Pronouns: Why They Matter

In this post, some of the sexualities I mention may be yours or they might not. Some of the pronouns I use may be yours or they might not. You might not relate with some of the terms I use, such as ‘gay’ and might prefer ‘queer’. I ask that you read this with an open mind, and replace where necessary. I do not mean to be exclusionary.


For the most part of yesterday and today, some part of Kenyans on Twitter have been engaging in a verbal war, over what to some people might seem like a trivial issue. As is often the case, the ‘war’ presented an opportunity for all sorts to crawl from the woodwork, notably homophobes and TERFs.

So what is the fuss all about?

Popular YouTuber, Shiko of Green Calabash, a family & lifestyle channel, in a recent video shared what she calls, a raw and honest “mummy moment”. The summary of it is, she was sharing the story of Coy, a transgender girl, but repeatedly referred to her as ‘him’.

Even in the comments, some people pointed out that she had misgendered Coy. On Twitter, the same was reiterated. Since, words have flown and people fall under three distinct groups. The rightfully angry queer community, the hets defending Green Calabash and the allies that are on the side of the community. A lot of hate is present on the timeline and the block button finds itself being employed at an increasing rate. I brought up the Toni Morrison quote yesterday and I said that as a community, there will always be something new that we need to prove. A lot of people on the timeline have argued that instead of being angry the queers should explain what was done wrong. We shouldn’t have to. It is 2018, the Internet is present and we honestly have no excuse for ignorance. A lesson on pronouns is simply a click away. As someone said, Shiko, by owning a YouTube Channel has the onus of being a voice placed on her. Aside from misgendering, she said a lot of things that stemmed from ignorance. She was aware before she did the video that she would be sharing that story with her audience. She said herself that it happened about 2 days prior, so she had plenty of time to do her research.

But here we are.


What cisgender people do not understand is the continuous struggle that comes with being anything other than what people consider to be ‘normal’. The ostracization by society notwithstanding, there is the internal struggle and turmoil. The sleepless nights, and often anxiety and depression.

A pronoun seems like a little thing. Just two or three letters really. But when that pronoun is the only thing that marks your identity and the only space you have found within the world to occupy, when it is disregarded, you feel disrespected, dysphoric and unsafe. That little word, that pronoun is a validation of someone’s identity. Respecting someone means respecting their pronouns. Misgendering amounts to violence and hate.

We don’t always get people’s pronouns right. But respecting them means asking what their pronouns are, apologizing and correcting any mistakes that were made.

It is not the responsibility of the queer community to teach you how to navigate our spaces. There are so many resources available that you could learn from. If you are not willing to learn about us, then it may be best that you avoid talking about us altogether.

We are fighting so many battles while still trying to live our lives, if you aren’t for us, kindly step aside and allow us to be.

It’s not just a pronoun it is someone’s whole identity. Respect it.

Being online right now can be both trying and testing. Let’s take care of ourselves and our spirits. Don’t hesitate to mute or block anyone that tries to bring hate to your timeline. In spite of their best efforts, we will live and we will love and we will be free.

Our anger is justified.

P.S: Have you seen that Janelle and Tessa Clip? The gay in me can’t handle it.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Savannah says:

    I don’t know why someone would intentionally misgender a trans person. Do they realize people commit suicide over these issues?


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