On plural inclusivity and "plural they"
musings re plurality / gender census (1/2)
I find it frickin hilarious that adding the plural checkbox made such a difference, but at the same time i think i get why?
Like, if eg. we've got 4 people with different pronouns, it, it/they, she, and "any/mix it up"
Just checking "it," "they," "she," & "any" kinda feels like we're saying one individual uses all those; being able to note that we're a system at least feels >
musings re plurality / gender census (2/2)
> like it makes it clearer that those pronoun options are used by *different* people, (even if we can only check "it" once when two in this example use it). And for us at least, that's kinda (emotionally) important because the it and it/they absolutely would NOT use she (eugh), so having some way to note that these pronoun sets are *not* all used by the same person feels a hell of a lot better.
musings re plurality / gender census (3/2)
Also we do appreciate the sheer amount of effort you've put in to working to find ways to be more inclusive that's suitable for most systems; there isn't really A Plural Community as such (many of us learn our plurality through a neurodiversity perspective; many through a pathologising perspective) so i can't imagine how difficult it must be to have to navigate all that (esp if you're a singlet relatively new to it all!)
musings re plurality / gender census (3/2)
@certifiedperson Thank you, that's really nice of you to say! :)
musings re plurality / gender census (2/2)
@certifiedperson That definitely makes sense! A lot of people, plural or otherwise, put stuff into the textbox that's like, "I just wanted to clarify that I've checked [pronoun] but I only really use that one at work because it's easier, I actually prefer [other pronoun]." A lot of the time it's just people making sure I understand their situation, but sometimes it feels like people just want to make sure they're not giving the wrong idea, almost!
It's not something I know from personal experience because I'm just a they/them, but if you do go by several different pronouns and there is *any* prioritising or context-dependence then a checkbox list of equally-weighted pronouns must feel very uncomfortable.
@gendercensus I think when it comes to "plural they" probably the reason people have started talking about it is because they use they pronouns, but seeing them listed as "singular they" all of the sudden makes them feel excluded
Personally I'm not entirely sure what to put because I use they but I wouldn't call it singular or plural they. In fact I don't mind if themself or themselves is used as the reflexive for me and I think I switch between the two myself
@gendercensus perhaps it would be possible to just list two different types of they and not label them as either singular or plural?
I think its possible that the thing that feels confusing and exclusionary is just calling it "singular they" and not what the pronoun set actually is
Often I'm confused about what people actually mean by singular they, and it seems others are too
@RadiantEmber If someone(s) sees they/them pronouns in the checkbox list and feels excluded because the pronouns are called "singular they", they can just not check that box, and then type their pronouns into the "another set not listed here" section and call it "plural they", right? The name describes the set's purpose, so someone who feels excluded by the name is excluded because it's just, not their pronoun. That just sounds like the set is well-named to me.
The reflexive isn't particularly relevant to whether it's singular or plural they, so if you're not sure, it's like, do you want people to say "they are a writer" about you, or "they are writers"? If it's the former then you want people to talk about you as if you are one person, so that's singular they. And if it's the latter then you want people to talk about you as if you're two or more people, and that's plural they. If you don't care which reflexive people use, that doesn't stop you choosing something because it has the "wrong" reflexive, so that's fine too.
The pronoun set is called singular they by basically everyone familiar with grammar stuff, and since singular they and plural they have different purposes and the reflexive tends to be different, it makes sense to me to differentiate and keep using the names. The example text is there so that people who aren't familiar with the name "singular they" know whether it's correct for them.
@gendercensus @RadiantEmber "The pronoun set is called singular they by basically everyone familiar with grammar stuff" is that a requirement for participation in the survey? it's not a phrase I've used from nonbinary people ever. some of them I think know some grammar even.
but seriously, when you're making an effort to include plural people, maybe it is not grammarians who ought to be centered?
@gendercensus its very frustrating to have another nonbinary person tell me how I'm supposed to refer to myself and the pronouns I use. According to your metrics I should say I use "singular they" but my point is that I don't call it that. And I prefer not to call it either singular they or plural they
I feel excluded by singular they and yet according to your standards I should identify with it. I thought the point of the survey was to figure out how people *actually* identify
@gendercensus you don't have to change the survey for me, I was just suggesting a possible way to make it less confusing for people and more inclusive
But the way you responded dismissing my concerns and telling me how to label myself is very upsetting
Sometimes nonbinary people don't follow grammar rules. Often this is on purpose or a way of saying that we don't care about what society says is acceptable
I think there should be space for that in a gender census of nonbinary people
@RadiantEmber @gendercensus This would be my vote as well. As far as we're aware, the term "singular they" was popularized as a way to describe usage of *any* they/them pronouns - including both .../themself and .../themselves - to refer to individuals as opposed to groups. We've never seen it used to distinguish between they/them variants of any kind outside the Gender Census, and it's always been more confusing than helpful for us filling out the survey.
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@gendercensus @RadiantEmber Come to think, the stated purpose of the poll is to help inform the conversation around nonbinary people in contexts like legal ones - and whether a politician's website includes a "they/them" checkbox or not has nothing to do with what they call a "they/them" checkbox. Given that the "singular" is a problem for enough users to prompt you to do research to try to resolve, and given that there's no consensus, I don't know that the word needs to be there at all.
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@packbat what I like about they/them pronouns is that they are ambiguous and can be used in a wide range of situations for many different types of people
To me, labelling them as necessarily "singular they" takes away from that
@RadiantEmber @packbat I really get that one of the reasons plural people like singular they is because it is ambiguous in conversation and therefore less abrasive than other pronouns that might be less ambiguous (e.g. anything that says "[pronoun] is" instead of "[pronoun] are"). But they are two different pronoun sets with two distinct use cases and if I want accurate and helpful data I'm not sure why I would ever combine the two!
