The “uncanny valley” or bukimi no tani (不気味の谷) is a concept in the field of human aesthetics first articulated by Japanese robotics professor Masahiro Mori in 1970 that explains the relationship between a human’s subjective response to a rendering of something corporeal and the degree to which the rendering imitates the original. As a pioneer in robotics developing nir craft, Mori attempted to make nir creations look more and more human over time. Initially, people responded more and more favorably to this effort, but eventually Mori found that if a robot came too close to appearing human, people felt disturbed and repulsed by it instead.
In trying to guide myself through my transition, I find role models to be indispensable. Learning about success stories keeps me going when I get discouraged and think what I want to achieve is impossible. Unfortunately, I can count the number of genderqueer persons with a male history who can serve as a role model on one hand. Kate Bornstein, Riki Wilchins, and the anonymous author of ThirdWayTrans are inspiring, but I’d ideally like to find and connect with people who were able to end up with an integrated transgender identity without taking the transsexual path. Here are a few of my role models.
If anyone ends up reading this blog, I’m sure it will not be long until someone creates a stink about my using gender-agnostic pronouns for transgender people. In order to head that controversy off at the pass, I’ve decided to explain at the outset my reasons for writing this way.
The fact is I use genderless pronouns for everyone in written language regardless of nir morphology, gender identity, expression, or assignment at birth. (I’m trying as much as I can to do the same in spoken language but it’s more difficult to keep it up. I also prefer the term gender-agnostic or genderless to gender-neutral because these terms do not assume that male and female are “opposite” sexes, like acids and bases that can be canceled out into a “neutral” solution.)
Here are my reasons for using genderless pronouns for everyone:
- It eliminates the problem of speshul snowflake pronouns. I don’t need to tell you my “preferred pronoun” and hope that you parrot it back to me. And you don’t have to maintain a roster of a dozen different pronouns for all of your friends.
- It focuses on what I can control rather than playing the victim. I can’t realistically expect that anyone is going to call me anything other than “he.” But it will probably be pretty obvious I don’t like it if I’m constantly using a genderless pronoun for everyone else. Continue reading