In honor of Pride Month, it is important to celebrate this affinity month as well as individuals who are “PROUD!” With this in mind, we felt providing some context on gender neutral /gender inclusive pronouns would be a good start.
A gender neutral or gender inclusive pronoun is a pronoun which does not associate a gender with the individual who is being discussed.
Some languages, such as English, do not have a gender neutral or third gender pronoun available, and this has been criticized, since in many instances, writers, speakers, etc. use “he/his” when referring to a generic individual in the third person. Also, the dichotomy of “he and she” in English does not leave room for other gender identities, which is a source of frustration to the transgender and gender queer communities.
So if a person chooses to tell you their pronouns (in their signature line or otherwise), they are simply letting you know how you can refer to them, without you having to make any assumptions.
Brief’s history of PRIDE MONTH
Topics of Pride Month were not part of inner-city school curriculum—especially for the generation leading up to Millennials! For perspective, the celebration of Pride Month began in the 1970’s. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.
In 1995, a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the National Education Association included LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months. Further, on June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, legalized it in all fifty states, and required states to honor out-of-state same-sex marriage licenses in the case Obergefell v. Hodges.
What are Pronouns (or “Gender Pronouns” / “Preferred Gender Pronouns”)?
Pronouns are used in language all the time when we refer to ourselves or other people. The most common three pronouns are :
- he/him/his (for someone who might identify as male),
- she/her/hers (for someone who might identify as female),
- they/them/their (for someone who might not identify strictly as male or female, these pronouns are considered ‘gender neutral’; also used when referring to multiple people).
There are also lots of gender-neutral pronouns in use. Here are a few you might hear:
They/them/theirs (Shea ate their food because they were hungry.) This is a pretty common gender-neutral pronoun and it can be used in the singular. In fact, “they” was voted as the Word of the Year in 2015.
Ze/hir/hir (Tyler ate hir food because ze was hungry.) Ze is pronounced like “zee” can also be spelled zie or xe, and replaces she/he/they. Hir is pronounced like “here” and replaces her/hers/him/his/they/theirs.
Just my name please! (Ash ate Ash’s food because Ash was hungry) Some people prefer not to use pronouns at all, using their name as a pronoun instead.
Why would someone add their pronouns to their signature line?
Typically, society has taught us to make automatic assumptions about what pronouns to use for someone. If a person’s gender expression (the way they appear in terms of gender) seems to be male, we’d likely use he/him/his when talking about that person; if a person’s appearance seems to be female, we’d be likely to use she/her/hers. However, gender is not always that simple.
Sometimes a person’s gender identity (the way the person identifies internally in terms of their gender) doesn’t align with their gender expression (the way they look). In addition, not everyone identifies strictly as male or female. So when a person includes their gender pronouns on their email signature line (or on a nametag, when introducing themselves, etc.), they are simply taking the guesswork away for you! It’s their way of saying “when you refer to me using pronouns (opposed to by my name), these are the pronouns I’d like for you to use.”
Why is it important to respect people’s pronouns?
You can’t always know what someone’s pronouns are by looking at them. Asking and correctly using someone’s pronouns is one of the most basic ways to show your respect for their gender identity. So, lets continue to put some RESPECT on it!
If we forgot to mention a pronoun in this write up, please comment below and educate us.