What Are Pronouns?
Pronouns are used to refer to individuals, taking the place of their name in writing or conversation. Everyone has pronouns, and they’re what we use to refer to people in the third person. Pronouns often imply gender, such as she/hers or he/his. This implication may be based on appearance, name, or other assumptions we’ve grown accustomed to using. Everyone has pronouns, whether they use the pronouns associated with their gender presentation or have chosen pronouns that fit their preferences. Some people may use more than one set of pronouns. Anyone can use any pronouns that feel comfortable for them.
Why Are Pronouns Important?
Gender identities and expressions are unique to individuals. People may identify as female, nonbinary, male, gender-nonconforming, genderfluid, and other gender-expansive identities. Using a person’s correct pronouns is a way to show respect. Just as you want to use a person’s correct name and how it is pronounced, pronouns should be correct. Using incorrect pronouns can be invalidating, disrespectful, and harmful. Using the wrong pronouns — intentionally or unintentionally—sends the message that individuals are invalid, or are not worthy of respect.
Intentionally using a person’s chosen pronouns affirms identity, shows respect, and acknowledges that they are accepted for who they are. Use of proper pronouns promotes feelings of belonging. This is important in every space—schools, workplaces, and at home. This creates an inclusive environment, where people are free to express themselves without fear of rejection, dismissal, and oppression.
How Can I Respect Gender Pronouns?
There are many ways to show respect and reduce harm. Here are some examples:
- Offer your pronouns when introducing yourself.
- Add your pronouns to email signatures, nametags, social media, etc.
- Use neutral or inclusive statements when referring to a group, such as “folks” or “colleagues”; or when referring to individuals, such as “that individual” or “this person”.
- Respect those who choose not to share their pronouns for personal reasons.
- Apologize and correct yourself after misgendering someone.
- A person’s pronouns may change over time—if you are ever unsure, just ask!
Overall, using correct pronouns promotes inclusion and affirms individual identities. There are many resources available for more information. For information on how to use personal pronouns, follow this link: https://pronouns.org/how.