Why Pronouns are Important
For a quick grammar refresher, pronouns are the articles used to describe a person or persons in the third person. Singular pronouns are gendered! For example, they are he, him, his, she, her, and hers. Gendered pronouns mean that depending on whether the person you are talking about in the third person is female or male, you use either she, hers for female and him, his for male.
Why does this matter? Well, this is very important for the trans community. A transgender individual is someone whose gender identity and biological sex do not match. A person’s biological sex is defined by the internal and external genitalia that is assigned at birth. A person’s gender identity is how they perceive their gender, regardless of their biological sex. A trans person defines their identity around their gender identity not on their biological sex. This is why referring to a trans person’s preferred gender pronoun is critical to respecting their identity.
Using a person’s preferred pronouns demonstrates respect and also provides a safe and inclusive environment. Another way of thinking about the importance of pronouns is thinking about it like it is someone’s name. If your name was Robert and people repeatedly called you John, it would be annoying and disrespectful, right? Right! Using someone’s preferred pronouns is just another way to affirm someone’s identity and show them respect.
This can sometimes be difficult because not all people look exactly like the typical presentation of female or male. It can be easy to make a mistake and use the incorrect pronouns because you assume someone’s pronouns. Just remember, getting corrected is okay. Just try to remember these pronouns in the future. And if the thought of getting corrected makes you cringe, a great way to work around that is to ask! Asking someone’s pronouns is respectful and demonstrates you care about how someone would like to be addressed. And don’t forget to mention what your preferred pronouns are! Communication is the key to respecting someone’s identity and creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ people.