My most recent experiences in the classroom, coupled with my experiences while conducting research within the transgender community, however, have convinced me that our current practice of asking that everyone state their personal pronoun is not a good idea. My position is perhaps best explained by sharing two experiences.
In my gender class, as it has come to be known, I ask that students journal in response to readings, class discussions or a prompt on a controversial issue. Occasionally, those entries get personal. In a recent year, a student revealed in an entry that they thought they might be transgender. The next time I spoke with the student alone, with the best of intentions, I asked what pronoun they wanted me to use. Their eyes filled with tears as they answered, “I don’t know.” At about the same time, I asked someone at a conference what pronoun to use, and she burst into tears. She later explained that she had hoped that she “passed” and that my question made her feel like she did not.