Thank you Vermont and WhatamIdoing for hearing me out, and for your calm, well-reasoned responses.
I am still in two minds about asking everyone to state their pronouns in gendered languages. Calling out pronouns at the start of a discussion can help non-native speakers too, by taking away the need to learn what names typically associate with what gender. But the lived experience from myself and many other genderless language speakers is that, on balance, calling out pronouns in international English discussions promotes gender inclusivity at the expense of raising the entry barrier for non-native English users.
Since my native language is genderless, I make my fair share of honest mistakes with gendered pronouns in English (and German for that matter). In the past we would have a laugh at my mistake (to which I can reply, yeah, you try distinguishing hai6 and hai1 in Cantonese. Content warning: one is the copula and the other a swearword). Then we get over it. But since it became commonplace to state one’s gender at the start of discussions, my mistakes have typically been met with open hostility that assume I was deliberately misgendering someone.
This is why I feel uncomfortable whenever I enter an English discussion that begins with asking everyone to state their pronouns. It not only communicates the appropriate pronouns to use, but also signifies a requirement to have a preference and an expectation to use them correctly. I need to think twice about every personal pronoun I use, because I have learnt to expect open accusations of bigotry with every mistake.
If we want to have a cross-cultural discussion in English, we ought to beware of the entry barrier that these signals can raise.
I have digressed here with my diatribe about stating pronouns. Responding to Vermont’s comment, we are on the same page that it is better to write in general terms (respect self-identity / preferred terminology) rather than specific ones (pronouns). I have no objections to the current wording of UCoC, which has already been refined by three years of movement-wide debate. My worry is that we have written “where linguistically or technically feasible” “be mindful and respectful of each others’ preferences, boundaries, sensibilities, traditions and requirements” but still fall back to an English-native mindset.
I have spent the past decade fighting the uphill battle as a near-native English speaker who represents a language that behaves very differently from English. I have seen both incomprehension (“Error: PLURAL magic word missing in translation” - my language does not inflect for number, shut up) and open denial of the existence of certain features in my native language.
The rational part of me sees no evidence of bad faith and I have no accusations to bring against anyone. But the hard feelings are real - and I imagine, not dissimilar to how you would feel when someone misgenders you.
May I leave you with one Tweet on this matter written by someone I don’t know, but which I really resonate with.
Thanks for hearing me out, again. I really appreciate this discussion.