How to determine you need an equity increase and how to argue for one at a US state university

Disclaimer:  We are not financial or legal professionals.  Consult with an actual professional who has your interests in mind and/or do your own research before making any important decisions.

If you work at a state university in the US, your salary information is public information.  For many state universities, the data are available online– you can just google the name of your school and “salary” and click on the links.  For schools where the information is not online, and even those for whom it is, you can also get salary information by asking the university librarians.

If you don’t know what the other people in your department are making compared to you, try googling and see what you find.

Note that not all of the places online report data the same way.  Some report 9 month salaries separate from summer money.  Some include summer money in the numbers you get.  If you get summer money you can look and see what they think your salary is, otherwise you may have to ask someone or just or just skip directly to the library.  Some online places report calendar year instead of fiscal year salaries which is annoying.  The university library should report the fiscal year salary and will separate out 9 month from additional earnings even if the online places don’t (and for some states, there are multiple places that report salaries and the different websites sometimes report them differently!).

Once you have an idea what your salary is compared to people in your department… are you underpaid?  How do you compare to people who have worse cvs than you do?  How do you compare to the people making more than you are?  Are you a research active full professor making less than an associate professor?  Comparisons where the other person has not gotten an outside offer are especially compelling, but you shouldn’t let outside offers stop you– if a person has a higher salary from an outside offer and they’re not as productive as you are, you can still make the argument that your salary should be higher.

Who you compare yourself to is important– in my case, there’s a guy who never had an outside offer who was hired the year after I was who has a less impressive cv, fewer citations, fewer papers, equal quality etc. etc. etc. and it was very easy to use him as a comparison.  (The argument being that his best papers hit during years with raises, and my best papers hit during years without raises.  Or maybe they’re sexist.)  But my friend in a sister department has used several comparisons, some with outside offers, some without.  That way she could say, yeah, this person had an outside offer but this person didn’t, this person was hired a different year, but this person wasn’t.  And it made it very clear that her salary was the one out of whack, not a single comparison person.

Then write up your justification for a salary increase using these comparisons.  Put in charts or tables to make it easy to parse and to make your argument obvious.  My friend and I included this with our annual progress reports, but there’s no need to wait until then if you just found out about the equity problem now for the first time.  Your department head or dean may need extra time to figure out how to get equity increases and to lobby on your behalf.

On the other hand, universities, particularly those who have been through NSF ADVANCE, may have a system in place specifically for equity bumps.  Our uni, for example, runs everybody’s statistics in each department (not publications or grant money or anything like that) and sends each department head a graph of a linear regression that makes it clear who the department outliers are.  The department head then can look at the underpaid outliers and decide if they are outliers because of low publications, for example, or if they want to request equity adjustments from the central university.  Department heads like this because they get money from the university, and there’s no system in place for lowering outliers from the other direction, so nobody gets upset at them.  The department head still has to write up a request though– if you write up that memo for them, it will make their life easier and they will be more likely to put forward the equity request.

I’ve also seen people who don’t have good comparisons at their own university (ex. people in interdisciplinary departments/fields) find comparisons at other schools of similar ranks to theirs (you may also want to include any schools your university considers to be “aspirational”).  Here again it’s important to determine if a salary listed is 9 month or 12 month, and you can either email the person in question or you can call up *their* university library– you don’t have to be at the university to have access to the internal salary data.

I’ve gotten 2 equity bumps in my time here, each about 10% (though I was still underpaid after, despite promises– it’s easy here for them to request a 10% bump but more difficult to request a larger one).  My friend just got an ~$50K/year equity bump and will no longer be underpaid.

University peeps at state schools:  Have you googled your salary info?  Are you underpaid compared to your colleagues?


