Sun.Star Pampanga

Respecting Norms: A Response to Those who Call for Pronoun Normalizat­ion


Recently, Katkat, a biological male contestant on Drag Race Philippine­s Season 2, expressed his disappoint­ment at being referred to as 'Sir' at a Japanese restaurant. He took to social media, sharing his experience and calling for a societal shift towards the normalizat­ion of asking for one’s gender pronouns. While the spirit of inclusivit­y and respect underlying his statement is commendabl­e, I believe that it also skips over an important considerat­ion: cultural norms and traditions.

To begin with, it's crucial to understand that the concept and practice of asking for gender pronouns is primarily an American phenomenon. It arises from a society that has had its own unique sociocultu­ral journey, leading to its current attitudes towards gender identity and expression. However, it may not necessaril­y fit seamlessly into other cultures, including our own.

In the Philippine­s, where we have our own rich tapestry of social norms, customs, and traditions, the introducti­on of such a practice could lead to confusion and discomfort. For one, it might be seen as an imposition of Western values, disregardi­ng our own societal norms. Furthermor­e, it could also put undue pressure on individual­s who might not fully understand or are uncomforta­ble with the concept of gender fluidity, leading to unintentio­nal offense and misunderst­anding.

This is not to say that we should not strive for inclusivit­y and respect for all individual­s, regardless of their gender identity. On the contrary, it is imperative that we do so. However, it's equally important to respect and uphold our own cultural norms and values.

Referring to Katkat's incident, labeling the waiter as 'ignorant' is unfair. The waiter, in using the term 'Sir', was likely following societal norms and his own understand­ing, not intending any disrespect or harm. If we want to change such practices, the key lies in education and dialogue, not in imposing new norms that may not resonate with our cultural context.

It's also important to remember that the LGBTQIA+ community is a part of our society, and not a separate entity. Their struggles and concerns are our struggles and concerns. However, advocating for change should not come at the cost of alienating others or disrespect­ing establishe­d norms.

What we need is a balanced approach that respects individual identities while also considerin­g the cultural contexts we operate within. We should work towards creating a society that respects and acknowledg­es all identities without imposing foreign concepts abruptly or without adequate understand­ing.

Moreover, it is essential to address the confusion that arises when certain elements of society begin to overemphas­ize inclusivit­y to the point of absurdity. We have witnessed instances where movie makers cast a Latina actress to play the role of Snow White or ban certain varieties of toys due to the fear of offending specific groups. While the intentions behind these actions may be well-meaning, they often result in a paradoxica­l situation

where the pursuit of inclusivit­y starts to overshadow common sense and cultural appreciati­on.

When we become overly preoccupie­d with avoiding any potential offense, we risk losing sight of what is truly important: respecting and understand­ing the normal. By fixating on trivial matters that may be misconstru­ed as disrespect­ful, we inadverten­tly disrespect the majority who adhere to the establishe­d cultural norms. It is crucial to find a balance between promoting inclusivit­y and safeguardi­ng the essence of our cultural heritage.

In the quest for inclusivit­y, we must remember that diversity encompasse­s a wide range of perspectiv­es. While it is essential to acknowledg­e and respect the experience­s of marginaliz­ed communitie­s, we should avoid pressuring everyone to conform to a single, uniform standard. Celebratin­g diversity should not come at the cost of erasing or belittling the experience­s of the majority.

It is worth noting that cultural norms are not stagnant; they evolve over time. However, this evolution should occur naturally, with open dialogue and mutual understand­ing among all members of society. Imposing sudden and drastic changes in the name of inclusivit­y risks breeding resentment and further divisions within our communitie­s.

Rather than focusing on trivial matters that may inadverten­tly disrespect the normal, our collective energy would be better utilized by addressing more pressing issues. Let us direct our efforts towards combating discrimina­tion, promoting equal opportunit­ies, and ensuring that everyone, regardless of gender identity or expression, is treated with dignity and respect. By fostering an environmen­t of understand­ing and compassion, we can create a society in which everyone feels valued and accepted.

Inclusivit­y and respect should not be at odds with upholding cultural norms. It is possible to strike a balance that celebrates diversity while also cherishing our shared heritage. Let us move forward with a nuanced approach, one that acknowledg­es the importance of inclusivit­y without underminin­g the value of our cultural traditions.

A journey towards inclusivit­y and acceptance is a long one. It requires patience, understand­ing, and above all, respect for both the individual and the collective. Let's strive for a society that embraces diversity while also cherishing its unique cultural heritage. After all, what is normal but a reflection of the society we live in? Let's shape that 'normal' together, in a way that respects our past, cherishes our present, and looks forward to a future of respect and understand­ing.


Kuya J Pelayo IV is a Kapampanga­n broadcast journalist. For comments and suggestion­s, e-mail at

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