What’s in a name? Everything.
A few decades ago, we mostly used two main groups of pronouns to describe a person’s identity…“he/him/his” or “she/her/hers.” These days, it’s not nearly as simple.
A matter of identity
Asking the question, “What are your pronouns?” shows respect for a person’s identity. It can also be a hard question to pose. Non-binary, gender-fluid people may see themselves differently than their biological gender. They might prefer to use more gender-neutral pronouns such as “they” and “them” or vary between “him” and “her” depending upon the day.
According to mypronouns.org, “the very act of making an assumption can send a potentially harmful message–that people have to look a certain way to demonstrate the gender that they are or are not.” Refusing to use the pronouns an individual prefers, whether they are gender conforming or nonconforming; transgender (gender identity other than the sex they were born); pansexual (not limiting sexuality by gender); or non-binary (identifying as neither strictly male or female), denies their basic human rights.
International Pronouns Day
This year, October 20, 2021, is International Pronouns Day, which began in 2018 on the third Wednesday in October. It was formed to help educate people about this subject. Visit pronouns.org to learn about grassroots events and more.
Remember when women first started using “Ms.” instead of “Mrs.” or “Miss”? They didn’t want their marital status to be
such a big part of their identity. Today, many people prefer not to be tagged as one sex or another. The best way to learn is to inquire what pronouns a person prefers. Or start by identifying your own pronouns when first introduced. Get used to the concept that one’s pronouns may not indicate gender.
We all yearn to be seen as our true selves. An easy way to indicate your pronouns is in your email signature. Simply write, Pronouns: He/Him, She/Her, They/Them, etc., beneath your name. Educating each other by communicating openly further shines a light on this timely topic.