We are going to dive in a little bit deeper into a topic that you may have heard about or might directly impact you, pronouns! For the most part everyone has pronouns, gender conforming or non gender conforming. Using a pronoun that represents you, can help to reduce any dysphoria and overall help you to feel more comfortable.
Why is this so important?
Using your correct pronouns is so vital for each individual person because it aligns with the authentic self! Overall, it’s about showing the individual respect and creating a more gender inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ community.
Use of gender non conforming pronouns can be found as early as the 1800’s, these pronouns such as “em”, “e”, “zie” and hir were used by multiple authors including Shakespear. Looking at common pronouns found in the English dictionary today, you will find pronouns such as he/him or she/her. Some examples of gender neutral pronouns are they/them, zie/zim and hir/hirs and some folx even prefer to not be identified with pronouns at all. Understanding more about pronouns may help you discover which one(s) feels right for you!
Not a One Size Fit All
Finding what pronoun feels best for you can be a gradual process. Pronouns can sometimes feel like they never fit perfectly, so try out different ones until they feel right for you. Don’t feel scared to experiment and to let people know. As we come across more gender inclusive environments, places such as a work or school may already be introducing themselves with their pronouns. As you may start to see this more and more, sharing yours will continue to normalize the use of all different kinds of pronouns.
There is not a guarantee that your pronoun may be 100% fit all the time. If you identify as genderfluid, you may find that there isn’t just one pronoun that fits. Many people identify with more than just one pronoun such as she/they, or may feel one day they are mas presenting and the next day are fem presenting. What’s important to remember is that gender, identity and sexuality are all on a spectrum and it’s perfectly normal to experiment.
How do you tell your loved ones?
If you are telling someone your pronouns for the first time, you may feel anxious or afraid of what the reaction might be. You may avoid telling them or correcting them, but it’s important to remember that this "word" is another representation of who you are. If someone misgenders you by mistake, although an accident, it can reinforce doubts you may have about your identity. Correcting a family member or friend is another way of advocating for your needs and also modeling to them how you want to be referred to. Sometimes you may feel like they should just understand and that you shouldn't have to teach them, or other negative thoughts about it. Eventually the people that support you will get it, and this will help you to feel more safe and respected.
When working up the courage to be vulnerable and ready to tell your loved ones, friends or even co-workers for the first time, it’s important to remember to be open and honest. Letting people know how you want to be identified is a big step in feeling comfortable in a gender inclusive environment, which is your fundamental right. If a loved one uses the wrong pronoun and you want to correct them, it is not only acceptable but helpful to do so. It might take a few times for your friend/loved one to adjust to your correct pronouns; be patient if they don’t get it the first time, it will become easier for them over time. It’s okay if you need to continue to correct people, don’t feel bad about it!
If someone misgenders you by using an incorrect pronoun on purpose, letting that person know how it impacts you is just as important. If an individual you are speaking to isn’t able to correctly identify your pronouns and aren’t willing to learn, consider whether spending time with that person is beneficial to you. Sometimes you know right away and other times it can take some processing to understand when a relationship is no longer healthy to keep. Remember, being acknowledged as who you are is your fundamental right!