Normalizing pronouns, not just in the workplace, but in everyday life, is vital. Including pronouns in conversations shows their importance, and that they are not something to ignore. In environments like workplaces or classrooms, sharing pronouns helps transgender, non-binary, or gender non-conforming individuals feel welcomed, accepted, and not feel isolated when they share theirs. This is a substantial way of minimizing harm against the LGBTQIA2S+ community.
“We can never tell, by looking at someone, what their gender identity is,” Nicole McCarter, the assistant at the LGBT center at Central Connecticut State University, said. “We all have pronouns, not only people who are trans.” As McCarter said, it is important to start those conversations and get rid of any the awkwardness.
Ask everyone their pronouns, not just the person you think might be trans. Make asking pronouns as natural as asking what someone’s name is when you meet them. Steven Huang, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Culture Amp says, “For most, their singular and visible gender identity is a privilege. Not everybody has this privilege; those that are referred to with the wrong pronoun can feel disrespected, invalidated, and alienated.”
What is a pronoun?
“A pronoun is a word that refers to either the people talking (I or you) or someone or something that is being talked about (she, it, them, and this). Gender pronouns (she/he/they, etc.) specifically refer to people that are being talked about” says the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Elden Seropian, a software engineer for Team Rainbow emphasizes that you should avoid any language around preference (such as “what pronouns do you prefer?”) because correct pronouns “aren’t really a preference, they’re a requirement.”
|Subject Pronouns||Object Pronouns||Possessive Adjective||Possessive Pronouns||Reflexive Pronouns|
Where can I list my pronouns?
- On nametags or pins
- In your Zoom Name
- In your Email Signature
- On social media in your bio
- Introductions (My name is __ and my pronouns are __”)
How do I ask someone’s pronouns?
It is surprisingly simple. “Hey, what are your pronouns?” or “What pronouns do you use?” You could also introduce your own pronouns first, and encourage the other person to share theirs. The more often we ask, the more normal the question will become. With that, we must also normalize apologizing. If you accidentally misgender someone, you should apologize, learn their correct pronouns, and move forward. Be sure to keep the correction simple, and not over-emphasize or bring more attention to it than necessary. With the permission of the individual, you may also quickly correct someone else who may misuse pronouns.
Remember: The way a person presents themselves physically does not always reveal their gender identity. One’s gender identity is the “personal sense of one’s own gender,” whether masculine, feminine, both or neither. The most obvious reason why we should be normalizing sharing pronouns is simply that it’s respectful. The best thing that we can do is ask questions! For further information, I highly recommend visiting the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s pronouns page, or other reliable LGBTQ+ resources.