  • A friend’s college on the east coast reinstated a mask mandate after a big spike in cases.  So far cases seem to be under 15 per 100K for our county.  The K-12 schools (the only place that counts at home tests in addition to official tests) has been seeing hardly any cases.  Our positivity rate has been steadily increasing on campus, but it is still under 9% (as opposed to the 25+% during Omicron’s peak).
  • It’s hard knowing what to do about Roe being killed.  And this is definitely not where they are going to stop– they want a nationwide abortion ban.  They want to remove several forms of birth control.  (Some state senators are even proposing bills to ban condoms!)  They want to get rid of gay marriage and put back anti-sodomy laws.  Some of them want to get rid of bi-racial marriage.  I can’t keep reading because it is just too much.
  • But it being too much doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stop fighting, just that maybe I have to limit my doom scrolling.  We have to get out and protest.  We have to get people to vote against forced-birth opponents.  Even democrats.  If they’re anti-choice, they have no business representing us.
  • Under the current laws in some states, once the overturning of Roe is official, my MIL would have died of an ectopic pregnancy leaving DH motherless and an only child instead of the oldest of three with a loving grandmother to our 2 children and our 6 niblings.
  • For my first miscarriage, I didn’t need a D&C, but that doesn’t guarantee that future miscarriages won’t require them.  So many horrible things can go wrong if a miscarriage goes awry.
  • If you live in a state where your state legislature is in session (or one where it is always in session), you are needed to pay attention to what bills are up.  Does your state have an indivisible legislative chapter?  Does your nearest city have a group (indivisible or otherwise) that is keeping track of what laws are in committee and need you to call your state reps?  If so, can you get signed up for their mailing list?  If not, you may have to keep track yourself, which seems like a lot of repeated effort.  But if we don’t stop the bad laws from getting passed, the supreme court is not going to have your back, no matter how unconstitutional they are.  And these things can affect you, especially if you are a woman or are any person who identifies as something other than your sex assigned at birth.  Or you’re not white or not evangelical or etc. etc. etc.
  • I hate all of this.  I want to focus on my work.  I want to focus on my family.  I want to read novels and watch videos of Taskmaster!  But we’re in an emergency time.  Rights are getting stripped away to a worse than pre-Roe state.  And I won’t want to give up all we’ve fought for on civil rights for minorities and LGBTQ+ people.  In a world where they are passing anti-abortion laws that don’t have any exceptions, including for rape, incest, and life of the mother (historically, the minimal exceptions) you can’t expect to keep even what rights we had in the 1960s.
  • On top of that, even privileged, connected, people may not be able to get abortions for themselves or their children.  We are being tracked via our phones.  Via facebook, instagram…  Surveillance companies are popping up.  Getting an abortion in the future may involve making sure your web searches are private and non-traceable.  That you leave your phone at home.  That you contact places only via burner phones.  This is a potential future should abortion be made illegal nation-wide, as the Republicans say they will do if they control both houses of congress in November’s election, if states have bounty-hunting laws like Texas does, rewarding people for turning in people who help women get abortions.  (If you can’t go to Oregon because of a nationwide ban, I suggest Amsterdam, though some cities in Mexico look surprisingly promising, surprising because this is a new thing for Mexico.  Back in the 60s, Japan was a destination, but it seems harder for foreigners to get safe and legal abortions there now.)
  • There’s not much time until November.  Believe it or not, a lot of people are not paying attention and don’t even know what is going on with abortion and what rights are under attack.  We need to make noise and get out the vote.  Historically, anti-abortion laws without exemptions have almost no support– just the most misogynist of dudes who don’t care if women live or die.  Most people who don’t approve of abortion generally think it’s ok in the cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother.  The idea that you can die from an ectopic pregnancy for legal reasons, as if we were living in some theocratic developing country, should mobilize people who know, if we’re organized enough, if we make enough noise.  Please help.
  • Lots of people are saying don’t use the coat-hangers imagery because women can get medical abortions.  But medical abortions don’t abort later term babies– the hangers (or earlier, crochet hooks) are really for later term pregnancies.  They are dangerous because they tend to puncture things that shouldn’t be punctured and cause bleeding and infection.  Women will die and saying it’s ok, you can just get a chemical abortion is not actually accurate.  Yes, let women know that they can get pills mailed to them, but also… these laws even affect women who miscarry or who have to carry dead fetuses to term or …
  • What can you do?
    • Seek out and go to protests— The bigger they are the more press there will be and the more politicians will listen even with Peter Thiel or whatever evil supervillains are paying for their campaigns.
    • Pay attention to what your state legislature has in committee and what they’re voting on and CALL your state representatives
    • Call your federal senators, especially if they are democrat, and demand they get rid of the filibuster to pass legislation that protects women
    • Write postcards and letters to voters (not about abortion, but to get the vote out)
    • Donate to abortion funds
    • If you are brave (and to be honest, I am not, but admire people who are), write letters to editors, educate people about stories of women who have needed abortions who would be harmed by the law.  Heck, get people to read the Judith Jarvis Thomson paper that explains how while we do not have the right to murder people, we do have the right to not have our bodies forced to be used as life support.  Until these men making the laws are forced, without their permission, to donate kidneys and livers and other important organs to people on the transplant list, or, as in the paper, be hooked up as human life support to a violinist for 9 months, they have no right to force us to do anything.
    • Educate yourself now, before it is illegal, about where to get Plan B (emergency contraception), where to get medical abortion pills, what your plan will be if you or someone you are helping needs to get an abortion if it is illegal in your state, and what to do if it is illegal in the US entirely
    • You don’t have to do all of these above, but please do something.  And if you can only do one, I would suggest protests.  But if you can’t do protests, call and write.

