Note For Anyone Writing About Me

Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Zisk, Alyssa Hillary. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Zisk, A. H. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Don't change other people's pronouns!

I've been sitting on this for a while, waiting until the point where I'm ready to write about this. The tip  applies to more than just editors, and it's more than just editors who've changed my pronouns on me. I don't mean that I've told them my pronouns, and then they've written something about me using incorrect pronouns. That's a problem, and as another tip, don't do that either. I mean I've been asked to write an introduction or bio for myself, I've done so, I've sent the text in, and then the final posted text has been edited specifically to change my pronouns.

Maybe they think I accidentally typed the "wrong" pronouns for myself, with the "wrong" conjugation, throughout? I assure you, I am intentional enough about my word choices to avoid making this error consistently for the whole paragraph. I make typos, and sometimes words will be entirely missing, but I don't accidentally misgender myself in text. Discomfort with doing so is how I figured out that 1) I am nonbinary, and 2) my pronouns are they/them/theirs. (Sie/sier/siers is also acceptable in text, but sounds too much like "she" for my comfort when spoken.)

Maybe they think my pronouns are grammatically incorrect? Whenever someone tells me an introduction or bio I wrote for myself, or really, anything I wrote about myself in the third person, has grammatical issues, my first question is if they mean my pronouns. Never mind that singular "they" is older than they are, it's a common statement. I've heard it from people who don't know my pronouns ... and people who do. (Once, a professor pointed out a grammatical issue that had nothing to do with my pronouns or their conjugation. I fixed it, and I thanked him. He didn't say a word about my pronouns.)

Maybe they don't personally have an issue, but think my pronouns will confuse readers. I've been asked before if the plural might confuse a reader. Here's the thing: you can add a note about my pronouns! I've had people do this. It's OK. You can write Alyssa (they/them/theirs) in a text when you talk about me so readers explicitly know "they" is being used as a singular pronoun to refer to me. You can say "Alyssa uses they/them pronouns" in a footnote after my name. You can do both! I'd love it if this weren't needed. However, it's common for people to read text that just uses my pronouns without a note and then use the wrong pronouns to describe me. This note may both reduce any real confusion (as opposed to transphobia masquerading as confusion) and serve as a reminder for people who don't just don't really notice singular they pronouns in text.

Because here's the thing: When you edit text to change my pronouns, it is misgendering. The excuses people make don't hold up. Singular "they" is grammatically fine. Singular "you" is actually newer than singular "they." (Singular "you" and singular "they" get the same verb/adjective treatments because they have similar histories in terms of starting off plural and becoming singular at a later date. It's just that both these dates are long past.) Expressive difficulties are real, but they don't apply here because you didn't need to edit my already existing text.  Direct explanations are the way to avoid confusion without lying. Changing other people's pronouns is misgendering. Don't do it. This is a case where the no-effort option of not making changes is the correct option.

(If, after reading this, you're wondering if I'm talking about you: only if you've actually done this, and there's enough of you that I neither want nor need to single anyone out. I just want people to be aware of this as a thing to not do.)