(Written for International Pronouns Day)
Today is International Pronouns Day.
I use all pronouns. He/She/They. I don’t particularly like the term preferred pronouns, any more than I like the term preferred name. Often suggesting something is preffered is to suggest that it is not the case, it feels like a person’s pornouns are being negated somewhat by saying they are prefrred. Of course, when it’s a choice between the correct pronouns and being misgenders, of course the correct pronouns are preferred but when it comes down to it, they are just a person’s pronouns. They are no more or less preferred than anything else about that person.
However, in my case, it makes sense to say; I have no preferred pronouns.
I’m really not bothered what people use. I do use they/them more often in written form, and when I write bios for things I will refer to myself as they/them. The rest of the time I don’t mind. I think it’s either down to the fluidity of my gender or the fact that I’ve had people refer to me by different pronouns on and off most of my life.
I am just one person though.
Why Pronouns Matter
Rightly or wrongly, pronouns usually indicate gender. We use he for men, she for women and it’s not always accurate. Assuming someone’s pronouns based on their gender presentation is harmful, both to cis and trans people.
Using the incorrect pronouns is often misgendering a person. Misgendering is harmful, there are no two ways about it. If you’re a cis person, you don’t want to be incorrectly gendered any more than I do.
And trust me, misgendering hurts.
Not everyone has pronouns (you would then refer to them by their name in place of he/she/they pronouns) and that’s just as valid as someone using the pronouns they were born with.
I would’ve loved to used they/them pronouns for Snappy from when he was born until he knows what he is but sometimes you’ve got to pick your battles and I’m already raising a gender non conforming child in a rural area. I know my limits.
Being An Ally
There are some pretty simple ways you can be an ally as a cis person.
Change your bios to include your pronouns. I do this on all of mine, even though I use them all. It’s a simple thing to do to and doesn’t take long. Add them to your email signatures too, business cards, whatever your name might be listed.
Ask for people’s pronouns. Don’t force them to share their pronouns but you can ask, and you can encourage people to share their own, and feel safe about sharing their own, by sharing your own first. Introduce yourself, mention what pronouns you go by, ask if they want to share theirs or how they would like to be referred too.
Written by Ren Skalka for Queer Little Family.