Sometimes I just get tired of trying to please people

Another unposted post from 2011, this one I’ve left unchanged– probably I could have filled in the yadda yadda part or explained more the “could be quiet” but I’m not sure what we meant about that, but otherwise I think it’s been good to go lo these 11 years.  It is still so true.:

You can’t please everyone.

Flaws, yadda yadda…

Could be quiet, people want to silence

But people who don’t bow to social convention tend to do pretty well for themselves.

Own the awesomeness.  Stick up for rights.  Don’t be a doormat.  Don’t accept mediocrity (unless mediocrity is justified).

Some people won’t be happy.  That’s their problem.

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A rant about always being the test case, about always being the competent one, about always having to double check

My friend is a department chair and head of a search committee in her department.  For their first job candidate, she checked the room she’d booked for the job talk and found that not only did it have no chairs, but the floor was wet.  Housekeeping said, sorry not sorry, but that’s your problem, not ours.

Luckily she discovered this several hours before the job talk and was able to scramble to get another room booked.  If she hadn’t checked with plenty of time upfront it would have been a disaster.  (Checking was not trivial since it’s in another building and it’s cold outside.)

I recently found out that I handle more articles than any of the other associate editors for one of the journals I’m an associate editor at.  The new EIC let that slip.  I honestly didn’t think that some of the famous people who are associate editors were doing a whole ton.  Anyhow, I also turned out to be the first person to make a decision on a paper with the new EIC in charge and he got very annoyed at *me* because whatever was set up on the editor-in-chief side wasn’t working for him!  He’s like, I got the email saying you sent something to me, but I cannot see it.  Where is it?!  And another email to me with, “You need to login to see for yourself,” including screen shots.  And I’m like, I don’t know what you’re supposed to see, but there’s nothing I can do about it (except I didn’t say that because I’ve been socialized as a female so instead I said it got archived on my side just like it always does and maybe he didn’t have the access he needed for the full EIC setup?)  So he emailed the company that takes care of that and was like, Nicole suggested that maybe I don’t have the full access I’m supposed to.  UGH.  If I weren’t so on top of things someone else would have had this interaction and it would have been a guy so the conversation would have gone differently.  But it’s not my fault he didn’t get a full tutorial before taking over!  And he’s been in transition for over a month!  Surely the outgoing editor could have assigned him something and walked him through it. [Also:  He did have full access, he just didn’t click on the obvious link, as I saw in the screencap instructions that the company then sent that I was cc’d on.]

At the end of last semester I still didn’t know what classes I would be teaching this semester because the chair hadn’t told me yet, so I checked the online courses and discovered that we had dead and retired people signed up to teach classes we no longer offer because something had gone wrong with the system and they’d posted a schedule from years ago.  I pointed this out to the department chair (succinctly and politely, I swear!).  No thanks, just irritation.

