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Most people don’t have just one moment when they realized what their gender was. It’s something that happened gradually, a sum total of their life experiences to date, and may still be evolving now. It works the same if you’re trans or gender-nonconforming. And though we’ve all dreamed of Labyrinth-era David Bowie looking into his crystal ball and giving us an identity epiphany, life disappoints.
In other words, Can I remind you of a time in your life when you were unhappy and not yourself? Often, bringing up the past can cause distress to trans and GNC individuals (like most trauma survivors). Keep the conversation current, and honor your acquaintance’s self-expression. Curiosity is not an excuse for voyeurism.
Actually, non-binary gender expression is not a new thing. Gender expansiveness has a long history in many communities around the world, including two-spirits in Native American culture and fa'afafine in Samoa and New Zealand. These identities are not only deeply spiritual, they also pre-date Shiloh Jolie-Pitt by more than a century.
For trans and GNC people, shifting their identity is not something taken lightly. Living their true gender exposes them to a disproportionately high amount of violence and harassment, and yet is often the only option for living authentically. Implying that someone has made this life-altering decision to be "cool" erases the fact that it is a survival necessity.
Trans and GNC people may adopt new pronouns, and some folks use pronouns outside of the traditional gender binary (like ze or zir). Using someone’s chosen pronouns is an essential way to show that you respect them.
Often, there is an adjustment period, and you will make mistakes. That’s okay! Just correct yourself, move on, and don’t make it about you. Committing to using your trans/GNC acquaintances’ preferred pronouns is a meaningful and critical act of support.
One last note here: Never assume pronouns! It is always better to ask first. For bonus points, include your own pronouns in your introductions as well.