Last year I started wearing a very pretty pin on my con lanyards. It said “He/Him” and I wish I could remember the artist who did it, because it is pretty. I saw, I think it was a Google conference, where they offered stickers with your pronouns for attendees to put on their badges. Also cool.
But for me I felt this needed to be bigger, in a literal sense. I mean I love my pin, and stickers are cool – but they are small. And in a con environment when you’re meeting people and remembering them, you also want to know their pronouns so you can be a decent person. Making that easy to see, so you don’t have to lean in and look at all the pins and buttons and stickers on a badge or lanyard to find information would be nice.
You can always, of course, just ask. Obviously. But even so.
So I thought, what if the lanyard itself had pronouns printed on it? Yeah, we have the technology (the image is of the He/Him lanyard cause I got those in first, but I will have He/Him, She/Her, and They/Them – with hopes to add other pronouns in the future):
This opened up a can of small worms for me though. I wanted to do them as simple as possible. I wanted them plain and easy and cheap enough that I wouldn’t ever have to charge anyone. I was happy to pay for my pin, it was pretty! But there needs to be a default, basic, no barrier to entry concept. Because if you tell someone they have to pay to have their pronouns seen, then you will have people who want that feature, who deserve it, who can’t.
Even at a dollar – cons are expensive, and why should you pay for a way to state your pronouns, when society already makes it not a default thing people seem to think about?
But then, I can’t afford to make millions of these. Well, all right. I have no problem, if they are well received, raising money for printing costs from other people. That way, if you can chip in you do. But the lanyards themselves, when you come get one, are still free to people.
And then there’s the other problem. I do only a few PNW shows right now. So if you want one and aren’t at a show I’m at how would you get one? Suddenly I have an issue. I haven’t solved it yet. I don’t know how to ship things to people and not charge them for the item, the shipping, the packaging, etc.
Frankly, I also don’t think I want to take on that level of project right now. Not unless it paid me, and then we’re back at the free issue. So I am sort of stuck. I mean if I were making FANCY lanyards I could understand charging, but I want to provide the no-frills, default option for the world.
BUT HERE IS THE SECRET: I don’t give a damn about credit. I don’t care about anyone knowing it was me who did this. I want CONS to do this by default! But even so: You can do this too! You can do it and bring it to cons and give them out for free just as easily as I can!
And that’s my challenge to you all. If you like this idea – STEAL IT. MAKE IT YOURS. Make lanyards with pronouns and give them away FOR FREE. If I see people making no-frills really basic ones like these and charging for them I will happily jump in and point out I can give them away. Do fancy ones you charge for, sure. But make basic simple ones and give them away.
If a bunch of us did this, people would have options, people who wear them constantly, we could change the status quo on this. If we did it. Together.
And until then, I’ll do it the best I can, myself, and spend my own money, and raise some as well, and push and push. But you can help. And you should, if this interests you. I’ll happily give anyone who asks (send me email! Use the contact form!) the site, the specs I use, and everything.
I want to hear, by ECCC when I bring a ton “Oh, you do these too? I got mine from X at show Y!” I want this to be a community effort.
Until it is I will continue to do this and find ways to make it work. And never charge anyone for the basic respect of being able to state their pronouns.