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What are pronouns

and why are they important?

Gender pronouns are often used when describing or talking about a person. Pronouns are important because they allow people to be addressed and referred to in a way that aligns with their gender identity. Using someone’s correct gender pronouns can validate their sense of self.


‘He’ and ‘she’ are gender-specific pronouns commonly used to refer to individuals based on their binary gender. ‘He/Him/His’ are the masculine pronouns typically used to refer to someone who identifies as male, and ‘She/Her/Hers’ are the feminine pronouns typically used to refer to someone who identifies as female.


For example

Michael uses he/him pronouns. When others use "he" to refer to him, it validates his gender identity as a man.

Sarah uses she/her pronouns. When others use "she" to refer to her, it validates her gender identity as a woman.


Not everyone identifies within the traditional binary genders of male and female. Some individuals may identify as non-binary, genderqueer, or another gender identity that falls outside the binary spectrum. In such cases, it is crucial to use the pronouns that align with their gender identity. ‘They/Them/Theirs’ is the most commonly used set of gender-neutral pronouns, but there are others in use such as ‘Ze/hir/hirs’, ‘Xe/Xem/Xyr’ and ‘Ze/Zir/Zirs’.


For example

Sam identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. When others use "they" to refer to them, it affirms their identity and fosters an inclusive environment.


It’s important to note that some individuals may use a mix of pronouns, they may experience gender identity as fluid or flexible, or identify as demi-gender, multiple genders, or cis-genderless. If you are unsure about which pronoun to use for someone who prefers a mix of pronouns, it's okay to politely ask for clarification. Open and respectful communication can help ensure that you are addressing individuals correctly and making them feel seen and respected.


Assuming someone's gender based on appearance or making assumptions about their pronouns can lead to misgendering, which can be both hurtful and invalidating. Using gender neutral language or asking for a person’s pronouns can help avoid making incorrect assumptions.


For example

Jordan presents themselves in what some may consider a masculine manner, but they are a woman. Referring to Jordan as "he" based on her appearance would be a misgendering, and a disregard of her gender identity.

Sky presents themselves in what some may consider a feminine manner, but they are non-binary. Referring to Sky as "she" based on their appearance would also be a misgendering, and a disregard of their gender identity.


Gender pronouns play a crucial role in creating inclusive environments. By normalising the practice of sharing and using pronouns, everyone feels seen and accepted. When more individuals openly share their pronouns, it becomes a regular part of introductions and conversations, reducing the burden on transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals to be the sole initiators of pronoun disclosure. Sharing pronouns facilitates better communication and fosters respectful interactions. By using the correct pronouns, individuals can establish a sense of trust, understanding, and empathy. It allows for more authentic connections and reduces the potential for discomfort or harm caused by misgendering.


For example

When John introduces himself and includes his pronouns, it signals to others that he is supportive of gender diversity and encourages others to share their pronouns with him.


Using the correct pronouns demonstrates respect, and inclusivity. Remember, each person's experience and use of pronouns may be unique to them, and may change over time. Being mindful of pronouns and normalising their usage promotes inclusivity, respect, and validation of identities across the gender spectrum.

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