By Alex S. Morgan
Friendly reminder: gender presentation and identity are not the same thing. Too often we either just guess, or only ask someone’s pronouns if they’re visibly androgynous or gender-non-conforming. (I can count on one hand the number of people who asked me mine before I cut my hair, though I was out as genderqueer for years.)
Whether the cutie in front of you is in stilettos, wingtips, or nothing at all, it’s always best to ask. “What pronouns do you use?” works well in many circles. “How do you prefer to be addressed? Ma’am, Doctor, Sir, Reverend..?” works at other times. If you strongly suspect there’s a right answer, you can lead with it, and if you strongly suspect there’s a wrong answer, you can bury it in the middle. They’ll take it from there. Plus, think of all the doctors and reverends you’ll tickle by asking.
Big thanks to Avid Awake Antonelli for showing how it’s done and why it’s important.
For the record, I appreciate both they and he, am deprecating the use of she, and Sir is always appropriate (Ma’am is for special occasions only, thank you).
Alex S. Morgan is a sex educator based in the Bay Area, California. He can be reached on his website.