Transgender Talk: The Correct Pronoun Makes a Difference

transgender sign girlTeressa’s note: I wrote this blog post three years ago.  We, as a family, no longer have a problem with Boo’s pronoun (except when referring to Boo as a child – then I sometimes slip).  However, in light of the current news about Caitlyn Jenner, I thought it might be helpful to repost. 

As I mentioned in my first post about Boo (see Our Transgender Child: Boo’s Story), we are struggling some with referring to Boo as “she.”  After all, I birthed a boy baby and raised a boy child for 18 years.  It’s not that easy to suddenly switch from “he” to “she.”

The system we set up to date has not been working very well.  It was basically the same system we used when we were transitioning away from Boo’s old name.  She would correct us with her new name every time we misspoke.  So we tried that system with pronouns also, but it got to where I was being corrected so often that I started finding ways to avoid using pronouns altogether so as to not have to be corrected so often.

It all hit the fan about a week ago when I was having a conversation in the kitchen with Bud.  Boo was in the livingroom watching TV.  I referred to Boo as “he” and she yelled across the house “SHE”.  Definitely time for a new system.

Mind you we are very careful when we are out in public with Boo and even when we do occasionally mess up we always correct ourselves (and I’m sure the wait staff or cashier thinks we’re insane).  But for every day, around the house we needed to work it out.

I read an article on the PFLAG website in which the author mentions that her son’s gentle correction either during or immediately after a problem, along with his good humor in the situation, went a long way towards making the process easier.  She also relays that a friend of her son’s used the code word “bananas” to correct his friends and family without drawing more attention.

I discussed the situation with Boo and she came up with a unique answer.  She will sign the ASL sign for girl whenever we say “he” instead of “she”.

transgender sign girl

(For more American Sign Language (ASL) resources check out

The important thing for us to remember is to respect Boo’s change and try to honor her wishes.  The important thing for Boo to remember is to be patient with us and try to treat the situation with a sense of humor.

Have you ever been in a similar situation?  If so, how did you handle it?

About Teressa Morris

Teressa Morris is first, a wife and mom of two grown children (who can't seem to move out) and two furbabies. She writes about her family life, as well as causes that are dear to her heart, with recipes, reviews and giveaways on the side. Check her out at Window on the World.
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