At the beginning of this semester I tried to get into my new classroom to see the set-up and where the camera was and if there were whiteboards and markers etc.  But I couldn’t get in because we no longer have keys and for some reason they cancelled all our card access, including the chair’s.  Sorry anybody with an 8am class, you would have been SOL unless you could find a maintenance person to let you in.  Chair mildly annoyed, especially when I hadn’t heard anything and asked about it again after classes started but before my first class (zie had put in a work order but hadn’t heard back yet, not sure what happened with 8am classes).

I also am generally the person to discover that the xerox machine is broken at the beginning of the semester.  I’m pretty good at fixing it, but sometimes there are things that need an actual technician.

We had a full day faculty retreat and I forced the department head to have a pre-meeting to make sure we could get everything on the agenda that zie wanted.  (Obviously we couldn’t) and to make sure that zie knew what hir priorities were for each item on the agenda.  And to make sure we HAD an agenda!!  And then during the meeting I kept things on track and pulled back to the agenda any time we started going in circles or strayed too far.  Nobody was happy about this, especially people who weren’t at the last full day faculty retreat where we accomplished nothing (but at least we weren’t indoors during a pandemic).  But we stuck to the agenda, got the answers the chair needed, and ended on time.

In multiple coauthorships I’m generally the annoying person calling for meetings or asking when they’ll have a chance to look at things.  I’m not very good at this because I stop at the tiniest sign of irritation because of too much experience with people yelling at me.  Much easier to just do stuff myself if I can.  :/

Even DC2 gets irritated at me for being the messenger when zie gets something wrong in a homework book.  It’s not my fault you did the area and not the perimeter!  Just fix it!  (We have told DC2 to stop being a jerk when someone points out a mistake.)

And yet, if I keep my mouth shut, things that I predict will go wrong go wrong.  It’s not like I’m better off not saying anything– I’m not.  If I could trust that someone else would notice or pick up the slack then I could just let things go.  I could not double check things.

I do make sure to praise my RAs any time they find a mistake or bring up something odd they’ve noticed.  Because it is valuable!  And it is really helpful to have someone keeping things on track.  I just wish it wasn’t generally me.

Do you work with competent people?  Are you always double-checking and glad you did so?  Do you feel appreciated?

Ask the grumpies: When to file a gender discrimination complaint?

Lisa asks:

…this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while and would love some crowdsourced insights:

When is it worthwhile to file a gender discrimination complaint? Things have been going on in my department and college that have opened the door to such a complaint, but I am hesitant because 1) I find it difficult to determine whether my current circumstances are the result of cumulative mini-discrimination events over the course of my career, the decisions I have made myself, or (most likely) a combination of the two, 2) it’s hard to define a desirable outcome from such a complaint, and 3) I am concerned about a complaint causing all sorts of acrimony that makes my life worse rather than better.

Wow, this is hard.  We don’t know.  This is a really terrible situation to be in.  Definitely document everything– write things down.  But what to do with what you’ve written down… that’s harder to know.

Grumpy Nation, what advice do you have for Lisa?


