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How do I talk about someone when I don't know who they're out to?

Updated: Mar 13

Question: My friend came out to me and told me what pronouns to use for them in future, but I don't know if they're out to other people we know. How can I make sure I talk about them respectfully without outing them?

S: This is going to be my answer to a whole lot of questions: Ask them!

K: Agreed, the best way to handle this is to ask some follow up questions to your friend. Specifically, you can ask them if there are any people or contexts they'd like you to continue to use the old pronouns around (because they aren't out to those people or in those situations, such as at work, around their roommate, or around family), or if you can use their current pronouns in all scenarios and with all people.

This wasn't part of your question, but I think it is also helpful to ask how to handle other people misgendering them by using their old pronouns. For example, would it be helpful to correct people when they misgender your friend while they are present so that your friend doesn't have to, or would they prefer to handle it? Lastly, if they haven't already told you, I'd check in about other gendered language moving forward. There are the more obvious things like if someone refers to them as being a man or woman, but also things like dude, bro, man (as in something like "man, I don't know"), etc. that some people feel they are using in a gender neutral way, but that do have gendered connotations. You could also ask about other adjectives, like pretty, handsome, cute, etc. that could be applied to them or things like their outfits or accessories.

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