The counselors at the school where I work have been making a strong campaign to expand gender awareness and acceptance among students and staff. Part of their campaign involved making buttons for all the staff stating our preferred pronouns. It got me thinking long and hard about my use of personal pronouns and how they function as markers of identity. I realized that the traditional options didn’t do enough. If the button was going to be a symbol of my supporting people with complicated identities, it would be best if I were open about my own identity. I figured out a way that I felt good about. Here’s my button and the email I wrote to my colleagues about it:
“Hi everyone. I’ve had a couple questions about the Âû on my pronoun button. Which is fantastic! This is exactly why I asked K—— if I could have it on mine. Âû is an autism positive identity marker. It is pronounced “Ay-you”. Many autistics use Âû as an identity marking suffix after their name.
I was diagnosed as an adult and, for years was pretty afraid of revealing this part of my identity. I wanted to have it on my button in solidarity with anyone who’s identity is more complicated than the basic cisgender pronouns. There quite a lot of autistic folks who are also trans or non-binary, or just feel like gender is super confusing all together and don’t really feel like they fit any of the traditional categories. I’m kind of in that third category.
While I haven’t heard of Âû being used as a pronoun yet, it might catch on as a thing. I don’t feel like I need to replace the pronouns everyone is used to using with me. Mostly the Âû is an extra, non-binary identity marker intended to let kids and grown-ups know I’m an ally for all kinds of diversity, including gender and neurodiversity.
Thank you for being curious and accepting.