For example, no one has argued that I should combine Spivak and Elverson, and they're identical except for e vs. ey, people have even been thinking they're the same pronoun set.
The difference between the singular/plural they issue and the Spivak/Elverson issue is that some people are upset that their pronoun isn't on the list. If you're comfortable with a pronoun set until you know what it is called [in meta situations by people who need to call it something], then you are probably comfortable with the pronoun set but you just don't like its name - which is not anything I can control, please take it up with lexicographers!
@RadiantEmber @packbat If the problem with singular they (a pronoun for referring to an individual) is the name, and singular feels uncomfortable for plural people even though the system likes this pronoun, then what you're proposing is that we as a community change the name - is that the case, or have I misunderstood?
Anyhow, the only time I have ever seen the non-binary community use the term "singular they" is in response to people who refuse to use they/them pronouns by claiming it refers to multiple people.
@varve Okay, please imagine I said "but also generally when people are obviously [communicating in this particular way whatever emotion they are feeling] I find that [communication and understanding become increasingly impossible even though everyone is talking]"
And I said that I feel stuck. That seems *extremely* different from tone policing. Tone policing is about control, right? Whereas I am expressing how I feel and trying to work out how/whether I can move forward in this conversation. There is a difference between "I will only talk to you if you speak in a particular tone" (other-focused, blame) and "I feel uncomfortable and I don't think this is going anywhere so I will step away now" (self-focused, responsibility for self).
@gendercensus I mean you can defend yourself all you want, but saying you don't know how to have a productive conversation with people who are obviously angry is the opposite of stepping back and asking why they're angry.
Now, since I'm not angry and haven't been in this conversation long enough to get frustrated, do you want to step back and examine why the people you've been talking to are frustrated?
@varve I am genuinely trying EXTREMELY hard to understand why the people I'm talking to are frustrated. I have already concluded that we don't understand each other and my lack of skill is probably a major factor, and I am trying very hard.
@gendercensus ok. So going by the discussion I have read in this thread, it looks like a big piece of the frustration comes from the way you appear to prioritize what lexicographers call pronouns, rather than the stated purpose of exploring how non-binary people use pronouns.
If you need to name the pronoun sets, go ahead - internally - but it is pretty clear to me at this point that using anything other than the lists in the surveys is alienating a part of your target audience.
@gendercensus glad you're figuring it out. I would suggest that you leave the matter of what lexicographers call things out of the discussion entirely, as soon as the community you're surveying indicates that they don't use that terminology. You aren't surveying lexicographers, after all.
@varve Yes, I've already come to that conclusion too. (From my end it seems like you are unsolicitedly attempting to advise me on a problem that I have already resolved, which feels quite condescending.)
@varve A friend of mine who I'm talking with on another platform has pointed out that "the community you're surveying indicates that they don't use that terminology" is an oversimplification, if that's helpful at all - a LOT of nonbinary people call it singular they also, and know what that name means, which is why I've been using the name in the survey this whole time!
@gendercensus ah, sorry. I had taken the post I initially responded to as a request of sorts and was responding accordingly. Now that I'm aware that you consider the matter resolved and my advice is not requested, I will step away from the conversation.
@varve Thanks for understanding! :)
But if that's the case it is likely those people who know it can extrapolate what it is called by merely reading the pronoun sets there is no need to call them that in the actual survey and confusing the people taking it, it is for us after all and if not then it should be, if you're recieving feedback that calling pronoun sets by their 'official' names is confusing perhaps it would be good to list them as people wish them to be listed.
It should not be a requirement to know the names of pronoun sets nor have a deep understanding of grammar just to take a survey, which I'll reiterate should be about us, not any other group of people, if it is about others, then please clearly state that and we can always go make our own which is for us.
@photonicfae @RadiantEmber @packbat I am discussing this with multiple plural people and singlets right now, and I'm finding that people can mean at least three different things when referring to the singular/plural they distinction:
A) 1 or 2+ identities (regardless of number of bodies)
B) 1 or 2+ bodies (regardless of number of identities)
C) singular or plural reflexive
I am going by (A) and I think lexicographers would too, my singlet friend who I'm also talking to and disagreeing with is going by (B) and thinks that lexicographers would too. Many survey participants seem to be going by (C), but many also seem to not be. And I'm trying to work out how to navigate that and how to articulate that in the survey in order to collect meaningful information.
@photonicfae @RadiantEmber @packbat Lexicographers are the only group of people who have collectively named "they/them pronouns when used to refer to an individual", so that's the only pronoun set name I know to use, but now that I know that a LOT of people are in lots of confusion/disagreement about the name (and it's not obvious that it refers to the use case, and it's not a given that those lexicographers would accept that plural people can be multiple people in one body) I need to find a more meaningful way to differentiate the two sets.
To my knowledge there are no special circumstances where Spivak is used, or any differences in the way Spivak is used depending on the situation, so there wouldn't need to be descriptive bits to replace the names.
@gendercensus @RadiantEmber @packbat There is in that it is confusing for people taking the survey if you call it Spivak rather than just listing the pronouns many people will get confused, I don't understand why it is necessary to list the names of pronoun sets rather than just the pronouns themselves?
@photonicfae @RadiantEmber @packbat In every case except they/them, listing the names is just an optional extra that might help people find their set in a list, or be informative ("oh, that set is called Spivak? Cool!").
For they/them, there are two sets that differ based on meaning, and lexicographers differentiate them in conversation/writing by name for convenience, but it is clear that this convention isn't working in the survey and I need to differentiate by something else. A description of the meaning instead of a name seems to work better for you! So, that's a promising way forward that I can investigate.
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