  • Nice Kitty is really into pointing out anything that changes to us.  Since DH has moved into her bedroom, she keeps dragging us in there to point out that there’s a new screen (she’s in favor of it) and the chair is different and the 3D printer has moved and so on.  These are useful skills!
  • DC2 is really into juvenile fantasy.  Today zie noted that boys who save the world tend to make stupid decisions a lot of the time, but girls who save the world tend to make more sensible choices.  I wonder if that’s a gendered trope or if it is more a time thing (since girls who save the world books tend to be more modern).
  • The kids are doing a lot of baking this summer even though DH is not.
  • Bananas have been getting ripe very quickly these days so the baking DH does has been mostly things to get rid of super ripe bananas.  Turns out you can just throw them into sourdough to slightly sweeten it, or use them with leftover applesauce for a cranberry nut bread with slight banana flavor.  I don’t want to say we were getting tired of regular banana bread, but DH certainly was.
  • We did have an amazing pizza from Williams Sonoma that used bananas.  It’s literally just pizza dough, then ricotta cheese, then sliced bananas.  If you eat ham you can put ham on top.  Then bake!  That’s it!  It’s surprisingly delicious.  Even if your bananas were super ripe.  (Also: if you haven’t made a pizza with blue cheese and walnuts yet and you like those items, you are missing out!)
  • DC1 doesn’t like the way that hir current C++ teacher won’t let them use things that they haven’t “learned” yet.  Zie says hir previous Java teacher would say, “I won’t be using this as an example because it uses a concept you guys don’t know yet, but we will be learning X in the future” but the C++ teacher is like, “Don’t do that.”  Zie would be fine if the “Don’t do that” was upfront when the problem is assigned, but it’s difficult when you have a large knowledge base and can’t quite remember what has been taught in this class.  I had this problem in Number Theory, but the thing about Number Theory is that you’re not allowed to use, say, multiplication until you’ve defined/invented it, so the limitations make more sense (it is frustrating but really gets you to appreciate how little kids can understand the concept of counting).  Not being able to use an array or a loop seems less sensible.
  • When I teach Stata I’m very much, “there are a million ways to do the same thing, use what works for you” and I’ll talk about the pros and cons of different ways of putting in fixed effects, for example.  My junior colleague who thinks I’m not very bright doesn’t like the way that I often will officially teach them the most idiot-proof way of doing something even though it’s not the most up-to-date.  She doesn’t know that’s why I do things that way though– just thinks I’m out of touch.  I also spend a lot of time getting them to figure out how to find out how to do things using Stata help and the internet.  I’ve gotten pushback from students on that in the past because they think I should stand in front of the class and just write code. (The other professor does that, whereas I have in-class exercises instead.)
  • I made the mistake of wondering what was going on with John and Sherry Petersik of Young House Love (I’m on December of their last year of podcasts so only half a year left before I have to decide what to listen to on my commute instead unless they start up again.)  The amount of people attacking Sherry on the internet for not putting more of her life out there but simultaneously putting too much of her life out there… it was sickening.  Nobody attacks John.  Nobody ever attacks the guy.  Lots of speculation about her personal life too– did she have an eating disorder, did she have an affair with their contractor (extremely unlikely given she spends 24/7 with John so he’d have to be incredibly oblivious), does she have a mental illness, etc. etc. etc.  And how her son not having a closet in his bedroom is somehow child abuse (it’s not!).  I had forgotten how vicious the internet can be to women who try to make money from it.  Anyhow, my bottom line is that John and Sherry seem like nice people and their personal life that they haven’t shared is none of our business even if they’ve shared personal life things in the past.  And if you don’t like the ads on instagram stories there’s a simple solution for that– don’t go to instagram stories!  (Easy for me to say since not giving facebook my personal information means I can’t even see instagram stories.)  And OMG, mommy forums are cesspools!  Like, literally worse than GOMI (which also has a page).
  • I recently deleted a comment criticizing us for not putting more personal information out there.  I think there’s this belief that if a woman isn’t wearing a burka inside women’s quarters– if she ever ventures out, then somehow she’s completely available for public consumption.  Men, of course, get allowed privacy no matter what they put out there.  Nobody even polices their facial expressions.  And in reality, the women trapped inside aren’t safe either (obviously) because it really isn’t about what you wear or where you go.  It’s 100% about policing and keeping women down.  Stupid patriarchy.
  • Someone at the library has very similar book tastes to mine and extremely heavy perfume.  I had to let the new Farah Heron, Accidentally Engaged, air out on the air filter for about a week (with me fanning out the pages whenever I walked past) before I could read it without my nose dripping.  (Literally dripping.)

Sick of the phrase: “It is what it is”

Everyone keeps saying it, even when it doesn’t have to be.

I am a big fan of the serenity prayer, especially the version I learned that puts having the courage to change things that I can first.

God grant me the courage to change things that I can

The serenity to accept things I cannot

And the wisdom to know the difference

I think this was cross-stitched on a sampler at the house of one of my baby-sitters when I was a kid.

