, ENBY." Like a robot.

I love that you clocked this person as a woman already though lmao

Do you really need to clock enbys, though? She's just... a woman. With a female name and a female face and a female everything else, other than pronouns. Mullet, 80s glasses, and Hawaiian shirt optional.

Use the whole name. I often encounter names from languages I don't know, and I can't tell whether those names are male or female, so in formal situations I always use the whole name, for everybody.

If I don't know their name I put Dear Sir/Madam. I realise this will not satisfy the enbies but have they proposed a solution yet? Maybe "Dear Human Being"?

Yes, you're right. I also do this quite a bit because I simply can't tell from the name. In this case, he knows (and she knows that he knows) that this is a they/them woman, so he thought it would be weird to just use her whole name, but I think it will be just fine.

I honestly think that Mx. is a proposed solution, but it's gotten next to no attention. This is confusing to me, because TRAs don't normally have any problem getting their message/preferences/demands out. Sometimes it really feels like enbies enjoy the confusion and resulting correction/taking offence.

Dear First-name Lastname

Speaking of which: our chair announced that we finally have the opportunity to add our pronouns to our page of the department website. Yay!!! /s I just don't understand how they can think that's a good idea.

Dear Monarch/higher deity/superior/leader/wiserthanme

That is what’s being expected when someone demands wrong pronouns/plural pronouns.

[–] OwnLyingEyes 4 points Edited

Pretty sure if we crack open an old Emily Post guide, it would be

"Dear Headache,

[Message]

Tiredly,

-Name"

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