Hello! My pronouns are…

Sharing your pronouns with others normalizes discussions about gender, and shows that you care.

Natalie Phu, Business Manager

Pronoun pins are one of the easiest ways to share your pronouns with others.

This year, Oct. 21 was International Pronouns Day. Specifically, referring to third-person personal pronouns, this holiday seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about person pronouns commonplace. Even though the conversation regarding pronouns is more relevant than ever, it can still be confusing to people who don’t know much about them. 

To start, not everyone uses “she/her/hers” and “he/him/his” pronouns. We subconsciously use these pronouns to infer someone’s gender, but for people who are nonbinary or transgender, these pronouns aren’t always correct. Nonbinary is the umbrella term that covers all the gender identities that fall outside the gender binary. Being nonbinary to some is identifying as being between male and female, and to others as neither. Those who are nonbinary can use ‘they/them/theirs’ or ‘ze/hir/hir’ as they are gender neutral. Forms and profiles have begun to offer an ‘other’ or they/them option in an effort to be more inclusive. As of Aug. last year, at least 14 states had offered a third gender option on driver’s licenses. 

Note that a person’s pronouns do not always directly translate to a specific gender, just as physical appearance doesn’t always translate to a specific gender. For instance, someone can identify as female but use “he/him” pronouns. Similarly, someone who uses ‘he/they’ pronouns doesn’t have to be nonbinary and can identify as male. Him using “he/they” pronouns just means that they’re comfortable with both, and would like both to be used interchangeably. Because gender is a social construct, identity is a fundamental human right that gives anyone the power to be who they are.

With all the different ways people can identify, pronouns can be difficult to navigate. But, it’s important to respect others and refer to them as who they are because misgendering someone can be hurtful and uncomfortable. Preventing these situations isn’t difficult though if you make a conscious effort to avoid them.

When meeting someone you don’t know the pronouns of, there are several ways of going about the situation. One of which would be to listen and observe what others call them. If you still don’t know, you can just ask. But if someone doesn’t want to share their pronouns with you, they don’t have to, and you should respect their decision. Pushing someone who doesn’t want to share their pronouns might lead to outing someone who isn’t ready to share their identity. Another approach would be to use ‘they/them/theirs’ pronouns on others. Likewise, you can address someone by their name. Both are gender-neutral and stop you from assuming someone’s gender.

School applications have actively combated this pronoun guessing game by implementing new opportunities. In settings, Canvas offers the ability to share your pronouns next to your name. When you answer class discussions or use Canvas’s mail system, your pronouns are attached to let others know. Both Google Meet and Zoom allow similar features that display pronouns next to your name. These features normalize the display of pronouns and help us and others to share them.

Instagram bios are another great way to make people aware of your pronouns. If you argue that there’s no point in putting them there because “you look like a girl” or “you look like a guy”, that’s not the point. Normalizing the use of pronouns is about making everyone comfortable, and unless you are at risk of being bullied or thrown out of your house, why wouldn’t you share your pronouns.

If you choose not to put your pronouns in your bio because it seems “gay”, get over yourself. Homophobia doesn’t have to look like physical abuse or someone screaming slurs. It’s as simple as the discomfort with people who are nonbinary or don’t follow society’s gender norms. 

The normalized use of pronouns is the first step at inclusivity towards people who are transgender or nonbinary. It brings awareness to a topic that not everybody is informed on and emphasizes how important it is to respect others. This change is something that everyone can implement into their email signature, bios and profiles, so let’s do it.  

And for any of you who still make ‘attack/helicopter’ jokes, at least think of something original.