“It is what it is” keeps being used not for that second line, but to excuse not having the courage for the first.  And I hate it.  We can fight for injustice.  We can fight for equality.  We can keep calling our representatives and not just give up on them.  We are at a turning point in US history– we can get rid of the filibuster, grab DC state-hood, pass HR1 as new voting rights legislation, protect trans kids, pack the supreme court.  After 12 years of unconscionable changes by Republicans doing things never dreamed of in previous administrations in our memory– Merrick Garland, Kavanaugh, Coney Barrett, refusing to bring any legislature to a vote, removing the VRA, not doing anything on gun control after Sandy Hook, etc. etc. etc.– we can also do the unthinkable.

It doesn’t have to be.

But it will be if we don’t fight for it.  If we give up prematurely.

If we don’t have the wisdom to know the difference.


Here’s a link to 5calls.  Demand Statehood for Washington DC.  Support Democracy Reform with H.R. 1.  Protect Dreamers.  And so much more.  But none of this will happen if we give up.  Because the bad guys aren’t giving up.

Ask the grumpies: gender and power

Rose asks:

What are the current trends with gender and race on corporate boards and what is having impact? What are current  trends of who is attending and graduating from college and salaries by gender and race? What about graduate school. Please include % of foreign students involved. Same question about med schools today versus 25 and 50 years ago. Are more/any med schools opening today? Same about Vet Schools.

Diversity improves board performance.  Here’s Catalyst with information on gender trends. Here’s the washington post.  They’re doing less well with minority groups.

Here are college enrollment rates by race and gender.  Here are college graduation rates from the same site, though they’re from 2017 which seems a bit outdated.

Here is information on graduate school enrollment.  It also includes information on international students.

This is the breakdown for medical schools graduates for 2019, and here is enrollment for 2018.  Here’s a report on gender.  Here’s an article that compares 1980 to 2016.

Yes, there have been new medical schools in the US.  There are fewer new veterinary schools, but there have been some.


Ask the grumpies: Should I report a racist comment?

K asks:

My job is full of awful people but today I very clearly heard my director making a racist comment about one of his employees. I still cannot believe it was said and it clearly is an inside joke with the two managers he was on a zoom meeting with(he was virtual, they were in an office a couple doors down from me). And they clearly did not know I was in the office based on their attitudes when later on they encountered me.

I have always had a target on my back in this office for being smart and asking good questions.

If I complain they will know who reported. I cannot live with myself if I don’t do something about what I heard.

What was “weird “ too was this same “joke” was made years ago by someone in the small town I grew up in, I was out with my daughter one night who was maybe 4 at the time and a dude thought it was funny or some shit to say this same thing about another black child in the area, who was also out that night.
F*cking sucks.

Racists suck.

I appreciate the conversations here. Not because I am looking for people who necessarily think exactly like me but because the community is intelligent, thoughtful and REAL things are talked about…..all sorts of things.

That sounds terrible and it’s a terrible position to be in.

You will have to decide whether to report or not.  The trade-offs are probably pretty clear to you– they’ll potentially make your work-life worse if you report, but morally you feel that you need to report it.  You know your calculus about how much you need this job and what your options are if you need to walk away because you can’t take it anymore.  You’re not in an at-will state and you’re likely high skill, so it may be difficult for them to just fire you, but there may be a non-zero probability.  We can’t give advice about whether to report, only you can decide.

In either case, you should be looking for work at a different company if you can’t trust upper management to take care of racist managers if brought to their attention. Similarly for being punished for being smart and asking good questions.

Racist managers make employees less productive.  Hopefully you will find a place that doesn’t have a culture of racism.

Good luck!

Grumpy Nation, what thoughts and advice do you have for K?

Why I don’t want to list my pronouns

I’ve been thinking a lot the last couple of years about gender and sexuality.  I’ve been learning a lot more about other people and about myself too.

I’ve mentioned before that I only recently learned that demi-sexual is a thing, and is in fact, a thing that explains so much of my life (and why I will never ever be able to do modern-style dating if something terrible happens to DH).

I have *always* thought that gender was just a construct and an unfair one at that.  I have never understood the actual concept of people being male or people being female.  Male and female to me was always something that society assigned and assigned roles for based on my chromosomes and physical characteristics at birth.  I’ve never cared about my clothing being masculine or feminine, just that it be comfortable and appropriate for whatever venue I have to be in (I LOVED grunge in the 1990s, and my pandemic wardrobe is DH’s old t-shirts with workout shorts/pants). I have always figured I was female because it is much easier to be female than it is to be a trans man.  If DH was ok with it and I had a magic wand, I would totally switch sexes and reap the benefit of all that male privilege.

