The importance of small words that can make a big difference!
You may have noticed there's been a lot of discussion about gender pronouns in the media recently. With the third Wednesday of October being International Pronouns Day, we thought what better day to talk about gender pronouns and spread awareness on how these small words can make a huge difference!
Introduction to Gender Pronouns
Gender pronouns are far from new. We use them on a regular basis to both identify and refer to somebody. Describing somebody as 'he' or 'she', groups of 'they' or 'them' alongside referring to inanimate things as 'it' is something many will be very familiar with, but this is only really the beginning of an even more complex language, understanding and acceptance.
Delving Deeper Into the Meanings
As you may already be aware, there is a much larger vocabulary of gender pronouns than those mentioned earlier. Over the past few centuries, hundreds of new words, or neologisms have been proposed, with a cast majority being abandoned by all but their creators.
Although some may be abandoned and not adopted in every day use, there are still a lot more gender pronouns than you may possible know.
The pronoun 'co' used by the Twin Oaks International community, 'zie/hir' and its derivatives most commonly used within the Transgender/Genderqueer community and Spivak pronouns 'ey/em/eir' also used within the Genderqueer community, alongside some well known text-based online games and computer textbooks to name a few.
This video by Australia's Minus 18 charity outlines what gender pronouns, why they matter and how to use them:
Below we have also outlined a list of standard and non-standard third-person singular pronouns for you to refer back to and gain a greater understanding of the diverse range of gender pronouns currently in use.
Although this is a rather accurate list of active pronouns, there are many more pronouns used. See more on here.
Why are gender pronouns important?
If you've never had to worry about which pronoun others use for you, you may not fully see the importance of using the correct gender pronouns in general.
You can't always know what someone's pronouns are by looking at them. Asking and correctly using someone's pronouns is the beginning and most basic way to show your respect for their gender identity.
When somebody is referred to with the incorrect pronoun, they may feel disrespected, invalidated, dismissed, alienated or dysphoric.
Continue reading below to gain a greater understanding of gender pronouns and how to ensure that you are fully inclusive wherever possible!
How can I ask someone what their gender pronouns are?
Asking someone what their pronouns are is rather straight forward although it can feel a little awkward if you've never done it before. You'll most likely find that people appreciate your effort for asking them what their pronouns are.
The easiest way to get to know someones pronouns is to introduce yourself with you pronouns. A simple phrase such as "Hi I'm () and I use ()/() pronouns" will openly start a conversation with your pronouns prompting an other person to share theirs.
If you don't want to start with your pronouns or the person you're speaking to doesn't share them starting out, you could us the simple phrases below to gain a greater understanding:
"What is your preferred pronoun?" or Which pronouns do you prefer that people use for you?"
There are many other ways to ask someone what their pronouns are, the video below from Colors United simply outlines easy ways to go about it:
If whoever you ask doesn't know what pronouns are, you'll be able to share all the awesome information you learnt in this blog with them!
What to do if I misgender someone?
Stay calm if you catch yourself misgendering someone and take time to pause and take a breath.
If you have caught yourself misgendering someone, apologise as soon as you're calm enough to do so. Tell them you're sorry with simple phrases such as:
"I'm sorry I misgendered you, ()" or "Oh! I remember your pronouns are (), sorry about that!".
If the person you misgendered corrects you, express gratitude for their effort.
Spend time to understand what lead you to misgender someone if you knew previously their true gender pronoun. If you need to, take some extra time to learn those close to you and their pronouns to help prevent uncomfortable and upsetting events in the future.
Expanding inclusion one step at a time!
Gaining a greater understanding of gender pronouns alongside the diverse world of LGBTQ+ identities is a great way to be more inclusive with those around you, whether in your family, at work, at school or in the many other scenarios you may interact with others, even if COVID is limiting this interaction.
Joshua Lloyd is constantly producing material and information on how to be as aware and as inclusive as possible through our social media accounts, blogs, website or email.
If you love this content and would like to see more like it, please be sure to leave a comment below and let us know. We love hearing back from our community ensuring we are producing the content you like to see!
Gender pronoun apparel and accessories!
Did you know that Joshua Lloyd have a constantly growing collection of gender pronoun products alongside a fully inclusive gender neutral brand!?
Check out our latest gender neutral products here!
But for now, as always: Stay safe and speak to you again very soon!
The Joshua Lloyd Team