Where Everybody Knows Your Pronouns

Someone holds a marshmallow stuck on the end of a wire over pile of flaming logs
Photo by Colby Stopa via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

T Cooper wrote about his experience at Camp Lost Boys, a retreat for transgender men, for Mother Jones magazine. Along with the hiking, campfires, water sports, and bonding came a new experience for some campers: the experience of being in a place where they didn’t have to make a point of specifying their pronouns.

The Colorado registration takes place in a log cabin where Rocco and Justin dispense bunk assignments, programs, backpacks, patches, and mugs emblazoned with the camp’s Park Service-­inspired logo. By the time a fifth camper lifts his Sharpie to ask whether we should put preferred gender pronouns on our nametags, Rocco looks set to explode: “No PGPs!” he yells, startling some new arrivals. “We are all men here!”

You can see the profound confusion in the eyes of the younger campers, who—unlike us older guys (many of whom transitioned more than a decade ago)—have marinated in a culture of inclusivity wherein every meeting or class begins with a roll call of names and pronouns so that everybody feels recognized. “To me, it’s not a courtesy to be asked your preferred gender pronoun,” Rocco continues, a bit more calmly now. He refers to the Lost Boys mission statement: “It’s been communicated explicitly that this camp is for self-defined men, even if being identified as a man can look different for everybody.”

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