At some point, I realized that other people do identify as male or female and not because society has tricked them, because trans women exist.  In order to give up that male privilege, they must really truly identify with being female.  Thus it makes sense that some people truly identify with being male, even if their chromosomes are XX.  And there are likely XX-types who feel they must be women and XY-types who feel they must be men.  This is just one of those things that I don’t understand, much like the way my demi-sexuality makes it so I don’t understand instant sexual attraction.  But just because I don’t understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  People are different and that’s ok.

After a lot of thought, I have decided of the types of genders listed out there, I am probably non-binary.  But I’m also the kind of non-binary that doesn’t have gender dysphoria (so I can’t even answer many of those “am I non-binary” online quiz questions). That is because I don’t understand the concept of gender at all (except as a construct of how society views me). I don’t care if people gender me male or female or non-binary or what have you.  People who are non-binary who really identify with not being male or female might have negative effects being mis-gendered as something they’re not.  Me, I don’t care.  It’s not that I need to come out because I’m fine with how other people gender me (other than the whole misogyny thing) because my view of gender is exactly that– how other people gender me.

Lots of people have started listing their preferred pronouns on their zoom profiles and email signatures.  The idea is that if CIS-gendered people (that’s people whose gender identity matches their chromosomes/sex characteristics) start doing this, it will seem more normal for trans and non-binary people.

The one part of my gender identity that seems real is that I do not want to label myself. I do not want to bring attention to my gender.  I don’t want to list she/her because I resent being treated in the way that women are treated.  I don’t want to put down he/him because people look at me and see a woman and that would cause cognitive dissonance and problems I don’t want to deal with, even though I would prefer to be treated as if I were male.  (I wish we were *all* treated like white men on the lowest difficulty setting and given the benefit of the doubt etc.)  I don’t want to put they/them because it doesn’t bother me to be referred to as she or he and I know it’s hard for people to get used to the they/them construct and I don’t want to be the person they practice on.  (Maybe that’s selfish?  But I don’t think I have to always sacrifice myself.  I’m already gendered as a woman by society.)  I don’t want to draw attention to myself or to have to explain this whole, “I don’t understand gender” thing.  Someone would likely try to explain it to me(!)

On a recent anonymous survey, we were given multiple choices for gender and I happily picked female and non-binary.  When I only get to pick one of male/female/other, I assume they mean “how do others view you” so I pick female.  I think this is different from the pronoun listing because with the pronoun listing it really feels like I am saying, “this is what I *prefer*” and it isn’t.  I would prefer people treat me (and everyone else) like a dude.  I would prefer there not be genders at all!  (But I understand that some people prefer gender, so as long as it isn’t hurting others, do what you will.)

If I were forced to do the pronoun thing, I would write: (whatever/whatever).  But I know that seems flip and not helpful for people who want to make their genders clear because it is part of their internal identity.  So I’m glad we’re not forced.  (Briefly considers an email sig with “pronouns:  it’s all good,” rejects it.)

And I think this is ok.  I’m not making fun of listing the pronouns.  I understand why they’re important, and I think it is great that CIS people are adding them to their profiles.  But I do not want to do it myself.  Not because I think they’re bad or wrong but because I really do not want to label myself with a gender.  I hope this absence doesn’t harm anyone or make me less of an ally, but there’s so little that I care about when it comes to gender that the fact that I do care about this one thing… well, I think I should listen to myself, especially since I’ve determined it isn’t coming from a place of internalized bigotry.  I don’t want to lie and say I prefer she/her when I in fact do not prefer it.  It turns out that I really do care that I don’t care.

Also, I love the comic strip, egscomics even though the beginning is immature and the storylines take years.  I think it’s neat how the author has played with gender identity and how different cast members have different levels of it.  Now I have the Ranma 1/2 season 1 theme stuck in my head.

Have you put pronouns on your stuff?  Why or why not?