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I got asked to explain the pronouns thing in DM, and I'm having my best go of it. I think it'll make a good, instructive (probably long) thread that will help people understand the Theory and might get me permanently banned from Twitter (because it's true). Here we go...
The first thing is that it's about "acceptance" and "inclusion." As it stands, trans and gender nonconforming (GNC) people don't go by the pronouns they were born with. Everyone else does. So if EVERYBODY declares their pronouns, it makes it not weird to declare pronouns.
In short, if trans/GNC people have to declare their pronouns, but no one else does, that marks them as "different," which under a Derridean understanding of power dynamics in language automatically implies "worse." (Butler tied in Foucault here too.) This is postmodernism. So...
So, if EVERYONE declares their pronouns all the time, then trans/GNC people aren't forced to mark themselves as different (read: abnormal, read: less good) people. That's more or less the primary thing behind the push to make everyone declare their pronouns all the time.
Does this make anyone feel particularly comfortable? No, it doesn't, but it makes everyone the same uncomfortable, which is better than only some people being put on the spot and made uncomfortable this way. That's not the point. The point isn't achieving good; it's "justice."
Achieving a net-negative outcome for everyone is, to the Theorists and activists pushing the pronoun thing, preferable to some (certain) people having an "unjust" experience. That's really important. Most people being worse off is better than a few people having a tough break.
Then, there's that it's a validating thing. If EVERYONE uses announcements of pronouns, then announcing one's pronouns is validated as a normal thing to do, something we all do, so it's not weird that some people like GNC people feel like they have to do it while others don't.
Everyone having to announce pronouns all the time "validates" the trans/GNC experience around pronoun use, which is otherwise "invalidated" by "cisnormative assumptions." And that "invalidation" is why they say that cisnormativity "literally" denies their humanity.
The theory says that dominant groups exercise power/privilege and marginalize/oppress other groups by mere virtue of that power/privilege (which is rooted naturally in their dominance). This thus confers a responsibility on the dominant group to take pains to undo those problems.
Asking a minoritized group to shoulder their burden has lots of names depending on the circumstances, including exploitation and responsibilization. (You're not allowed to ask or tell a minoritized group to take responsibility for their own problems, as that's Theoretically BAD.)
Here's the kicker. Getting everyone to announce their pronouns all the time won't solve the problem. It won't be good enough because once it's achieved, everyone will realize that most people are still cis (if that's even a word), and *that* will become the problem.
The fact that most people use cis pronouns will be a way that cis people "dominate" because it's most common, and it will be inappropriate for cis people to announce pronouns while also being required that they do so. So traditional pronouns will become the next object of attack.
In Theory, the thing that is "problematic" is anything that can be construed to offend, "dominate," "oppress," or "marginalize," so the fact that most people get to use cis pronouns will become problematic, and them doing so will be billed as performative and false.
Pro-tip: ANYTHING can be construed to offend, "dominate," "oppress," or "marginalize," so if the goal is to find offense or claim some kind of oppression, it's just a matter of crafting the right kind of complaint, no matter how tendentious or forced. Theory will allow it.
In fact, if other objects in Theory are any guide (e.g., allyship, especially), cis pronoun use will be both required and problematic (performative, positioning oneself well, etc.) long before it would be universal. Cis people will not be allowed to do it right. That's Theory!
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