October 20, 2020
Did you know that October 21 is International Pronouns Day? Many people may not think much about pronouns, but this is an opportunity to increase awareness about how important it is to use the pronouns people determine are correct for them. This is especially important for people who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming. You can use this day—and, ideally, everyday—to acknowledge and learn about pronouns!
People are not always conscious of others’ pronouns. But it’s important to honor the pronouns someone identifies with. What if you were assigned male at birth but identify as a girl or woman? Or maybe you were assigned female at birth but you identify as a guy? Someone may make an incorrect assumption about your pronouns based on physical appearance.
Or, what if you identify outside of the binary of girl/woman or boy/man altogether when it comes to gender? For example, some people use nonbinary pronouns like ze/hir or they/them. People often depend on that gender binary to make a judgment about someone else. But it’s important to recognize that gender identity is more fluid than just masculine or feminine. Check out this Gender Identity & Expression Map.
You Can Ask
Unfortunately, some people refuse to switch to a more inclusive system due to discrimination or a lack of understanding. But honoring someone’s pronouns shows respect.
What helps is asking for someone’s pronouns. Rather than asking someone what their gender is, ask what pronouns you should use to refer to them. By asking, we acknowledge how we will honor their gender identity.
What You Can Do to Share Your Pronouns
- Add your pronouns to your digital and social media bios.
- Include your pronouns in your email signature.
- Share your pronouns when introducing yourself to new people. This makes space for everyone to share their pronouns, if they feel comfortable.
- Use name tags with pronouns.
- Speak up if someone misgenders you.
Tips for Honoring Others’ Pronouns
- If there is no opportunity to ask someone, use gender neutral pronouns such as “they/them” until you know for sure. However, try to find a time as soon as possible to get clarification on what someone’s pronouns are.
- If you get it wrong, don’t feel terrible. Just allow yourself to be corrected (or correct yourself), apologize for your error and move on in the conversation.
- Make sure you get clarity about which pronouns to use in specific spaces. Some people prefer to use the pronouns they were assigned at birth in certain situations to avoid conflict with family members. Unfortunately, it may not be safe for them to be out when it comes to their gender identity.
No matter where you are in your own pronoun journey, be part of a supportive community by making others feel welcome. Whether it’s by sharing your pronouns on social media or starting a conversation by asking for someone’s pronouns, you can work to support diverse identities and make spaces comfortable for others.
Have a great International Pronouns Day and check out this resource for more info!