Today is International Pronouns Day and we need to talk about the use of pronouns, their normalization, and how you using proper pronouns is a form of allyship.
International Pronouns Day seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace.International Pronouns Day Website
Using people’s proper pronouns is a form of respect, which is the most basic form of human decency. The conversation shouldn’t have to go further than that, but for some people the concept of human decency is not enough. When you make assumptions on the pronouns to use for a person based on their name or gender appearance you are implying a message that people are supposed to dress or act a certain way to meet gender standards and in turn erasing the presence of transgender, intersex, gender nonconforming and nonbinary people.
Actively choosing to ignore the pronouns someone has stated that they go by could imply the oppressive notion that intersex, transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people do not or should not exist.MyPronouns.org
To make asking and using people’s pronouns common and normal you should ask everyone you come into contact with for their pronouns. It may seem intimidating at first, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. The simplest way to ask someone their pronouns is by stating yours when you introduce yourself, for example:
“Hi, my name’s Javay, I use she/her pronouns. How about you?” or “Hey, I’m Javay and I use she/her pronouns, if your comfortable, please feel free to share yours with me as well.”
The conversation only seems daunting because society has made it seem so taboo, but honestly it’s as easy as asking a stranger for a cigarette. It is important to remember the spaces you are in when asking pronouns. It should never be done publicly in a way that would be “outing” someone who may not be out in that setting or done in a room of people that you know are against or oppressive to intersex, transgender, gender nonconforming and non-binary persons. Moral of the story is read the room and protect marginalized identities in a room to keep them safe.
If you are looking for other ways to normalize pronoun use in your everyday life, add you pronouns to your email signature, add it to your social media handles, or wearing buttons or enamel pins that have your pronouns on them are all options.
It is important to know that if you do mess up and misgender someone and they correct you, recognize it and correct yourself in the future. Do not make a big deal of the situation turning into something about you. Graciously accept the correction, apologize and keep it moving. “Thank you for correcting me, my apologies” is the proper response if someone addresses you in regards to using the wrong pronouns for them or if someone else addresses you about using the wrong pronouns for another individual.
To help understanding some of the pronouns used by people the Trans Student Organization created this image. This is a non-exhaustive list, but please be aware that there are an array of different pronouns people use.
There are ample resources available to learn more about pronoun uses and their importance. Take some time to check them out here and share them with your friends, coworkers, and families. Being an ally means actively using the power you hold to make the world better for communities you support, normalizing pronoun use is a way that you can continue to be a ally.